By Deaglán Ó Donghaile
Dynamite novels meet intellectual modernism through the influence of terrorism. among 1880 and 1915, a number of writers exploited terrorism's political shocks for his or her personal inventive ends. Drawing on late-Victorian 'dynamite novels' through authors together with Robert Louis Stevenson, Tom Greer and Robert Thynne, radical journals and papers, reminiscent of The Irish humans, The Torch, Anarchy and Freiheit, and modernist writing from H.G. Wells and Joseph Conrad to the compulsively militant modernism of Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticists, Ó Donghaile maps the political and aesthetic connections that bind the shilling shocker heavily to modernism
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Additional info for Blasted literature : Victorian political fiction and the shock of modernism
Launched with a fatal explosion at Salford Barracks in January 1881 and lasting until 1885,66 their campaign fits the conceptual definition according to which we understand modern terrorism: the targeting of symbolic buildings, persons and places associated with the political power of an enemy government by non-state actors in order to force the passage of political concessions. The following decade saw Britain’s political order and, according to some writers, the nation’s very identity, threatened by anarchism (although in England anarchist ‘outrages’ were more imagined than real).
Zero repeats this point on the roof of the mansion, where he shows Somerset the urban ‘plain of battle’: ‘Here,’ cried Zero, ‘you behold this field of city, rich, crowded, laughing with the spoil of continents; but soon, how soon, to be laid low! Some day, some night, from this coign of vantage, you shall perhaps be startled by the detonation of the judgment gun – not sharp and empty like the crack of cannon, but deep-mouthed and unctuously solemn. Instantly thereafter, you shall behold the flames break forth.
Indd 24 06/01/2011 09:55 Introduction: Shock, Politics, Literature 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 25 spread of terrorism as a modern style of political confrontation’ (p. 8) is relevant to my own discussion of the relationship between Fenians, anarchists, British and Irish literature and the media. See Clymer, America’s Culture of Terrorism, pp. 7–9. See Élisée Réclus, ‘An Anarchist on Anarchy’, Contemporary Review, vol. xlv (January-June, 1884), May 1884, p. 638; and Evolution and Revolution (London: International Publishing, 1886, 3rd edn), p.
Blasted literature : Victorian political fiction and the shock of modernism by Deaglán Ó Donghaile