Although historians and literary critics discount the practical information about terrorism in Under Western Eyes, social science research corroborates Conrad's account of terrorism and counter-terrorism in nineteenth-century Russia. According to this research, terrorists are indistinguishable from the general population until they decide to join a terrorist group, and the best way to prevent terrorism is to study the specific mindset of terrorist groups. The novel animates these findings in its depiction of fundamental similarities between the bomber and the informer. Haldin and Razumov pursue community as well as autonomy, although their paths are quite different. The novel not only presents a critique of terrorism and counter-terrorism, revolution and reform, autocracy and democracy, but also offers alternatives to the violence of the state and its opponents. While Conrad was skeptical of all ideologies, he believed that his method of presenting competing ideas fostered hope.


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pp. 53-74
Launched on MUSE
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