Ravachol spent his life as a sort of criminal jack-of-all-trades—smuggler, counterfeiter, grave-robber, murderer, bomber—and then, at the end of that career, was made a secular saint, “the violent Christ of anarchy.” And he was hardly the only one of the illegalists and attentateurs who was subsequently mythologized. Indeed, in the long war between anarchists and the agents of capitalism and the state, mythology has been a tool used on both sides. The items collected here are drawn from that war and are part of a literature in which history and myth are often inextricable. The collection includes items previously contained in the archives Relics of Saint-Ravachol and A Beautiful Nihilist.
When one is found, among the little phalanx of those who carry themselves bravely, among those whom the idea of liberty has touched with its wing, who, thanks to individual circumstances, feels, at some moment, the sentiments of human dignity stir powerfully within them, rebelling against the cowardice imposed by society on the individual; when, rid of age-old prejudices arising from a contemptible education, which teach men to idolize strength and success, one of them rises up to threaten power and wealth; when, finally weary of being a tacit accomplice in injustices, he strikes at the head or at the belly of the social body; and when, separating from those who perform or support these iniquities, he haughtily hurls himself, like a bloody challenge, head-first at society, then the careless, spineless crowd, forced to think, bays stupidly. […]