Relating the exploration of secrecy in Conrad’s The Secret Agent to Derrida’s engagement with secrecy reveals a striking proximity: Derrida and Conrad both evoke what might be called a secret without secret, a depthless secret beyond the secret, and thereby displace the secret with content. It also reveals a striking divergence. Not sharing Derrida’s passion for the secret without secret, Conrad – at least in this text – does not bear witness to what Derrida describes as “democracy to come,” nor exemplify the attempt to loosen “the sway of the Author” that Barthes affirms.


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