On the day after the 9/11 anniversary observances, here's Episode Twelve of our nightly audio adventure, The Secret Agent - written by Joseph Conrad in 1907 but one of the most quoted books on the planet in the fall of 2001.
I mentioned that this was one of the first, if not the first (I know of none earlier), novels to fracture chronology and tell its story out of order. The author jumped ahead to the day of the bombing in Greenwich Park, Chief Inspector Heat's examination of the remains of the self-detonated terrorist, and the Assistant Commissioner's visit to the Home Secretary to seek political approval for what he wished to do. Then, yesterday, Conrad went back to before the bombing, and to the changed domestic arrangements of the Verloc family. In consequence, Winnie sends her simple brother Stevie to spend time in the country with the celebrity terrorist Michaelis. In tonight's episode, the flashback smoothly moves forward and returns to the evening of the bombing:
Mrs Verloc found herself oftener than usual all alone not only in the shop, but in the house. For Mr Verloc had to take his walks. She was alone longer than usual on the day of the attempted bomb outrage in Greenwich Park, because Mr Verloc went out very early that morning and did not come back till nearly dusk. She did not mind being alone. She had no desire to go out. The weather was too bad, and the shop was cosier than the streets. Sitting behind the counter with some sewing, she did not raise her eyes from her work when Mr Verloc entered in the aggressive clatter of the bell.
So, if Mr Verloc has returned to the shop and in apparent good health, who then was blown apart at Greenwich Park? If you're a member of The Mark Steyn Club you can hear Part Twelve of our serialization of The Secret Agent simply by clicking here and logging-in. All previous episodes can be found here.
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