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This paper examines three narratives by Joseph Conrad in which the author deploys anarchist characters. The anarchists presented inThe Secret Agent are “shams” who do not attempt any performative anarchist act but instead merely recite abstract philosophies. One such sham, Verloc, leads Stevie to bomb himself instead of the Observatory in a conspiracy to warn the British police against the anarchist movement. In the aftermath of the inadvertent self-destruction of Stevie, his devoted sister murders Verloc and then commits suicide. Such acts of “madness and despair,” induced by the fraudulent anarchist, do not change the world but destroy the fanatics themselves. Similarly, in Conrad’s “The Informer,” the fake anarchist informer turns out to be a fanatic who sacrifices himself for the “amateur” Lady Anarchist. It seems ironic that Mr. X (who criticizes the lady for pretending to be an anarchist with “gestures of revolutionary convictions”) also belongs to the upper class. Both the lady and X are imposters who again contribute to the destruction of the fanatic. Finally, Conrad’s “An Anarchist” narrates the “gullibility” of a working-class man. Situated on a penal island, the protagonist meets those anarchists who lured him into the movement, and he kills them in a rage, in order to be free from their influence. This act of violence leads to dire consequences, and it seems that Conrad’s excavations of anarchy are not only prescient, but serve as a warning. Conrad’s tales of anarchists reveal that the shams, rather than the fanatics, are destructive, particularly to the fanatic or fanatically disposed.