‘A Dagger, a Revolver, a Bottle of Chloroform’: Colonial Spy Fiction, Revolutionary Reminiscences and Indian Nationalist Terrorism in Europe

  • Ole Birk Laursen


With British and French imperial ambitions during the First World War in mind, this chapter returns to questions of terrorism, planned violence, and porous European borders to examine W. Somerset Maugham’s short story ‘Giulia Lazzari’ (Ashenden; or, the British agent. Doubleday, New York, 1928) alongside the revolutionary reminiscences of the Indian nationalists Virendranath ‘Chatto’ Chattopadhyaya and M. P. T. Acharya. Straddling both anti-colonial and anarchist circles, the revolutionary infrastructures and networks in place in Europe in the early twentieth century allowed Chatto and Acharya to travel frequently across borders in pursuit of Indian freedom, resorting sometimes to the use of terrorism, while those networks also enabled them to escape European intelligence services. Challenging the Orientalist discourse of Maugham’s colonial spy fiction, Chatto’s and Acharya’s counter-narratives, I suggest, provide a more nuanced understanding of Indian anti-colonialism, anarchist terrorism, and the rhetoric of revolutionary reminiscences.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ole Birk Laursen
    • 1
  1. 1.The Open UniversityLondonUK

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