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COLE, Sarah.- "Dynamite Violence and Literary Culture"

Tuesday 22 October 2013, by ps

Modernism/Modernity. Baltimore: Apr 2009. Vol. 16, Iss. 2; pg. 301, 28 pgs

Abstract (Summary)

The figure of the anarchist bomber (the "dynamitard" in contemporary parlance), his violent acts (referred to as "outrages" or "attentats"), his favored technology (especially dynamite bombs), and his uncertain aims (total destruction, according to most accounts) together presented the British public with a nexus of problems and images which, for three decades, were explored in journalism and in fiction. Not surprisingly, popular novels that invoked the specter of anarchist violence flourished in this period, in a subgenre-the dynamite novel-which freely employed elements common to such nineteenth-century genres as the detective novel, the industrial novel, (proto)science fiction, fantasy novels of invasion and/or world war, and melodrama. These texts-with such titles as A Modern Dedalus (1886), For Maimie’s Sake: A Tale of Love and Dynamite (1886), Dynamiter (1887), Hartmann the Anarchist (1893) and The Angel of the Revolution (1893)-helped to configure the anarchist as type, and also lingered on the physical quality of dynamite, with villains inevitably designated as chemists and the smoke of detonated bombs a feature of the ever-threatened landscape. [...] the structure of anarchist violence seems to come down to two poles: the exploded body (Stevie’s physical decimation) and the menace of the Professor (endlessly seeking a form of total annihilation).