ARTH 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Ronald Knox, Sax Rohmer, Nils Asther

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EAST 215
Week 11 — March 23
How the West Sees the East — History of Yellow-Face in Hollywood Part 2
The Detection Club (1930)
-The Detection Club: a group of British mystery authors including G.K Chesterton, Agatha
Christie and Ronald Knox
-Initiation ceremony includes: “Is it your firm desire to become a Member of the Detection
Club” “Do you promise that your detectives shall well and truly detect the crimes presented to
them, using those wits which my please your to bestow upon them and not placing reliance
on, nor making use of Divine Revelation, Feminine Intuition…or the act of God?”
-“Do you promise to observe a seemly moderation in the use of gangs, conspiracies…
chinamen, lunatics…”
-Chinamen was listed as unfair to readers — elements that would make detective stories
Ronald Knox: 10 Commandments of Detective Fiction
1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story
2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as matter of course
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowed
4. No undiscovered poisoned may be used that would need scientific explanation at the end
5. No use of chinamen
**The use of Chinamen in their stories would result in a cheap/ poorly written story**
No Chinamen in the story:
-The Chinese is over-equipped in the matter of brains, and under-equipped in the matter of
-Believed that if you come across the mention of the slit-like eyes of Chin Loo — recommends
readers to put the book down immediately, as it is bad
-Only exception is Lord Ernest Hamilton’s Four Tragedies of Memworth
Chinese Characters in Detective Fiction = Villains and Criminals
-This trend started in British detective fictions as seen in The Maker of Moon (1896), The
Yellow Hand (1904)…
-The fear of “Yellow Peril” prevailed in Europe (mostly France) was the fear of Yellow races
(Japanese and Chinese) that was seen in 1894 and 1895
-The Yellow Peril was discussed in England and the US after 1900
-The villainous Chinese character “Fu Manchu” was created in response to this context
Sax Rohmer (b. 1883-1959)
-Wrote the Fu Manchu Series — promoted the intersexual relationships with white and
Chinese men
-Seen as a way to take over the white race
-These books were very popular in the UK and the United States
Fu Manchu in the United States
-The American people in the US were very imporessed by the movies made after Fu Manchu
-Warner Oland played Fu Manchu — became known for his role as this character
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)
-The actor that played General Yen — Nils Asther (Swedish)
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