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By the time Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) produced this novel in 1907, terrorism had torn its way through London: Victoria station had been partially destroyed, the House of Commons damaged, and Scotland Yard attacked with dynamite. Conrad's story is set in 1886, at the height of these troubles, and was inspired by the 1894 attempt to bomb Greenwich Observatory. Written just after Nostromo (1904), it is a marked departure from Conrad's usual seafaring form and plunges the reader into the claustrophobic, grimy world of late nineteenth-century London. Mr Adolf Verloc - anarchist, spy, and purveyor of pornographic material - heads a cast of shadowy characters all affected directly or indirectly by the anarchist organisation to which he belongs. Although critics acknowledged its power, the novel and its dark subject matter were uneasily received in Conrad's lifetime. This reissue of the first edition confirms the book's place as a classic of twentieth-century fiction.