Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blogging Sax Rohmer’s The Golden Scorpion, Part One – “The Cowled Man”

Sax Rohmer’s The Golden Scorpion was first printed in its entirety in The Illustrated London News Christmas Number in December 1918. It was published in book form in the UK the following year by Methuen and in the US in 1920 by McBride & Nast. Rohmer divided the novel into four sections which is how we shall examine the book over the next four weeks. “The Cowled Man” is the title Rohmer selected for the first part of the book and comprises the first eleven chapters.

Despite featuring several characters from Rohmer’s 1915 novel, The Yellow Claw, The Golden Scorpion marked a return to the style and feel of Rohmer’s Fu-Manchu thrillers which had concluded the previous year with the publication of The Si-Fan Mysteries (1917). Rohmer maintained the more realistic Limehouse crime novel approach of The Yellow Claw for his contemporaneous Red Kerry detective series which started with Dope (1919), but chose to fashion The Golden Scorpion from the same Yellow Peril weird menace cloth that made his reputation as an author. The key difference from the Fu-Manchu thrillers is that Rohmer maintains a third person narrative voice (as he had in The Yellow Claw) rather than recreating the frantic paranoia that marked Dr. Petrie’s first person narratives.


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