The Mask of Fu Manchu

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Pub. for the Crime club, by, Doubleday, Doran & Company, 1932 - Criminals - 330 pages
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In the novel, Fu Manchu is described as having green eyes, which I found odd and interesting, given that he embodies more than anything stereotypes about East Asian male subjectivity. However, it is a given that racial hierarchy is part and parcel of any empire, and there is something to be said about Fu Manchu's relation to the other Asian characters in the novel. Whereas Fu Manchu is intelligent (though conniving) and educated (though diabolical), and speaks proper English, save for the "occasional guttural", the other Asian characters mostly speak broken English in stereotypical accents. It can be said that Fu Manchu's Western characteristics (his education, his ability to plot) places himself in a mirror position with the white characters; he is as intelligent as the white man but lacks the white man's innate morality, strength and goodness (following the logic of the story). This places him below the white characters but above the regular Asian characters, as denoted by his green eyes.
There is also something to be said about the particular kind of gender that Fu Manchu embodies in the novel. He's described as being "feline", "cat-like", etc. as well as tall and lean rather than what we regularly would think of as imposing. This may not necessarily be indicative of a queer gender, but there is definitely supposed to be a contrast between Fu Manchu and Dr. Petrie. I think this hints at the ways in which masculinity is positioned as heroic, while femininity, especially in men, is positioned as evil or otherwise unwholesome.



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