Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines constructions of anarchism in selected fiction published in Britain between 1885 and 1914. It does so in the larger context of ideological constructions of anarchism within late-Victorian and Edwardian media, popular and literary culture. It also makes use, particularly in its first two chapters, of the work of M. M. Bakhtin, through whom it understands the novel as dialogizing these cultural ideologies.;Chapter One documents the emergence of what I call an anarchist typology, or collection of stereotypes of anarchists and anarchism that indicates a late nineteenth century anxiety about the possibility of revolution. It traces the meaning of the overdetermined terms 'anarchy' and 'anarchism' since the sixteenth century and then looks at constructions of these terms in the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods, providing a brief survey of relevant anarchist theory and practice.;Chapter Two offers a Bakhtinian reading of Henry James's The Princess Casamassima, showing how the novel constructs anarchism primarily as a threat to art. It demonstrates that James's monoglossic prose style represses the heteroglossia represented for him by naturalism and newspaper discourse, which are regarded as forms of aesthetic anarchy. It then shows how the novel's anxiety about anarchism centres upon its construction of the movement as a form of class-mixing.;Chapter Three examines the strategies by which Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent contains the incomprehensible nihilism that anarchism represents in the Author's Note to the novel. These strategies permit the construction of anarchism as a form of fraudulent self-deception symptomatic of a widespread social degeneracy in British society. The chapter examines in detail the novel's ambivalent engagement with Nietzsche, showing how through a dialogue with Nietzschean intertexts anarchism is constructed as a form of religious fanaticism that is connected with the dangers of both foreign imperialism and the lower classes.;Chapter Four examines G. K. Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday as a blatant articulation of populist and imperialist ideology that constructs anarchism as a threat to the British way of life exemplified by the figure of the "common man." This construction is further determined by anarchism's articulation within the context of Catholic ideology as a form of spiritual fakery associated with the demonic.



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