"The swamping of the white world by Yellow hordes may be the price of our failure."
November 10, 2004 5:44 PM   Subscribe

"Imagine a person, tall, lean and feline, high-shouldered, with a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, a close-shaven skull, and long, magnetic eyes of the true cat-green. Invest him with all the cruel cunning of an entire Eastern race, accumulated in one giant intellect, with all the resources of science past and present, with all the resources, if you will, of a wealthy government--which, however, already has denied all knowledge of his existence. Imagine that awful being, and you have a mental picture of Dr. Fu-Manchu, the yellow peril incarnate in one man."
Sax Rohmer's tales of the sinister Dr. Fu Manchu and his arch enemy Sir Denis Nayland Smith of the British Secret Service (the nephew of Sherlock Holmes whose name is also invoked in Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow), have fascinated readers and cinemagoers alike for the best part of the twentieth century. Two things make Fu Manchu all the more monstrous a villain: his proximity to the West, and his intellect. His base is in Limehouse, the Chinese area of London. So by allowing him to live in the country, England is vulnerable to his insidious plans (and so becomes a validation of strict immigration policy). His intellect comes from Western learning, and it is often emphasized that he has been educated in a University. So we see the evil Asian as using the West's own knowledge against it.
It is up to Nayland Smith and Dr. Petrie to stop Fu Manchu's plans in each story. As Smith remarks in The Hand of Fu Manchu, "the swamping of the white world by Yellow hordes may be the price of our failure." (more inside)
posted by matteo (16 comments total)
Sax Rohmer was born Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward (February 15, 1883 - June 1, 1959). Sax comes from Saxon, Rohmer from "roamer". French film director Eric Rohmer chose his name as an hommage to the British writer
posted by matteo at 5:47 PM on November 10, 2004

Fu Manchu attempts to influence the US Presidential election. As part of that plot, a gangster's bodyguard is hypnotized into committing murder at a given signal: the Manchurian Candidate 50 years before the actual novel! The scene, from the frontispiece, describes the actual procedure:

The snaky yellow fingers of Dr. Fu Manchu held a needle syringe. He made a quick injection and studied the motionless man before him. Then, with a delicate atomizer, Dr. Fu Manchu shot sprays up the left and right nostrils of the unconscious victim.

Ten seconds later Herman Grosset sat suddenly upright, staring wildly ahead. His gaze was caught and help by green compelling eyes only inches from his own.

"You understand — " the strange voice spoke slowly: "The word of command is 'Asia!'"

"I understand," Grosset replied.

"The word," Dr. Fu Manchu intoned hypnotically, "is 'Asia.'"

"Asia," Grosset echoed.

"Until you hear that word — " the voice seemed to come from the depths of a green lake — "forget, forget all that you have to do."

"I have forgotten."

"But when you hear the word …?"

"I shall kill!"

posted by matteo at 5:48 PM on November 10, 2004

There's plenty of material in The Rohmer Review

How Fu Manchu Was Born, by Sax Rohmer


movie trivia: the marvelous Myrna Loy once played the daughter of Fu Manchu
posted by matteo at 5:51 PM on November 10, 2004

This post is not long enough.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:59 PM on November 10, 2004

No, it's not wong enough! Ahahahahahahah!

*vanishes in flash of yellow ninja smoke*
posted by Stan Chin at 6:24 PM on November 10, 2004

This can be seen as analogous to the current islamofascist meme in the world, right?

Only trouble is, there was only one Fu Manchu.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:27 PM on November 10, 2004

... and there's only one Saddam. Or Osama. Or Khomeini. Or Qaddafi. Or ....
posted by lodurr at 7:10 PM on November 10, 2004

I hear that the Chinese devils have been plotting to cripple the US economy by selling off American government debt.
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 PM on November 10, 2004

[squints and affects stagey British detective persona] How deviously ingenious of them....
posted by lodurr at 4:21 AM on November 11, 2004

Curious -- a friend just now sent me the following, on much the same thread:

"We’ll begin with a reign of terror. A few murders here and there. Murders of great men, murders of little men, just to show we make no distinction. We might even wreck a train or two. Just these fingers ‘round a signalman’s throat. That’s all." -- Jack Griffin, The Invisible Man
posted by lodurr at 4:49 AM on November 11, 2004

Hu Flung Dung.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:41 AM on November 11, 2004

Sum Yung Gai.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 AM on November 11, 2004

Ah, so, Chinee speeking calicatule, velly funnee. I tlaii too!

Wat. Daa. Fak.

posted by casarkos at 7:50 AM on November 11, 2004 [1 favorite]

Fu Manchu was the villain in Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill's Leage of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but was deemed too controversial for the motion picture version. Why is it, do you think, that a comic book audience can understand that a stereotypical character in a comic book is not a racial slur, but an allusion to Victorian literature, but it is assumed that a film going audience wouldn't get it?

Is it okay if I blame Sean Connery?
posted by mikrophon at 8:10 AM on November 11, 2004

Many man smoke, but Fu Manchu!
posted by kindall at 8:16 AM on November 11, 2004

posted by matteo at 2:29 PM on November 11, 2004

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