Richard Paul Evans — Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, Rise of the Elgen, Battle of the Ampere, Hunt for the Jade Dragon, Storm of Lightning — Videos
Meet Michael Vey
Glenn Beck gives the history behind “Michael Vey” w/ Richard Paul Evans, & FULL TRAILER
Richard Paul Evans on MICHAEL VEY: The Prisoner of Cell 25
Michael Vey: The prisoner of Cell 25 in the classroom
Michael Vey 2 Inteview with Glenn Beck and Richard Paul Evans Rise of the Elgen GBTV book
Michael Vey 3: Battle of Ampere
Michael Vey 3 Battle of the Ampere by Richard Paul Evans talks to Glenn Beck
Michael Vey 4: Hunt for Jade Dragon (Official Trailer)
Michael Vey 5: Storm of Lightning | Sneak Peak
Richard Paul Evans – SUECON 2013 – The Four Doors
(1 of 3) Richard Paul Evans on Dialogue
(2 of 3) Richard Paul Evans on Dialogue
(3 of 3) Richard Paul Evans on Dialogue
THE WALK by Richard Paul Evans
Richard Paul Evan wants YOU to be a bestselling Author
Richard Paul Evans
||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
|Richard P. Evans|
|Born||October 11, 1962
Salt Lake City, Utah
|Education||Cottonwood High School (Murray, Utah)|
|Alma mater||University of Utah|
|Notable works||The Michael Vey Series and The Christmas box|
Evans graduated from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. He graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Utah in 1984. While working as an advertising executive he wrote a Christmas story for his children. Unable to find a publisher or an agent, he self-published the work in 1993 as a paperback novella entitled The Christmas Box. He distributed it to book stores in his community.
The book became a local bestseller, prompting Evans to publish the book nationally. The next year The Christmas Box hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, inciting an auction for the publishing rights among the world’s top publishing houses. Evans signed a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster, who paid Evans $4.2 million in an advance. Released in hardcover in 1995, The Christmas Box became the first book to simultaneously reach the number-one position on the New York Times bestseller list for both paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title, starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O’Hara.
Evans has subsequently written 31 nationally best-selling books, including those for children, with conservative Christian themes and appealing to family values. His 1996 book Timepiece was made into a television movie featuring James Earl Jones and Ellen Burstyn, as were 1998’s The Locket, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, and 2003’s A Perfect Day, which starred Rob Lowe and Christopher Lloyd.
During the Spring of 1997, Evans founded The Christmas Box House International, an organization devoted to building shelters and providing services for abused and neglected children. To date, more than 35,000 children have been served by Christmas Box House facilities. The Christmas Box International].
- The Christmas Box Miracle: My Spiritual Journey of Destiny, Healing, and Hope (2001)
- The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me: About Life and Wealth (2004)
- The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me for Women (2009)
- The Christmas Box
- The Christmas Box (1994)
- Timepiece (1996)
- The Letter (1996)
- The Locket
- The Locket (1998)
- The Looking Glass (1999)
- The Carousel (2001)
- The Walk
- The Walk (2009)
- Miles to Go (2011)
- The Road To Grace (2012)
- A Step of Faith (2013)
- Walking on Water (2014)
- Michael Vey
5. Micheal vey: storm of lightning
- Christmas Every Day, adapted from the William Dean Howells short story (1996)
- The First Gift of Christmas (1996)
- The Last Promise (2002)
- A Perfect Day (2003)
- The Sunflower (2005)
- Finding Noel (2006)
- The Gift (2007)
- Grace (2008)
- The Christmas List (2009)
- Promise Me (2010)
- Lost December (2011)
- A Winter Dream (2012)
- The Four Doors (2013)
- The Mistletoe Promise (2014)
- The Dance (1999)
- The Spyglass: A Book About Faith (2000)
- The Tower (2001)
- The Christmas Candle (2002)
- The Light of Christmas (2003)
- Woo, Elaine (October 13, 2011). “Margaret Tante Burk obituary: The co-founder of the Round Table West literary group was 93”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- “KUTV 2News “Person 2 Person: Richard Paul Evans””. KUTV 2News Utah. June 14, 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- Richard Paul Evans – author profile on Simon&Schuster http://authors.simonandschuster.ca/Richard-Paul-Evans/706373
- “KUTV 2News “Person 2 Person: Richard Paul Evans””. KUTV 2News Utah. June 14, 2013. Retrieved 2 July 2013.
- Hunt for Jade Dragon (Official website) http://michaelvey.com
- The Christmas Box House International charity website
- Richard Paul Evans official web site
- Winning in the Margins Site
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25
|Author||Richard Paul Evans|
|Original title||Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25|
|Genre||Science Fiction, Young Adult|
|Published||Simon Pulse, Mercury Ink|
|Followed by||Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen|
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 is a 2011 young-adult/science fictionnovel by Richard Paul Evans, and published by Glenn Beck‘s owned Mercury Ink. The story follows Michael Vey, a teenager who is diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and has electrical powers.
The story follows Michael Vey, a teenager diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome who has the ability to pulse or surge electricity out of the palms of his hands. One day, Michael gets beat up by bullies as he is leaving school, and a popular cheerleader named Taylor witnesses it. In self-defense, Michael shocks the three bullies and they fall to the ground. The next day at school, Taylor confronts him about the occasion. After he explains, she tells him that she can read minds when she touches someone. They later on discover that they were born in the same hospital near the same date, and a machine, called an MEI, made by a company named Elgen was used during their births. Taylor soon meets Michael’s friend Ostin, a smart but ordinary person who is aware of Michael’s powers, and the three of them form their own group, the Electroclan.
Shortly after, both Michael and Taylor receive scholarships from the prestigious Elgen Academy. When Michael tells his mother about the scholarship, she immediately makes him leave the restaurant where they are eating. On their way to the car, a man attempts to rob them. When Michael shocks him, another man appears accompanied by two teenagers. The man reveals himself to be Dr. Hatch. Michael then passes out after being hit by an unknown electrical pulse from Nichelle, one of the teenagers. When Michael wakes up, he is in a hospital and Ostin’s mother tells him that his mom has been kidnapped. Meanwhile, Taylor has been taken captive to Elgen Academy, where she finds out that she has an identical (but evil) twin, named Tara.
Taylor soon discovers the dark side of Dr. Hatch; he likes to use the teenagers’ powers for his own benefit and pleasure. When given an order by Dr. Hatch, Taylor disobeys him, is tortured by Nichelle, and gets put on Floor D with three other kids: Ian, McKenna, and Abigail who disobeyed Hatch’s orders and suffered the same fate as Taylor. After getting a car ride to Pasadena, Michael unsuccessfully attempts to free Taylor. Dr. Hatch tells Michael after his capture that Michael killed his own father, and makes him choose between his own freedom and his friends. Taylor, Ostin, and the other rebels on Floor D escape their cell only to be caught again. Michael is told to kill Wade to prove his allegiance to Dr. Hatch. He refuses and so his mother is shocked instead. Michael is sent to Cell 25, the torture cell for those who don’t agree with Dr. Hatch’s methods.
After 26 days, Michael is released from Cell 25 and is taken to the same room where he failed his first test by not shocking Wade. Hatch leaves Michael (who is very ill from his treatment in Cell 25) alongside Ostin, and Taylor, who are restrained in chairs. Ostin and Taylor are supposed to be killed by Zeus, but after Michael tricks Zeus into shocking him, he grows more powerful from Zeus’s lightning and pulses, causing an electric wave, knocking both Zeus and Ostin unconscious. He checks on Taylor who is okay, and then Ostin, but finds that his heart has stopped. After applying two shocks in a fashion similar to a defibrillator Ostin’s heart starts up again. Taylor then goes into the mind of Zeus and searches his memories, to find that Hatch tricked him into believing that he killed his family while swimming in a pool at the age of 7. He then sides with Michael and the rest of the Electroclan and helps them break Ian, McKenna, and Abigail out of their cell, and using his powers, disables all the cameras they come across. A lengthy battle between the Electroclan and Dr. Hatch’s loyalists occurs. Michael’s group takes control of the control room and releases the human captives (including Jack and Wade) who overpower the remaining guards. Meanwhile, Dr. Hatch escapes from Elgen Academy in a helicopter with most of the other electric children that are loyal to him.
After the battle, Taylor goes to call her parents, and after dialing three digits walks up to and kisses Michael. Then another electric child, Grace, who supposedly ran away from Hatch, arrives to join the “Electoclan”. With the suspicion that she may be a plant, Taylor reads her mind and confirms that she is against Hatch. Grace also says that she downloaded all the Elgen’s computer files onto herself before they were deleted: her power is being able to upload and download data from computers, like a human flash drive. Nichelle is sent to be a normal human where she can’t hurt anyone after Michael finds out her weakness. The book ends with Ostin proclaiming that “This is the rise of the Electroclan!”
Dr. C. J. Hatch is the main antagonist of the book. He recruits (or kidnaps), the Glows, to the Elgen Academy and gives them what ever they want (no matter the cost) at first; later, however, he guilt tricks them into using their gifts for his own personal pleasure (using manipulation). He is an evil genius and attempts to capture and kill Michael and his friends several times throughout the book. The poster boy of 21st century fascism.
Jack is one of the bullies that attacks Michael daily. He is also friends with Wade and Mitchell. Jack drives Michael to Pasadena, along with Wade and Ostin, and the four of them eventually bond. Jack has been held back several years and is around age 17.
Wade is one of the bullies that attack Michael daily. He is also friends with Jack and Mitchell, and helps Jack drive Michael to Pasadena. Wade develops a deep gratitude for Michael, after Michael refuses Dr. Hatch’s request to electrocute him.
Michael Vey is fourteen during the book. Michael is the main protagonist of the series. Michael has been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, which results in him involuntarily blinking and/or gulping when he is stressed or nervous. Due to his small stature Michael has endured many years of being bullied and unable to retaliate from fear of his powers being exposed. Michael’s powers consist of him being able to shock people by contact or if they are connected with something that can be conducted. He can also cause electrical surges that can destroy electrical equipment and stun people. Michael not only is immune to electrical attacks or discharges, he is also able to absorb them which makes him more powerful. According to Hatch, Michael could be the most powerful Glow alive and has hinted that Michael may have killed his own father by accident. His best friend, Ostin, and girlfriend, Taylor, formed the Electroclan and as a group learned that there were fifteen other teenagers like himself and Taylor.
Taylor Ridley is a fifteen-year-old high school cheerleader who is the most beautiful girl in school, smart, popular, and everybody loves her. She was adopted when she was young and did not know that she had a twin sister named Tara. Her abilities are mainly attributed to electrical signals in the brain. These abilities include being able to “reboot” a person’s brain, making them forget what they were doing at that moment. She is also able to read people’s minds, with this ability being stronger if she is touching a person.
Ostin Liss is Michael’s best friend and is considered a genius by everyone. It is said he has a GPA of 4.00 but only because it doesn’t go any higher. His mother named him after the city in Texas but spelled Austin wrong, which Michael finds ironic because Ostin is a genius, but his mom can’t even spell the city they lived in.
Nichelle is a girl who helped kidnap Taylor. Her power is being able to electrically depress the nerve endings to cause pain and pressure comparable to the worst migraines. Nichelle can literally “suck the power” from a Glow the same way mosquitoes suck blood from a host. She is disliked by the other kids at the Elgen Academy and is also gothic in style. Nichelle is looked at as a freak because of this, and the fact that she enjoys torturing others with her dark power. She can only inflict pain upon others when she is in close distance. She could not affect Michael when he was absorbing electricity from a power source as it was too much electricity to handle at one time. This is similar to the way mosquitoes cannot handle excessive blood while drawing it out. In the end, Nichelle is banished to go live in the “real world.” She admits that she would rather die than live there as she is considered a loser. She is recruited by Michael in the fourth book to help fend off Hatch’s Glows. Nichelle slowly begins to grow loyal to the Electroclan and goes so far as to trick Hatch and break everyone out of custody.
Zeus His real name is Frank but he is named Zeus due to his ability to shoot bolts of electricity that are similar in appearance to lightning. He became part of Hatch’s group when Hatch fabricated his memories, saying Zeus killed his whole family by jumping into a pool they were in, thus shocking them to death. Due to his inability to touch water, he never bathes, thus making him sensitive and violent about people commenting about his stench. He joins the Electroclan after the truth about his family is revealed. Zeus also can not touch water because the water makes him shock himself. He starts to fall for Abigail.
Ian is an African American fourteen-year-old who is first introduced in Purgatory when Taylor is sent there. Although he is blind, it is not a weakness, as his ability is what is called electrolocation where he can track anything with an electric current, meaning animals, electric appliances, etc. This is most helpful as he is able to track Glows as well as see through anything.
McKenna is a Chinese-American girl. She has the ability to create light and heat on any part of her body. She can heat herself to more than 3,000 Kelvin. She is also Ostin’s crush. She is very smart.
Abigail is a platinum blonde haired girl who is first introduced in Purgatory. She is also known as Abi. Her ability allows her to relieve pain by contact by stimulating nerve endings. She is very nice and optimistic.
Grace acts as a “human flash drive,” and is able to transfer and store large amounts of electronic data. She quit Dr. Hatch’s group of electric children to join the Electroclan. She is shy to all the kids.
Tanner is a very regretful person, he has the ability to interfere with a plane’s navigation system making it crash. He is forced to murder many people by Dr. Hatch.
Tara is Taylor’s identical (but evil) twin sister that is completely and unmoveably loyal to Dr. Hatch. Like her sister, Taylor, her abilities also deal with the mind, although that is the extent of their similarities. Tara can stimulate different parts of the brain to cause pain or pleasure and everything in between. She is able to make the person she is using her powers on see and feel what she wants them to, as seen when she causes Michael to believe there were black widows crawling on him and a shark was going to attack him. A Fascist.
Quentin, also known as Q., has the ability to produce a small EMP or electromagnetic pulse. He is a bit of a flirt and both Tara and Kylee have a crush on him. A Fascist.
Bryan has the ability to create highly focused electricity that allows him to cut through solid objects such as metal by burning through them. A Fascist.
Kylee was born with the ability to create electromagnetic power, she is basically a human magnet.
Mercury Ink released the sequels: Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen on August 14, 2012, Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere on September 17, 2013, Michael Vey: Hunt for the Jade Dragon on September 16, 2014, and now Michael Vey: Storm of Lightning on September 15, 2015!
On September 15th, 2015 on Glenn Beck’s radio program, Richard Paul Evans announced that he reached a deal with a British producer to make a TV pilot.
- Number one book on the New York Times Chapter Book list for the week ending August 28, 2011.
- Number one selling book in Barnes and Nobles, number 2 in Amazon.com for Michael Vey.
- On August 25, it was ranked number 38 on USA Today’s best sellers.
- Michael Vey reached number Seven on the chart for USA Today in August.
- The Salt Lake Tribune announced that Michael Vey made number seven on the Deseret Book for the week of Aug. 22 through Aug. 27 chart.
Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen
|Author||Richard Paul Evans|
|Original title||Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen|
|Genre||Science Fiction, Young Adult|
|Published||Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink|
|Preceded by||Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25|
|Followed by||Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere|
Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen is the second book by Richard Paul Evans in the Michael Vey series. It carries on where the first book (Michael Vey: Prisoner of Cell 25) left off in search for Michael’s mother.
Michael was born with special electrical powers—and he’s not the only one. His friend Taylor has them too, and so do fifteen other kids their age. With Michael’s friend Ostin, a tecno-genius, they form the Electroclan, an alliance meant to protect them from a powerful group, the growing Order of Elgen, who are out to destroy them. The leader of the Elgen, Dr. Hatch, has kidnapped Michael’s mother, and time is running out.
The Electroclan heads back to Idaho after forcing Hatch to flee the Elgen center in California. After narrowly escaping an Elgen trap, Ostin’s discovery of bizarre “rat fires” in South America and the Elgen computer files Grace downloaded leads the gang to the jungles of Peru, where the Electroclan finds the Elgen base, which they enter in Elgen uniforms. While there, they discover that Elgen has created electric rats who power the entire building. They also rescue Michael’s mom, and another ‘Glow’ named Tanner, whose power allows him to make aircraft malfunction and fall from the sky, and who suffers with guilt for what he did at Hatch’s command, and is locked up for trying to take down the plane Hatch and the l Michael is captured and after Hatch unsuccessfully attempts to convert him, Hatch sends the loyal Electro Children into Michael’s cell to try to convince him to join them. Michael taunts Torstyn, the most powerful of them, who can create a microwave effect in his victim’s brain, and who refuses to fight him after he is told by the other children that he defeated Nichelle. Michael then reveals that the reason Dr. Hatch has so many guards is because he is afraid of them. Hatch orders the children out, and after a brief time, Michael is put in the rat’s container, as food, but he absorbs the electricity they are putting out, making so much heat and energy that it kills the rats. He then escapes with Taylor’s help, who, by touching metal on the outside of the building, communicates with him, and flees into the jungle to meet up with the gang and his mother. He loses his way, and is nearly killed by Elgen helicopters, but Tanner, who is nearby with the rest of the Electroclan, takes the aircraft down, allowing Michael to continue on his way, ignorant of where he is. He then stumbles across some natives who tell him in the last line of the book, that he cannot go home.
The sequel to this book, Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere, was published September 17, 2013.
Michael Vey, Taylor Ridley (his girlfriend), Ostin Liss, Sharon Vey. Jack Vranes, Wade West, Leonard Franklin Smith (Zeus), Ian, McKenna, Abigail, Grace, Tanner, The Voice, Dr. C.J. Hatch, Tara, Quentin, Torstyn, Bryan,and Kylee. Jamie
- “The Books”. Strillogy. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere
The cover of the first edition.
|Author||Richard Paul Evans|
|Original title||Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere|
|Genre||Science Fiction, Young Adult|
|Published||Simon Pulse, Mercury Ink|
|Preceded by||Michael Vey: Rise of the Elgen|
|Followed by||Michael Vey: Hunt for the Jade Dragon|
Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere is the third book of the seven book Michael Vey series, written by Richard Paul Evans. It was published September 17, 2013 by Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink. The first book in the series,Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Following where the previous book left off, Michael is held by tribe of natives. During this time, he meets a new Glow: Tessa, known before as Tesla, who escaped from Hatch and can increase the powers of other electric children. Michael is soon told he and Tessa are going to meet Jaime, the man who helped the Electroclan in the previous book. As they depart, Tessa has a tearful goodbye with one of the tribal women whom she calls her mother. Jaime takes them to his base camp where they are ambushed by Elgen guards. Michael is forced to kill the guards with the camp’s security system to evade capture. Jaime, Tessa, and Michael destroy the camp and hike away to prevent the Elgen from learning anything.
Meanwhile, Taylor and the rest of the Electroclan have been captured by the Peruvian authorities for destroying the Elgen’s power plant. While being interrogated, Taylor inadvertently tells the Elgen about the voice that has been helping them. Ostin leads an escape attempt, but the group is captured by Elgen agents and then re-captured by the Peruvians.
After extensive hiking, Michael, Tessa, and Jaime set a trap to disrupt the convoy carrying the rest of the Electroclan. Michael manages to stop the convoy and frees everyone but Taylor and Jack who were taken by an Elgen bounty hunter. The Clan rescues them, but Wade is killed in the process. After an improvised memorial service, the Electroclan goes to a hotel to meet Jaime.
Jaime takes them to a safe house where they are told that the Hatch plans to use the Elgen fleet to take over a small island country and from there build an arsenal of EMPs to take over the world. The Electroclan is to destroy the fleet’s flagship: the Ampere. However, Ian, Zeus, Abigail, and Tessa, who are tired of running, decide to leave. Michael, Taylor, Ostin, McKenna, and Jack attack the Ampere but are cornered in the ship’s engine room. As they prepare to detonate the bomb manually, the Elgen attack ship, the Watt explodes and Tessa, Zeus, Abigail, and Ian return. The Ampere is then blown up while everyone escapes.
During a celebration for the mission’s success, Taylor and Michael award Wade the “Electroclan Medal of Honor” to commemorate his sacrifice and to ease a grieving Jack. Jaime allows Michael and Ostin to talk to their parents. The joy is cut short when it is revealed that Hatch escaped the ship before it blew and has kidnapped a child prodigy in China who has figured out how to create more electric children. The book ends with the Electroclan preparing to rescue the child.
- Michael Vey: The main protagonist of the series. Has Tourette’s syndrome, and electrical shocking powers. A 15-year-old Jack Bauer with superpowers. Leader of the electroclan.
- Taylor Ridley: high school cheerleader and girlfriend of Vey,Scramble brain signals known in the book as “rebooting”. Member of the electroclan.
- Ostin: best friend of Micheal Vey, no electric powers, super smart.
- Dr. C. J. Hatch: The main antagonist of the book. Director of the Elgen Academy.
- Ian: Member of the electroclan. He can see through walls by electrolocation.
- Abigail: Member of the electroclan. Stimulate nerve endings to take away pain.
- McKenna: Member of the electroclan. Creates heat and light
- Jack: Member of the electroclan. Martial arts. Drives
- Wade: Member of the electroclan. Martial arts. Drives
- Zeus: Member of the electroclan. Shoots Lightning
- Tessa: Member of the electroclan. Enhance electricity
- Tanner: Create mechanical problems, usually brings down planes.
- Grace: Human flash drive
- Tara: Is loyal to Hatch. Can affect emotions. Is Taylor’s evil twin.
- Quentin: Is loyal to Hatch. Can create an electromagnetic pulse.
- Torstyn: Is loyal to Hatch. Produces microwaves. Sadistic and nasty.
- Bryan: Is loyal to Hatch. Can cut through items with a concentrated beam.
- Kylee: Is loyal to Hatch. Magnetic powers which allows her to walk on metal walls.
- Jaime: A jungle guide who works for the voice.
- Haddock (21 September 2013). “Richard Paul Evans keeps the voltage up in ‘Michael Vey 3: Battle of the Ampere'”. Deseret News. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Kramer, Pamela (10 November 2013). “‘Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere’ by Richard Paul Evans: It’s not over yet”. The Standard Examiner. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- Ritz, Erica (16 September 2013). “A Young Adult Book Launch Said to Have Drawn Thousands…And It Wasn’t Harry Potter”. The Blaze. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
- “Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere”. USA Today. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
Michael Vey: Hunt for the Jade Dragon
|Author||Richard Paul Evans|
|Original title||Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon|
|Published||Simon Pulse, Mercury Ink|
|Media type||Paperback, Hardcover|
|Preceded by||Michael Vey: Battle of the Ampere|
Michael Vey: Hunt for Jade Dragon is the fourth book of the seven book Michael Vey series, written by Richard Paul Evans. The first book in the series, Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25, was #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Michael and the Electroclan travel to Timepiece Ranch (a base owned by the Voice). There Michael, Ostin, and Taylor meet their respective parents (with the exception of Taylor’s father) along with fellow Glows Grace and Tanner. The Clan is briefed about their mission to rescue Jade Dragon, a Chinese child prodigy who has figured out how to make more electric children. The resistance tell Michael that he should recruit Nichelle to combat Hatch’s electric children. Michael is at reluctant to seek Nichelle’s help as he cannot trust her, but he ultimately decides to make her an offer.
Michael and the Clan fly back to Pasadena to approach Nichelle. Though at first hesitant, (Michael tempted her with money) Nichelle agrees to help them in order to get her revenge on Hatch for leaving her to die. The Electroclan journey to Taiwan where they are boarded in a hotel until they can rescue Jade. After a brief reconnaissance of the seemingly impenetrable Starxource plant where Jade Dragon is held, they decide to intercept her while the Elgen move onto the research boat, The Volta.
The Electroclan are ordered to stay in their hotel by their handler while Zeus and Tessa are moved to another Starxource plant in order to confuse the Elgen. However, the Clan grows stir-crazy and leave to explore the local market. When they return, both Nichelle and Taylor act strangely. That night, Nichelle goes to see Hatch and seemingly sells out the rest of the Clan.
The Elgen attack and capture the Electroclan at their hotel. It is then revealed that the ‘Taylor’ who returned with them from the market was actually Tara. Michael is tortured by an Elgen assassin until someone who appears to be Michael’s father stops him. After a brief exchange, Michael’s ‘father’ states the “Elgen are the good guys.”
Nichelle visits Michael in his cell, who quickly attacks her. Nichelle reveals that she knew Tara had switched places with Taylor all along, but didn’t say anything because she knew that Hatch would just kill Taylor. Together, Michael and Nichelle free the rest of the Electroclan and escape the compound.
After meeting back up with Zeus and Tessa, the Clan regroups back at a safe house. Ian reveals to Michael that the man he thought was his father was actually Hatch disguised by Tara’s new power. The two then tell their handler that Hatch might know where Timepiece Ranch is with information Michael had given him.
The Clan soon successfully rescues Jade Dragon. On their way back to the safe house, Michael and Taylor learn that Jade’s parents were killed by the Elgen when she was kidnapped. Realizing that he can’t bear the danger of losing those he love anymore, Michael tells Taylor that he intends to leave when they return home. The Clan is shocked to learn that the Elgen have attacked the Ranch and that there are no reported survivors. Michael demands to go to the Ranch despite the danger.
- Michael Vey: The main protagonist of the series. He is 15 and has Tourette’s syndrome. Power: He can produce high voltages of electricity, as well as absorb it. Michael has also gained magnetic abilities and can also create balls of electricity
- Taylor Ridley: high school cheerleader and girlfriend of Vey. Power: Scramble brain signals, and telepathy through physical contact
- Ostin Liss: Unpopular in school, but Michael’s best friend. Power: None, other than his high IQ
- Dr. C. J. Hatch: The main antagonist of the series. Director of the Elgen Academy. Power: An army of Elgen soldiers, he also commands 5 of the Electric Children.
- Lung Li: They wear all black and are an elite ninja Elgen force.
- Ian: Power: Can see everything within a certain area by electrolocation.
- Jade Dragon: She came up with the algorithm to fix the MEI.
- Abigail: Power: She can stimulate nerve endings which is used to nullify pain.
- McKenna: Power: She can produce immense heat and light.
- Jack: Power: None, except for his strength and fighting skill.
- Zeus: Power: Can project electricity from his body, and outwards like lightning.
- Tessa: Power: Enhance the powers of other electric children.
- Tanner: Power: He can tamper with the electrical signals of machinery.
- Grace: Power: She can absorb information from electronics.
- Tara: Twin of Taylor. Power: She can scramble brain signals, induce emotions in others such as fear and joy, and create hallucinations.
- Quentin: The president of the Elgen Academy. Power: can create an EMP.
- Torstyn: The only one that does not have to obey Quentin. Power: He can produce microwaves.
- Bryan: Power: Can focus electricity into a laser in order to cut through materials.
- Kylee: Power: Magnetic.
- Ben: He works for “the Voice“.
- Mrs. Vey: She is at the Ranch and is Michael Vey’s mother.
- Mrs. Ridley She went to the Ranch, and was told she was going on a business trip instead.
- Mrs. Liss: Ostin’s Mother. She is at the ranch.
- Mr. Liss: Ostin’s Father. He is at the ranch.
- Nichelle: Power: Drains electricity of other Glows. Her weakness is when Michael pulses and overloads Nichelle’s drain.
- Kramer, Pamela. “‘Michael Vey: Hunt for the Jade Dragon’ by Richard Paul Evans.”.
The Secret Agent (David Suchet, Patrick Malahide, Peter Capaldi, 1992)
The Secret Agent
First US edition cover
|Publisher||Methuen & Co|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale is a novel by Joseph Conrad, published in 1907. The story is set in London in 1886 and deals with Mr. Verloc and his work as a spy for an unnamed country (presumably Russia).The Secret Agent is notable for being one of Conrad’s later political novels. In these later novels, Conrad has moved away from his former tales of seafaring.
The novel deals broadly with anarchism, espionage, and terrorism. It also deals with exploitation of the vulnerable, particularly in Verloc’s relationship with his brother-in-law Stevie, who has an intellectual disability.
The novel is set in London in 1886 and follows the life of Mr. Verloc, a secret agent. Verloc is also a businessman who owns a shop which sells pornographic material, contraceptives, and bric-a-brac. He lives with his wife Winnie, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Stevie. Stevie has a mental disability, possibly autism, which causes him to be very excitable; his sister, Verloc’s wife, attends to him, treating him more as a son than as a brother. Verloc’s friends are a group of anarchists of which Comrade Ossipon, Michaelis, and “The Professor” are the most prominent. Although largely ineffectual as terrorists, their actions are known to the police. The group produce anarchist literature in the form of pamphlets entitled F.P., an acronym for The Future of the Proletariat.
The novel begins in Verloc’s home, as he and his wife discuss the trivialities of everyday life, which introduces the reader to Verloc’s family. Soon after, Verloc leaves to meet Mr. Vladimir, the new First Secretary in the embassy of a foreign country. Although a member of an anarchist cell, Verloc is also secretly employed by the Embassy as an agent provocateur. Vladimir informs Verloc that from reviewing his service history he is far from an exemplary model of a secret agent and, to redeem himself, must carry out an operation – the destruction of Greenwich Observatory by a bomb explosion. Vladimir explains that Britain’s lax attitude to anarchism endangers his own country, and he reasons that an attack on ‘science’, which he claims is the current vogue amongst the public, will provide the necessary outrage for suppression. Verloc later meets with his friends, who discuss politics and law, and the notion of a communist revolution. Unbeknownst to the group, Stevie, Verloc’s brother-in-law, overhears the conversation, which greatly disturbs him.
The novel flashes forward to after the bombing has taken place. Comrade Ossipon meets The Professor, who discusses having given explosives to Verloc. The Professor then describes the nature of the bomb which he carries in his coat at all times: it allows him to press a button which will blow him up in twenty seconds, and those nearest to him. After The Professor leaves the meeting, he stumbles into Chief Inspector Heat. Heat is a policeman who is working on the case regarding a recent explosion at Greenwich, where one man was killed. Heat informs The Professor that he is not a suspect in the case, but that he is being monitored due to his terrorist inclinations and anarchist background. Knowing that Michaelis has recently moved to the countryside to write a book, the Chief Inspector informs the Assistant Commissioner that he has a contact, Verloc, who may be able to assist in the case. The Assistant Commissioner shares some of the same high society acquaintances with Michaelis and is chiefly motivated by finding the extent of Michaelis’s involvement in order to assess any possible embarrassment to his connections. He later speaks to his superior, Sir Ethelred, about his intentions to solve the case alone, rather than rely on the effort of Chief Inspector Heat.
The novel then flashes back to before the explosion, taking the perspective of Winnie Verloc and her mother. At home, Mrs. Verloc’s mother informs the family that she wishes to move out of the house. Mrs. Verloc’s mother and Stevie use a hansom which is driven by a man with a hook in the place of his hand. The journey greatly upsets Stevie, as the driver’s tales of hardship coupled with his menacing hook scare him to the point where Mrs. Verloc must calm him down. On Verloc’s return from a business trip to the continent, his wife tells him of the high regard that Stevie has for him and she implores her husband to spend more time with Stevie. Verloc eventually agrees to go for a walk with Stevie. After this walk, Mrs. Verloc notes that her husband’s relationship with her brother has improved. Verloc then tells his wife that he has taken Stevie to go and visit Michaelis, and that Stevie would stay with him in the countryside for a few days.
As Verloc is talking to his wife about the possibility of emigrating to the continent, he is paid a visit by the Assistant Commissioner. Shortly thereafter, Chief Inspector Heat arrives to speak with Verloc, without knowing that the Assistant Commissioner had left with Verloc earlier that evening. The Chief Inspector tells Mrs. Verloc that he had recovered an overcoat at the scene of the bombing which had the shop’s address written on a label. Mrs. Verloc confirms that it was Stevie’s overcoat, and that she had written the address. On Verloc’s return, he realises that his wife knows her brother has been killed by Verloc’s bomb, and confesses what truly happened. A stunned Mrs. Verloc, in her anguish, then fatally stabs her husband.
After the murder, Mrs. Verloc flees her home, where she chances upon Comrade Ossipon, and begs him to help her. Ossipon assists her while confessing romantic feelings but secretly with a view to possess Mr Verloc’s bank account savings. They plan to run away and he aids her in taking a boat to the continent. However, her instability and the revelation of Mr. Verloc’s murder increasingly worry him, and he abandons her, taking Mr Verloc’s savings with him. He later discovers in a newspaper that a woman had disappeared, leaving behind her a wedding ring, before drowning herself in the English Channel.
- Mr. Adolf Verloc: a secret agent who owns a shop in the Soho region of London. His primary characteristic, as described by Conrad, is indolence. He has been employed by an unnamed embassy to spy on revolutionary groups, which then orders him to instigate a terrorist act against the Greenwich Observatory. Their belief is that the resulting public outrage will force the English government to act more forcibly against emigre socialist and anarchist activists. He is part of an anarchist organisation that creates pamphlets under the heading The Future of the Proletariat. He is married to Winnie, and lives with his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Stevie.
- Mrs. Winnie Verloc: Verloc’s wife. She cares deeply for her brother Stevie, who has the mental age of a young child. Of working class origins, her father was the owner of a pub. She is younger than her husband and married him not for love but to provide a home for her mother and brother. A loyal wife, she is deeply disturbed upon learning of the death of her brother due to her husband’s plotting, and kills him with a knife in the heart. She dies, presumably by drowning herself to avoid the gallows.
- Stevie: Winnie’s brother has the mental age of a young child and is very sensitive and is disturbed by notions of violence or hardship. His sister cares for him, and Stevie passes most of his time drawing numerous circles on pieces of paper. Verloc, exploiting both Stevie’s childlike simplicity and outrage at suffering, employs him to carry out the terrorist attack on the Greenwich Observatory. However, Stevie stumbles and the bomb explodes prematurely.
- Mrs. Verloc’s mother: Old and infirm, Mrs Verloc’s mother leaves the household to live in an almshouse, believing that two disabled people (herself and Stevie) are too much for Mr Verloc’s generosity. The widow of a publican, she spent most of her life working hard in her husband’s pub and believed Mr Verloc to be a gentleman because she thought he resembled patrons of business houses (pubs with higher prices, consequently frequented by higher classes).
- Chief Inspector Heat: a policeman who is dealing with the explosion at Greenwich. An astute and practical man who uses a clue found at the scene of the crime to trace events back to Verloc’s home. Although he informs his superior what he is planning to do with regards to the case, he is initially not aware that the Assistant Commissioner is acting without his knowledge. Heat knew Verloc before the bombing as Verloc had supplied information to Heat through the Embassy. Heat has contempt for anarchists who he regards as amateurs, as opposed to burglars who he regards as professionals.
- The Assistant Commissioner: of a higher rank than the Chief Inspector, he uses the knowledge gained from Heat to pursue matters personally, for reasons of his own. The Assistant Commissioner is married to a lady with influential connections. He informs his superior, Sir Ethelred, of his intentions, and tracks down Verloc before Heat can.
- Sir Ethelred: the Secretary of State (Home Secretary) to whom the Assistant Commissioner reports. At the time of the bombing he is busy trying to pass a bill regarding the nationalisation of fisheries through the House of Commons against great opposition. He is briefed by the Assistant Commissioner throughout the novel who he often admonishes to not go into detail.
- Mr. Vladimir: the First Secretary of an embassy of an unnamed country. Though his name might suggest that this is the Russian embassy, the name of the previous first secretary, Baron Stott-Wartenheim, is Germanic, as is that of Privy Councillor Wurmt, another official of this embassy. There is also the suggestion that Vladimir is not from Europe but Central Asia. Vladimir thinks that the English police are far too soft on émigré socialist and anarchists, which are a real problem in his home country. He orders Verloc to instigate a terrorist act, hoping that the resulting public outrage will force the English government to adopt repressive measures.
- Michaelis: a member of Verloc’s group, and another anarchist. The most philosophical member of the group, his theories resemble those of Peter Kropotkin while some of his other attributes resemble Mikhail Bakunin.
- Comrade Alexander Ossipon: an ex-medical student, anarchist and member of Verloc’s group. He survives on the savings of various women he seduces, mostly working class. He is influenced by the theories on degeneracy of Cesare Lombroso. After Mr Verloc’s murder he initially helps, but afterwards abandons Winnie leaving her penniless on a train. He is later disturbed when he reads of her suicide and wonders if he will be able to seduce a woman again.
- Karl Yundt: a member of Verloc’s group, commonly referred to as an “old terrorist”.
- The Professor: another anarchist, who specialises in explosives. The Professor carries a flask of explosives in his coat that can be detonated within twenty seconds of him squeezing an india rubber ball in his pocket. The police know this and keep their distance. The most nihilistic member of the anarchists, the Professor feels oppressed and disgusted by the rest of humanity and has particular contempt for the weak. He dreams of a world where the weak are freely exterminated so that the strong can thrive. He supplies to Mr Verloc the bomb that kills Stevie.
Background: Greenwich Bombing of 1894
Conrad’s character, Stevie, is based on the French anarchist, Martial Bourdin, who died gruesomely in Greenwich Park when the explosives he carried prematurely detonated. Bourdin’s motives remain a mystery as does his intended target, which may have been the Greenwich Observatory. In the 1920 Author’s Note to the novel, Conrad recalls a discussion with Ford Madox Ford about the bombing:
[…] we recalled the already old story of the attempt to blow up the Greenwich Observatory; a blood-stained inanity of so fatuous a kind that it was impossible to fathom its origin by any reasonable or even unreasonable process of thought. For perverse unreason has its own logical processes. But that outrage could not be laid hold of mentally in any sort of way, so that one remained faced by the fact of a man blown to bits for nothing even most remotely resembling an idea, anarchistic or other. As to the outer wall of the Observatory it did not show as much as the faintest crack. I pointed all this out to my friend who remained silent for a while and then remarked in his characteristically casual and omniscient manner: “Oh, that fellow was half an idiot. His sister committed suicide afterwards.” These were absolutely the only words that passed between us […].
Terrorism and anarchism
Terrorism and anarchism are intrinsic aspects of the novel, and are central to the plot. Verloc is employed by an agency which requires him to orchestrate terrorist activities, and several of the characters deal with terrorism in some way: Verloc’s friends are all interested in an anarchistic political revolution, and the police are investigating anarchist motives behind the bombing of Greenwich.
The novel was written at a time when terrorist activity was increasing. There had been numerous dynamite attacks in both Europe and the US, as well as several assassinations of heads of state. Conrad also drew upon two persons specifically: Mikhail Bakuninand Prince Peter Kropotkin. Conrad used these two men in his “portrayal of the novel’s anarchists”. However, according to Conrad’s Author’s Note, only one character was a true anarchist: Winnie Verloc. In The Secret Agent, she is “the only character who performs a serious act of violence against another”, despite the F.P.’s intentions of radical change, and The Professor’s inclination to keep a bomb on his person.
Critics have analysed the role of terrorism in the novel. Patrick Reilly calls the novel “a terrorist text as well as a text about terrorism” due to Conrad’s manipulation of chronology to allow the reader to comprehend the outcome of the bombing before the characters, thereby corrupting the traditional conception of time. The morality which is implicit in these acts of terrorism has also been explored: is Verloc evil because his negligence leads to the death of his brother-in-law? Although Winnie evidently thinks so, the issue is not clear, as Verloc attempted to carry out the act with no fatalities, and as simply as possible to retain his job, and care for his family.
The role of politics is paramount in the novel, as the main character, Verloc, works for a quasi-political organisation. The role of politics is seen in several places in the novel: in the revolutionary ideas of the F.P.; in the characters’ personal beliefs; and in Verloc’s own private life. Conrad’s depiction of anarchism has an “enduring political relevance”, although the focus is now largely concerned with the terrorist aspects that this entails. The discussions of the F.P. are expositions on the role of anarchism and its relation to contemporary life. The threat of these thoughts is evident, as Chief Inspector Heat knows F.P. members because of their anarchist views. Moreover, Michaelis’ actions are monitored by the police to such an extent that he must notify the police station that he is moving to the country.
The plot to destroy Greenwich is in itself anarchistic. Vladimir asserts that the bombing “must be purely destructive” and that the anarchists who will be implicated as the architects of the explosion “should make it clear that [they] are perfectly determined to make a clean sweep of the whole social creation.” However, the political form of anarchism is ultimately controlled in the novel: the only supposed politically motivated act is orchestrated by a secret government agency.
Some critics, such as Fredrick R. Karl, think that the main political phenomenon in this novel is the modern age, as symbolised by the teeming, pullulating foggy streets of London (most notably in the cab ride taken by Winnie and Stevie Verloc). This modern age distorts everything, including politics (Verloc is motivated by the need to keep his remunerative position, the Professor to some extent by pride), the family (symbolised by the Verloc household, in which all roles are distorted, with the husband being like a father to the wife, who is like a mother to her brother), even the human body (Michaelis and Verloc are hugely obese, while the Professor and Yundt are preternaturally thin). This extended metaphor, using London as a center of darkness much like Kurtz’s headquarters in Heart of Darkness, presents “a dark vision of moral and spiritual inertia” and a condemnation of those who, like Mrs Verloc, think it a mistake to think too deeply.
Literary significance and reception
Initially, the novel fared poorly in both the United Kingdom and the United States, selling only 3,076 copies between 1907 and 1914. The book fared slightly better in Britain, yet no more than 6,500 copies were pressed before 1914. Although sales increased after 1914, the novel never sold more than “modestly” throughout Conrad’s lifetime. The novel was released to favourable reviews, with most agreeing with the view of The Times Literary Supplement, that the novel “increase[d] Mr. Conrad’s reputation, already of the highest.” However, there were detractors, who largely disagreed with the novel’s “unpleasant characters and subject”. Country Life magazine called the story “indecent”, whilst also criticising Conrad’s “often dense and elliptical style”.
In modern times, The Secret Agent is considered to be one of Conrad’s finest novels. The Independent calls it “[o]ne of Conrad’s great city novels” whilst The New York Times insists that it is “the most brilliant novelistic study of terrorism”. It is considered to be a “prescient” view of the 20th century, foretelling the rise of terrorism, anarchism, and the augmentation of secret societies, such as MI5. The novel is on reading lists for both secondary school pupils and university undergraduates.
Influence on Ted Kaczynski
The Secret Agent is said to have influenced the Unabomber—Theodore Kaczynski. Kaczynski was a great fan of the novel and as an adolescent kept a copy at his bedside. He identified strongly with the character of “the Professor” and advised his family to readThe Secret Agent to understand the character with whom he felt such an affinity. David Foster, the literary attributionist who assisted the FBI, said that Kaczynski “seem[ed] to have felt that his family could not understand him without reading Conrad.”
Kaczynski’s idolisation of the character was due to the traits that they shared: disaffection, hostility toward the world, and being an aspiring anarchist. However, it did not stop at mere idolisation. Kaczynski used “The Professor” as a source of inspiration, and “fabricated sixteen exploding packages that detonated in various locations”. After his capture, Kaczynski revealed to FBI agents that he had read the novel a dozen times, and had sometimes used “Conrad” as an alias. It was discovered that Kaczynski had used various formulations of Conrad’s name – Conrad, Konrad, and Korzeniowski, Conrad’s original surname – to sign himself into several hotels in Sacramento. As in his youth, Kaczynski retained a copy of The Secret Agent, and kept it with him whilst living as a recluse in a hut in Montana.
- In 1923 Conrad adapted the novel as a three-act drama of the same title.
- The novel formed the basis for Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1936 film, Sabotage, though many changes to the plot and characters were made. (Another 1936 Hitchcock film, Secret Agent, was based on short stories by W. Somerset Maugham.)
- A television adaptation of The Secret Agent was made in 1992, a three part BBC miniseries, with David Suchet as Verloc, and Cheryl Campbell as his wife Winnie. Verloc was transformed into a much more sympathetic character for this work, in which he deeply grieved for Stevie’s death.
- A 1996 film The Secret Agent, more faithful to the original novel, starred Bob Hoskins, Patricia Arquette and Gérard Depardieu.
- On 23 May 2006 the Feldkirch Festival premiered an opera based on the novel. Simon Wills wrote the music and libretto and Peter Kajlinger sang the main character, Mr.Verloc.
- A play adaptation of the novel was produced in 2007 by Alexander Gelman, the Artistic Director of Organic Theater Company in Chicago, IL. The play’s premiere took place on 18 April 2008.
- In January 2008, the play was staged in Italian by the Teatro Stabile di Genova of Genoa, under the direction of Marco Sciaccaluga.
- The Center for Contemporary Opera in New York presented the world premiere of a new opera by Michael Dellaira (music) and J D McClatchy (libretto), at the Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College on 18 March 2011. Amy Burton sang Winnie, Scott Bearden sang Verloc. It had its European premiere at the Armel International Opera Festival on 14 October 2011 in Szeged, Hungary, where the opera was broadcast live on the Arte Channel, and named the festival’s “Laureat.” Adrienn Miksch sang Winnie, Nicolas Rigas sang Verloc. The same production was reprised on 18 April 2012 at L’Opéra-Théâtre d’Avignon in Avignon, France. All productions were directed by Sam Helfrich and conducted by Sara Jobin.
- The Capitol City Opera Company of Atlanta presented the world premiere of The Secret Agent, an opera in two acts with music by Curtis Bryant and libretto by Allen Reichman at the Conant Center for Performing Arts at Oglethorpe University on 15 March 2013. Directed by Michael Nutter, the production featured soprano Elizabeth Claxton in the role of Winnie, baritone Wade Thomas as Verloc and tenor Timothy Miller as Ossipon. In this operatic treatment, originally completed in 2007 under the title The Anarchist, Winnie, discovering that she has been abandoned on the train, sings a final aria “Fooled Again.” Bryant quotes one measure from Puccini’s Tosca before Winnie leaps into the path of an oncoming train, ending her life and the opera.
|Born||Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski
3 December 1857
Terekhove near Berdychiv, Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire
|Died||3 August 1924 (aged 66)
|Resting place||Canterbury Cemetery,Canterbury|
|Occupation||Novelist, short-story writer|
|Notable works||The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’(1897)
Heart of Darkness (1899)
Lord Jim (1900)
The Secret Agent (1907)
Under Western Eyes (1911)
Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English. He was granted British nationality in 1886, but always considered himself a Pole.[note 1] Though he did not speak English fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent), he was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English sensibility into English literature.[note 2] He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit.
Joseph Conrad is considered an early modernist, though his works still contain elements of nineteenth-century realism. His narrative style and anti-heroic characters have influenced many authors, including T.S. Eliot,William Faulkner, Graham Greene, and more recently Salman Rushdie.[note 3] Many films have been adapted from, or inspired by, Conrad’s works.
Writing in the heyday of the British Empire, Conrad drew on his Polish heritage and on his experiences in the French and British merchant navies to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world, while profoundly exploring human psychology. Appreciated early on by literary critics, his fiction and nonfiction have since been seen as almost prophetic, in the light of subsequent national and international disasters of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Joseph Conrad was born on 3 December 1857 in Berdychiv, in a part of Ukraine that had belonged to the Kingdom of Poland before 1793 and was at the time of his birth under Russianrule. He was the only child of Apollo Korzeniowski and his wife Ewa Bobrowska. The father was a writer, translator, political activist, and would-be revolutionary. Conrad was christenedJózef Teodor Konrad after his maternal grandfather Józef, his paternal grandfather Teodor, and the heroes (both named “Konrad”) of two poems by Adam Mickiewicz, Dziady andKonrad Wallenrod. He was subsequently known to his family as “Konrad”, rather than “Józef”.
Though the vast majority of the surrounding area’s inhabitants were Ukrainians, and the great majority of Berdychiv’s residents were Jewish, almost all the countryside was owned by the Polish szlachta (nobility), to which Conrad’s family belonged as bearers of the Nałęcz coat-of-arms. Polish literature, particularly patriotic literature, was held in high esteem by the area’s Polish population.:1
The Korzeniowski family played a significant role in Polish attempts to regain independence. Conrad’s paternal grandfather served under Prince Józef Poniatowski during Napoleon’s Russian campaign and formed his own cavalry squadron during the November 1830 Uprising. Conrad’s fiercely patriotic father belonged to the “Red” political faction, whose goal was to re-establish the pre-partition boundaries of Poland, but which also advocated land reform and the abolition of serfdom. Conrad’s subsequent refusal to follow in Apollo’s footsteps, and his choice of exile over resistance, were a source of lifelong guilt for Conrad.[note 4]
Because of the father’s attempts at farming and his political activism, the family moved repeatedly. In May 1861 they moved to Warsaw, where Apollo joined the resistance against the Russian Empire. This led to his imprisonment in Pavilion X (Ten) of the Warsaw Citadel.[note 5] Conrad would write: “[I]n the courtyard of this Citadel – characteristically for our nation – my childhood memories begin.”:17–19 On 9 May 1862 Apollo and his family were exiled to Vologda, 500 kilometres (310 mi) north of Moscow and known for its bad climate.:19–20 In January 1863 Apollo’s sentence was commuted, and the family was sent to Chernihiv in northeast Ukraine, where conditions were much better. However, on 18 April 1865 Ewa died of tuberculosis.:19–25
Apollo did his best to home-school Conrad. The boy’s early reading introduced him to the two elements that later dominated his life: in Victor Hugo‘s Toilers of the Sea he encountered the sphere of activity to which he would devote his youth; Shakespeare brought him into the orbit of English literature. Most of all, though, he read Polish Romantic poetry. Half a century later he explained that “The Polishness in my works comes fromMickiewicz and Słowacki. My father read [Mickiewicz’s] Pan Tadeusz aloud to me and made me read it aloud…. I used to prefer [Mickiewicz’s] Konrad Wallenrod [and] Grażyna. Later I preferred Słowacki. You know why Słowacki?… [He is the soul of all Poland]”.:27
In December 1867, Apollo took his son to the Austrian-held part of Poland, which for two years had been enjoying considerable internal freedom and a degree of self-government. After sojourns in Lwów and several smaller localities, on 20 February 1869 they moved to Kraków (till 1596 the capital of Poland), likewise in Austrian Poland. A few months later, on 23 May 1869, Apollo Korzeniowski died, leaving Conrad orphaned at the age of eleven.:31–34 Like Conrad’s mother, Apollo had been gravely ill with tuberculosis.
The young Conrad was placed in the care of Ewa’s brother, Tadeusz Bobrowski. Conrad’s poor health and his unsatisfactory schoolwork caused his uncle constant problems and no end of financial outlays. Conrad was not a good student; despite tutoring, he excelled only in geography.:43 Since the boy’s illness was clearly of nervous origin, the physicians supposed that fresh air and physical work would harden him; his uncle hoped that well-defined duties and the rigors of work would teach him discipline. Since he showed little inclination to study, it was essential that he learn a trade; his uncle saw him as a sailor-cum-businessman who would combine maritime skills with commercial activities.:44–46 In fact, in the autumn of 1871, thirteen-year-old Conrad announced his intention to become a sailor. He later recalled that as a child he had read (apparently in French translation) Leopold McClintock‘s book about his 1857–59 expeditions in the Fox, in search of Sir John Franklin‘s lost ships Erebus and Terror.[note 6] He also recalled having read books by the American James Fenimore Cooper and the English Captain Frederick Marryat.:41–42 A playmate of his adolescence recalled that Conrad spun fantastic yarns, always set at sea, presented so realistically that listeners thought the action was happening before their eyes.
In August 1873 Bobrowski sent fifteen-year-old Conrad to Lwów to a cousin who ran a small boarding house for boys orphaned by the 1863 Uprising; group conversation there was in French. The owner’s daughter recalled:
He stayed with us ten months… Intellectually he was extremely advanced but [he] disliked school routine, which he found tiring and dull; he used to say… he… planned to become a great writer…. He disliked all restrictions. At home, at school, or in the living room he would sprawl unceremoniously. He… suffer[ed] from severe headaches and nervous attacks…:43–44
On 13 October 1874 Bobrowski sent the sixteen-year-old to Marseilles, France, for a planned career at sea.:44–46 Though Conrad had not completed secondary school, his accomplishments included fluency in French (with a correct accent), some knowledge of Latin, German and Greek, probably a good knowledge of history, some geography, and probably already an interest in physics. He was well read, particularly in Polish Romantic literature. He belonged to only the second generation in his family that had had to earn a living outside the family estates: he was a member of the second generation of the intelligentsia, a social class that was starting to play an important role in Central and Eastern Europe.:46–47 He had absorbed enough of the history, culture and literature of his native land to be able eventually to develop a distinctive world view and make unique contributions to the literature of his adoptive Britain.:1–5 It was tensions that originated in his childhood in Poland and grew in his adulthood abroad that would give rise to Conrad’s greatest literary achievements.:246–47 Najder, himself an emigrant from Poland, observes:
Living away from one’s natural environment – family, friends, social group, language – even if it results from a conscious decision, usually gives rise to… internal tensions, because it tends to make people less sure of themselves, more vulnerable, less certain of their… position and… value… The Polish szlachta and… intelligentsia were social strata in which reputation… was felt… very important… for a feeling of self-worth. Men strove… to find confirmation of their… self-regard… in the eyes of others… Such a psychological heritage forms both a spur to ambition and a source of constant stress, especially if [one has been inculcated with] the idea of [one]’s public duty…:47
Conrad was a Russian subject, having been born in the Russian part of what had once been the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In December 1867, with the Russian government’s permission, his father Apollo had taken him to the Austrian part of the former Commonwealth, which enjoyed considerable internal freedom and a degree of self-government. After the father’s death, Conrad’s uncle Bobrowski had attempted to secure Austrian citizenship for him – to no avail, probably because Conrad had not received permission from Russian authorities to remain abroad permanently and had not been released from being a Russian subject. Conrad could not return to Ukraine, in the Russian Empire – he would have been liable to many years’ military service and, as the son of political exiles, to harassment.:41
In a letter of 9 August 1877, Conrad’s uncle Bobrowski broached two important subjects:[note 7] the desirability of Conrad’s naturalisation abroad (tantamount to release from being a Russian subject) and Conrad’s plans to join the British merchant marine. “[D]o you speak English?… I never wished you to become naturalized in France, mainly because of the compulsory military service… I thought, however, of your getting naturalized in Switzerland…” In his next letter, Bobrowski supported Conrad’s idea of seeking citizenship of the United States or of “one of the more important Southern Republics”.:57–58
Eventually Conrad would make his home in England. On 2 July 1886 he applied for British nationality, which was granted on 19 August 1886. Yet, in spite of having become a subject of Queen Victoria, Conrad had not ceased to be a subject of Tsar Alexander III. To achieve the latter, he had to make many visits to the Russian Embassy in London and politely reiterate his request. He would later recall the Embassy’s home at Belgrave Square in his novel The Secret Agent.:112 Finally, on 2 April 1889, the Russian Ministry of Home Affairs released “the son of a Polish man of letters, captain of the British merchant marine” from the status of Russian subject.:132
In 1874 Conrad left Poland to start a merchant-marine career. After nearly four years in France and on French ships, he joined the British merchant marine and for the next fifteen years served under the Red Ensign. He worked on a variety of ships as crew member (steward, apprentice, able-bodied seaman) and then as third, second and first mate, until eventually achieving captain’s rank. Of his 19-year merchant-marine career, only about half was spent actually at sea.
Most of Conrad’s stories and novels, and many of their characters, were drawn from his seafaring career and persons whom he had met or heard about. For his fictional characters he often borrowed the authentic names of actual persons. The historic trader William Charles Olmeijer, whom Conrad encountered on four short visits to Berau in Borneo, appears as “Almayer” (possibly a simple misspelling) in Conrad’s first novel, Almayer’s Folly. Other authentic names include those of Captain McWhirr (in Typhoon), Captain Beard and Mr. Mahon (Youth), Captain Lingard (Almayer’s Folly and elsewhere), and Captain Ellis (The Shadow Line). Conrad also preserves, in The Nigger of the ‘Narcissus’, the authentic name of the Narcissus, a ship in which he sailed in 1884.
During a brief call in India in 1885–86, 28-year-old Conrad sent five letters to Joseph Spiridion,[note 8] a Pole eight years his senior whom he had befriended at Cardiff in June 1885 just before sailing for Singapore in the clipper ship Tilkhurst. These letters are Conrad’s first preserved texts in English. His English is generally correct but stiff to the point of artificiality; many fragments suggest that his thoughts ran along the lines of Polish syntax andphraseology. More importantly, the letters show a marked change in views from those implied in his earlier correspondence of 1881–83. He had departed from “hope for the future” and from the conceit of “sailing [ever] toward Poland”, and from his Panslavic ideas. He was left with a painful sense of the hopelessness of the Polish question and an acceptance of England as a possible refuge. While he often adjusted his statements to accord to some extent with the views of his addressees, the theme of hopelessness concerning the prospects for Polish independence often occurs authentically in his correspondence and works before 1914.:104–5