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OttoHarkaman

Sax Rohmer

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Wembley

So far The Mask of Fu Manchu is awesome! Fast past and mysterious, best I've read of Sax Rohmer yet.

 

Funny it is reminding me of some history I have been reading concerning Islam and the British Empire. It was a great fear in WWI that the Germans would stir up anti-British feelings in the Muslim world. I am looking forward to reading this book at some time, "Like Hidden Fire" Peter Hopkirk

 

9781568361277.jpg

 

Stirring up revolt -- the exact mirror image of our very own Lawrence of Arabia. I believe the Germans did something similar in Mesopotamia too.

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OttoHarkaman

Stirring up revolt -- the exact mirror image of our very own Lawrence of Arabia. I believe the Germans did something similar in Mesopotamia too.

 

Yes you are right, I hadn't thought about it in that way but wasn't it not so much Islam vs infidel then it was the Arab tribes against the Turks? Was there a religious element to this like Sunni and Shiite? A book was suggested to me about Lawrence on Boardgamegeek but I haven't had a chance at all to look at it;

 

Setting the Desert on Fire: T.E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-18

51Y7Hlw2MtL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

I have been listening to an audio book of Robert E. Howard's "Black Colossuses" because it was suggest "Mask of Fu Manchu" was an influence but I am not getting that impression.  

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TMS

Well, they both concern the resurrection of a veiled sorcerer, and the country of Khoraja may have been inspired by Khorassan.

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Wembley

Having fun reading "Brood of the Witch Queen", the "Romance of Sorcery" is really hard to find, surely it must be in the public domain somewhere?

It has the most repetitive plot ever.

 

Day 1: you get attacked by sorcery

 

Day 2 : see day 1

 

Day 3: see day 2

 

Day 4: ...

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OttoHarkaman

You mean "Brood of the Witch Queen"? After I finished it I don't know why HPL thought it was so great. Maybe we have to take it in the context of its time published with the height of the Egyptian craze following Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's grave? I really enjoyed "The Mask of Fu Manchu" and plan to read more of the Fu stories.

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Wembley

You mean "Brood of the Witch Queen"? After I finished it I don't know why HPL thought it was so great. Maybe we have to take it in the context of its time published with the height of the Egyptian craze following Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's grave? I really enjoyed "The Mask of Fu Manchu" and plan to read more of the Fu stories.

 

Yes. It's atmospheric, but it only plays on one note. The magic attacks do get tedious, any decent sorcerer should at least send a couple of henchmen with blunt instruments in for variety.

The Fu stories have their appeal but the stereotypes grate.

 

Perhaps the best bit in Brood was when a policeman is slipped half-a-crown to delay someone as part of a 'friendly prank'. I think they had their training in the same place as those prestige taxi drivers. Back then, half-a-crown was real money of course, you could buy a slap-up meal and still have change...

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Taavi

Perhaps the best bit in Brood was when a policeman is slipped half-a-crown to delay someone as part of a 'friendly prank'. I think they had their training in the same place as those prestige taxi drivers. Back then, half-a-crown was real money of course, you could buy a slap-up meal and still have change...

 

There you see the power of an Extreme success on a Credit Rating roll!

 

More seriously, it reflects the power of the class system back then. The hero(es) of Brood, while not aristocrats, are definitely upper class toffs; an average policeman hindering a toff in those halcyon pre-war days would seriously have to consider the risk that they might complain to his Inspector at the next Freemason's Lodge meeting...

You mean "Brood of the Witch Queen"? After I finished it I don't know why HPL thought it was so great. Maybe we have to take it in the context of its time published with the height of the Egyptian craze following Howard Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun's grave? I really enjoyed "The Mask of Fu Manchu" and plan to read more of the Fu stories.

 

I found the way Fu basically gave up after the hijacking attempt failed pretty inexplicable.

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OttoHarkaman

Looking over Rohmer's bibliography, "Masks" is close to midpoint in his Fu Manchu writings, I wonder if the character had become so popular he was starting to become de-villainized much like Godzilla? I am looking forward to reading the earlier stories. I've gotten distracted, getting caught up listening to audiobooks of REH's original Conan stories in the sequence he wrote them.  :unsure:

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deuce

Looking over Rohmer's bibliography, "Masks" is close to midpoint in his Fu Manchu writings, I wonder if the character had become so popular he was starting to become de-villainized much like Godzilla? I am looking forward to reading the earlier stories.  

 

Actually, Rohmer portrayed Fu Manchu as far more intelligent than his British foes (and possessing a sense of honor) pretty much from the start. Thus, he's more of a "heroic villain" (I despise the term "anti-hero" when applied to just about anyone other than Woody Allen) than anything else. Fu Manchu (and several of his minions) are a bit more nuanced than one might think.

 

William Patrick Maynard is probably the foremost Rohmer scholar out there. You can check out his analyses of the first Fu novel here:

 http://leogrin.com/CimmerianBlog/?s=manchu

 

...which was then carried over to Black Gate:

 

https://www.blackgate.com/page/6/?s=nayland

 

I believe Maynard overviews about six novels total.

 

Doc Hermes has more succinct reviews here:

 

http://dr-hermes.livejournal.com/tag/fu%20manchu

 

I also like his look at the "Yellow Peril" Phenomenon here:

 

http://dr-hermes.livejournal.com/145787.html

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Wembley

Actually, Rohmer portrayed Fu Manchu as far more intelligent than his British foes (and possessing a sense of honor) pretty much from the start. Thus, he's more of a "heroic villain" (I despise the term "anti-hero" when applied to just about anyone other than Woody Allen) than anything else. Fu Manchu (and several of his minions) are a bit more nuanced than one might think.

 

 

 

Up to a point. To use an HPL comparison, the Chinese are like the Elder Things: they are different to us, and our enemies, but they are also our equals. I'm not sure he's more intelligent that his foes, but he's certainly a genius, and a man who can be relied on to keep his word (as Nayland Smith is forced to do in at least one story).

 

What Rohmer never really seems to look at is the whole colonial situation in China and why Fu Manchu might have legitimate political goals in wanting the Europeans out. But then who these days is interested in whether the Iranians have legitimate goals when they can just be used as baddies...

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Wembley

Yes, it was appallingly racist,

While the evil Doctor may have had a certain nobility and been a gentleman and a worthy opponent etc, the books themselves are saturated with basic racism and constantly make references to supposed differences between western and oriental (and arab and other) minds.

But you've got to admire the writer for a stab at making it sound otherwise -- and comparing Rohmer to Lovecraft in the 'brilliant bad writer' stakes.

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