David Mulry, Conrad Among the Anarchists: Nineteenth Century Anarchism and the Secret Agent, Palgrave Macmillan
The inception, composition, and 1907 publication of The Secret Agent, one of Joseph Conrad’s most highly regarded political novels and a core text of literary modernism. This book examines the development and revisions of the novel through the stages of the holograph manuscript, first as a short story, then as a serialized sensation fiction in Ridgway’s Militant Weekly for the American market, before it was extensively revised and published in novel form. Presciently anticipating the climate of modern terror, Conrad’s text responds to the failed Greenwich Bombing, the first anarchist atrocity to occur on English soil. This book charts its historical and cultural milieu via press and anarchist accounts of the bombing, to place Conrad foremost among the dynamite fiction of revolutionary anarchism and terrorism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Western thought has often dismissed shadows as fictional, but what if fictions reveal original truths? Drawing on an anti-Platonic tradition in critical theory, Lawtoo adopts ethical, anthropological, and philosophical lenses to offer new readings of Joseph Conrad’s novels and the postcolonial and cinematic works that respond to his oeuvre. He argues that Conrad’s fascination with doubles urges readers to reflect on the two sides of mimesis: one side is dark and pathological, and involves the escalation of violence, contagious epidemics, and catastrophic storms; the other side is luminous and therapeutic, and promotes communal survival, postcolonial reconciliation, and plastic adaptations to changing environments. Once joined, the two sides reveal Conrad as an author whose Janus-faced fictions are powerfully relevant to our contemporary world of global violence and environmental crisis.