Specters of Conrad: Espionage and the Modern West
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By the end of the nineteenth century, the threat posed by Catholicism is magnified and expanded to include a general fear of an overwhelming yet fictitious Continental invasion. Focusing on the popular genre of invasion fiction inaugurated by Sir George Chesney’s The Battle of Dorking (1871) and its literary offspring, the fin-de-siècle English spy novel, this chapter argues that these invasion fantasies give birth to a new politics of the Gothic that finds its way into Conrad’s life and work. Conrad’s political writings, which reveal his attempt to secure his genealogical kinship with an expanded definition of Englishness over against an artificially invoked Slavic lawlessness, create suggestive contexts for reading Under Western Eyes (1911) as a prime example of Conrad’s modernist Gothic.