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Speaking of this novel, Conrad wrote, "The origin of THE SECRET AGENT: subject, treatment, artistic purpose, and every other motive that may induce an author to take up his pen, can, I believe, be traced to a period of mental and emotional reaction. "The actual facts are that I began this book impulsively and wrote it continuously. When in due course it was bound and delivered to the public gaze I found myself reproved for having produced it at all. Some of the admonitions were severe, others had a sorrowful note. I have not got them textually before me but I remember perfectly the general argument, which was very simple; and also my surprise at its nature. All this sounds a very old story now! And yet it is not such a long time ago..."
Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924) was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. He joined the British merchant marine in 1878, and was granted British citizenship in 1886. Though he did not speak English fluently until his twenties, he was a master prose stylist who brought a non-English sensibility into English literature. He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an impassive, inscrutable universe. Conrad is considered an early modernist, though his works still contain elements of 19th-century realism. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced numerous authors and many films have been adapted from, or inspired by, his works. Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew on his native Poland's national experiences and his own experiences in the French and British merchant navies, to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world-including imperialism and colonialism-and that profoundly explore the human psyche.