ABSTRACT

Whereas the previous chapters have focused on the period of 1848-61 and have pursued close readings of the works in this period, this chapter will move beyond these years to a survey of conspiracy fiction in the late-Victorian and the “long” Edwardian periods. Near the end of the nineteenth century, conspiracy narratives proliferated in England, and, as a result, these conspiracy narratives as a related body of works (under various headings) have been discussed by critics at some length. Among the most important of these critical discussions are Barbara Arnett Melchiori’s Terrorism in the Late Victorian Novel, virtually all of I.F. Clarke’s work on “invasion-scare” narratives, Joseph A. Kestner’s The Edwardian Detective, 1901-15, and innumerable studies on spy fiction, particularly those by David A.T. Stafford, Michael Denning, and John G. Cawelti and Bruce A. Rosenberg. My own discussion, however, takes its cue from Stephen Arata’s “The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization.” In this essay, Arata touches upon the work of Melchiori (on dynamite novels) and Clarke, then introduces a third type of conspiracy genre (though not overtly designating it as such)—the reverse colonization narrative, in which a colonized entity returns to haunt or terrorize its colonizer. Adding spy fiction to the list, we have the four types of conspiracy narratives that I shall take up in this chapter-dynamite, invasion-scare, reverse colonization, and espionage.