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A Very Good Job for a Swede

E.S. Turner, 4 September 1997

The Fu Manchu Omnibus: Vol. II 
by Sax Rohmer.
Allison and Busby, 630 pp., £9.99, June 1997, 0 7490 0222 0
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... The filmy-eyed mandarin, who surfaced on the bookstalls in 1913, was described by his creator, Sax Rohmer, as ‘the Yellow Peril incarnate in one man’. The notion of a Yellow Peril (currently the ‘China threat’ or the ‘Asian tiger menace’) first emerged in the 1890s in Germany. By then, of course, there was already a German Peril, as even ...

‘His eyes were literally on fire’

David Trotter: Fu Manchu, 5 March 2015

The Yellow Peril: Dr Fu Manchu & the Rise of Chinaphobia 
by Christopher Frayling.
Thames and Hudson, 360 pp., £24.95, October 2014, 978 0 500 25207 9
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... Fu Manchu, the invention of an Edwardian hack-writer and music-hall lyricist who called himself Sax Rohmer. Fu Manchu has green eyes, a close-shaven skull, a long silken robe, an Arabian slave-girl and a performing marmoset; and he wages war on the West, pretty much for the hell of it, with the aid of a small army of dacoits, Thugs and zombies. ‘His ...

The ashtrays worry me

Emilie Bickerton: Eric Rohmer, 19 March 2015

Eric RohmerBiographie 
by Antoine de Baecque and Noël Herpe.
Stock, 605 pp., €29, January 2014, 978 2 234 07561 0
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Friponnes de porcelaine 
by Eric Rohmer.
Stock, 304 pp., €20, January 2014, 978 2 234 07631 0
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... Eric Rohmer​ never left things to chance, but he did make use of the unexpected. It’s a paradox we find a lot in his films, and something he practised daily in the double life he lived for more than seventy years. In his film-making he demanded exhaustive preparation and absolute precision: he recorded countless sunsets disappearing into the sea in the hope of capturing one elusive green ray; he planted flowers so that a month later an actor could pick a rose; he posted mail to a false address to check a plot point that rested on a letter not reaching its destination ...

The Olympics Scam

Iain Sinclair: The Razing of East London, 19 June 2008

... of the churchyard is beyond our reach. The author of sensationalist ‘yellow peril’ fictions, Sax Rohmer, had a particular interest in this pyramid. It was known to his evil genius, Fu Manchu, with his fiendish plots and intimacy with London’s riverine quarters, its extensive subterranea. A panel in the pyramid gave entry to a network of ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... their own fashion. He was a skilled maker of supernatural thrillers, which combine a penchant for Sax Rohmer with the Gospel of St John, mingling (as Lewis put it) the probable and the marvellous. Like Graham Greene, he worked best when he was putting his spiritual concerns into the form of popular fiction. Human beings are glimpsed in the light of an ...

Who is Stewart Home?

Iain Sinclair, 23 June 1994

... complete set of Petra Christian ... the likes of Abe Merit, Clark Ashton Smith, C.L. Moore, Sax Rohmer, H. Warner Munn and William Hope Hodgson ... an Australian edition of Beyond the Barrier of space by Pel Torro’) or by the brands of whisky it takes to energise the drifter, the psychic geographer. Decisions as crucial as compass-bearings taken ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... book sound as exotic and off-limits as Thomas Burke’s Chinatown or the paranoid subterranea of Sax Rohmer. (Hugo Barnacle in the Independent was the brave exception, risking lèse-majesty by exposing Original Sin as unoriginal detective fiction: clunking ‘homages’ to Margery Allingham, lousy craftsmanship, and evidence doctored in the best ...

The Last London

Iain Sinclair, 30 March 2017

... literature, and it is often associated with the river. You arrive at a sensationalist hack like Sax Rohmer with his fear of the Chinese. He wrote a book called The Devil Doctor, published in 1916. Cover illustrations for cheap railway editions show Fu Manchu pointing a claw like Trump and sending his minions into the darkened city. Confronting this ...

Where is this England?

Bernard Porter: The Opium War, 3 November 2011

The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China 
by Julia Lovell.
Picador, 458 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 330 45747 7
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... their families with them’ was to blame for these marriages. There was no such policy.) Later on, Sax Rohmer’s Dr Fu Manchu came to embody the modern Yellow Peril – all evidence, Lovell thinks, of the lasting legacy of the war. She may be exaggerating here – she isn’t as surefooted on the British aspect of her subject as she seems to be on the ...

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