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