Fantastic Victoriana: Q

uartz, Dr. Jack. I haven't put many entries for the opponents of main characters on this site, but I have included one or two, including Kiang-Ho, because some villains are so memorable they simply must be included. Dr. Jack Quartz, Moriarty to Nick Carter's Holmes, is one of those. Quartz was introduced in The Nick Carter Library, number 13, October 31, 1891, predating Moriarty by two years. Quartz is an unjustly forgotten character; in his own time and place, he was striking in his evil, and the authors of the Nick Carter stories knew this and brought him back after he'd been hung. And shot. And burned. And blown up. Quartz returned from seemingly sure death a number of times, fights Nick Carter one last time, after 25 previous appearances, in the February 1927 issue of Detective Story Magazine, when he was jailed and then forgotten about. In some later stories he is referred to as "Dr. Quartz II," leaving the reader unsure as to whether the character has been reincarnated or not, but the spirit, if not the body, is the same throughout.

An actual image of Dr. Quartz--fancy that!Dr. Quartz was a vivisectionist. Unfortunately, his preferred area of expertise and experimentation was on living humans, preferably beautiful women (although he had a jones to dissect Nick Carter, Nick being the finest physical specimen Quartz had ever encountered). In the 1895 "The Fate of Dr. Quartz, or Nick Carter and the Dissecting Room Murder" Quartz summed up his obsession: "She was beautiful. I like beautiful girls. I like to cut them up. It is my passion." Quartz was suave, with a magnetic personality, and highly skilled at hypnotism, which helped him get victims. Quartz was also insane and enjoyed practicing outré forms of murder and reveling in death. In one story he had a train boxcar as his sitting room, and surrounding the central table was a ring of embalmed corpses playing bridge. In another story his dining room was wallpapered with butterflies (pinned there while living) and human eyeballs. He is capable of a variety of exotic tricks; in one story he escapes from the Dannemora state prison by means of the "East Indian rope trick."

Quartz also ran a crime school, as Carter had his detective school. Quartz taught the willing students (street urchins, for the most part) how to murder through obscure means, such as untraceable poisons and deadly gases. Quartz also made use of beautiful women as his assistants. One of them, Zanoni the Woman Wizard, was Quartz's ward and a willing participant, having committed "every known crime twice over," including the murder of her own sister, but once she met Nick it was all up for her; she fell in love with him and reformed. (Well, it wasn't quite that simple. Quartz managed to drug Nick Carter and make him think that he was a wealthy invalid and that Zanoni was his wife. Nick treated Zanoni so nicely and with such tenderness and affection that her better nature was aroused). Other assistants included Gaston Dupont, a French thief and character quite similar to Arsene Lupin, Dr. Crystal, a vivisectionist-in-training, and the deadly El Sombre, the Shadow. On one occasion Dr. Quartz brought together thirteen old enemies of Carter and led them, as an early Super Team Of Evil, against Carter.

Nick Carter describes the good doctor this way, in New Nick Carter Weekly #692, "Doctor Quartz Again; or, Nick Carter's Shrewdesty Opponent":

"Intellectually, he is the most remarkable man I have ever known. His intelligence is quite the most profound of any person I have ever known. In education, he is thoroughly versed in every branch of science. I believe that he speaks, fluently, every language that is worth speaking at all--many more of them that I do, myself, and I have mastered twelve. Physically, he is a stronger man than Sandow, or I. His manners are perfect. He is at home amid any surroundings, in any costume, under all circumstances. He has always seemed to know everything, and to be ready to make use of anything whenever the occasion should arrive. He is handsome of feature, and has the most wonderful eyes that ever looked out of a human head.

"He used to be dark, always smooth-shaven, and one would think him fat until it was discovered that the fat is all muscle. He is as quick as a cat. He never loses his temper. He is almost without facial expression, save for two things: he smiles in a manner that is peculiar to himself--and one may grow to understand the many different moods interpreted by that smile: and his eyes can shoot a distinct meaning into you without a spoken word being uttered.

"If Doctor Quartz had lived on this earth a thousand years, and had taken post-graduate courses, and had secured diplomas in every branch of learning that is studied in the universities today he would not be more superbly equipped in professional and scientific knowledge than I, personally, know him to be. That, Chick, is Doctor Quartz. And now, when you add to all that--or, rather, subtract from it--the fact that he is totally without two qualities possessed by other humans, you will understand better what the man is."

"What are those qualities?"

"Morality and conscience. The man recognizes no moral responsibility, and he has no conscience at all. Compassion, in any form, is a meaningless term to him. Consideration for another, or for the sufferings of others, he does not know. The only law he recognizes at all is the law of power, of might, of attainment, of succeeding in whatever he undertakes to do. He worships beauty, as beauty alone, but destroys it with the same lack of compunction that he would manifest in plucking a blade of grass from the ground. He loves women, but only just so far as they can serve him, and that done, he destroys them just as he would do with that same blade of grass I have mentioned."

In the next issue, "The Famous Case of Doctor Quartz," Carter describes Quartz in Hannibal Lecter-esque terms:
"The man has always seemed to me to be without a sense of moral responsibility; without conscience; without the power of feeling compassion; without the ability to determine between rightdoing and wrongdoing, as we define the two terms; without consideration for anything human, animal, moral, legal, save only his own inclination of the moment. I do not think that he regards himself as criminal, for he recognized no right, save that of power to do and perform."

"He is a monster!"

"From our standpoint, unquestionably so; from his, we are like so many flies that he brushes aside, or ants that we tread upon without seeing as we pass. That man lying there now is the supreme egoist of the world. We exist in his world, no more than we recognize the animal life in the water we swallow when thirsty."

Quartz, moreover, discovered (while searching for the "fabled fountain of perpetual youth") an elixir that is capable of putting a body into what is essentially suspended animation. Quartz uses this to fool Nick Carter and the police on at least one occasion. (His reaction to the discovery of this serum is to think about how he could use it to knock out Nick Carter and then remove his legs, so that Carter would awake "with only two stumps remaining where your legs had been, and you would be totally ignorant as to how and when you had lost them, and would have felt no pain at all." He's a peach, Quartz is).

For all of this, though, Quartz loves the game of duelling with Carter, and both of them use the imagery of a chess game in the fight against each other. Carter believes that Quartz would never kill him, "because in doing so he would deprive himself of one of the greatest pleasures he knows," and events prove Carter to be right. This does not, however mean that he wouldn't kill and mutilate those closest to Carter. In "The Famous Case of Doctor Quartz" he kidnaps Ida Jones and Adelina de Mendoza, respectively Carter's female assistant and the wife of Patsy Garvan, one of Carter's two best assistants. Quartz then sends Carter a letter informing him that he, Quartz, has Adelina and Ida and that "I'll give you twenty-four hours to find them. If you don't accomplish the impossible by that time--well, you won't want to." His letters to Carter are his one weakness; he loves to boast and to give hints to Carter about what he's going to do. And his word is always good; he does give Carter a whole day to find Ida and Adelina. (Carter does, naturally). In this he's like Sexton Blake's "sportsman" crooks, Dr. Ferraro, Zenith the Albino, and Dr. Huxton Rymer, among others: Quartz has a sense of honor and plays by the rules of the game. (I go into a little more detail about this on my Sexton Blake Page). Blake himself recognizes and appreciates this about Quartz:

I would rely upon a promise of his, seriously made, as quickly as upon that of any other man I know. He would cut your throat, or shoot you cheerfully, if the notion took him, but he wouldn't lie to you--at least, not unless he had a distinct and well-settled purpose in doing so. He would not lie to you, or to me, about what he would call a trivial thing--and that is the way he would class this.
The "this" is lying to Carter about how long he has to find Ida and Adelina.

Dr. Quartz, in sum, is one of the all-time great villains, and deserves to be remembered and even resurrected.

uasimodo. Quasimodo was created by the great Victor Hugo and appeared in Notre Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1831). Hugo is a giant of 19th century French letters; his fifty year output of poetry, novels, and plays is a daunting oeuvre the likes of which few writers can measure up to. Notre Dame de Paris is perhaps not one of his masterpieces–his Les Miserables and poetry collection Les Contemplations are, I think, his best work–but it was enormously popular in Hugo’s lifetime and is still a very interesting read. It’s a sprawling novel, almost overstuffed with information about life in Paris in the 15th century. It’s a cornucopia of characters and places and vivid portrayals of both. Although Hugo is interested in telling the main story, of Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Claude Frollo, and Phoebus, he’s just as interested in relating the history of Paris and what it was like in the 12th century, in describing what the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris at its height, in social commentary (using characters as metaphors for different social classes, for example), and in working out the theme of decay, whether of the Cathedral, Paris, architecture, or the monarchy itself.

Although Quasimodo is the character most often recalled from this novel, he is not the main character in the novel. That is the Cathedral itself, with Paris being nearly as central a character to the story. Leaving aside Hugo’s many digressions (which, I think, were more interesting to him than the plot), the story of Notre Dame de Paris is about Esmeralda, a beautiful Romany (Gypsy) girl. Esmeralda is loved by three men: Quasimodo, the brutish, hunchbacked ringer of the Cathedral’s bells; Claude Frollo, the priest who changes, in the course of the novel, from severe and grave but essentially humane to diabolical; and Pierre Gringoire, an outcast writer (and the most annoying character in the book). Esmeralda, for her part, loves the handsome soldier Phoebus, who saved her life from a gang of thieves and from Quasimodo (a case of mistaken motives) and in so doing won her heart. Esmeralda holds Pierre Gringoire at arm’s length, not seeing him as particularly worthy. Esmeralda dislikes Claude Frollo, with the dislike deepening into fear and hatred as Frollo increasingly succumbs to temptation. Esmeralda is initially afraid of Quasimodo, but after she is rescued from a mob by him, and he hides her in the Cathedral and brings her food, she treats him a little kindly. But she’s in love with Phoebus, and although Quasimodo is obviously smitten with her she is oblivious and unconsciously cruel to Quasimodo about her love for Phoebus. Phoebus, for his part, wants Esmeralda only for sex and thinks little of her otherwise.

It all ends badly, with Frollo betraying Esmeralda to the police and then watching and laughing diabolically as she is hanged. Quasimodo, outraged, pushes Frollo off the Cathedral from a great height and watches him die. Quasimodo’s body is found years later clutching Esmeralda’s.

As I said, Notre Dame de Paris is almost too full of information; the pages seem to groan under the weight of all the facts and information about medieval Paris which Hugo has put into the novel. The infodumps, such as they are, are not intolerable, although I must confess that they didn’t really hold my interest. (In the interest of honesty, I didn’t find Notre Dame de Paris particularly interesting. Well written, yes. But it bored me). Again, the Cathedral is really the main character of the novel, with Paris a close second. Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Pierre Gringoire, Phoebus, and Claude Frollo each get their own chapters; the novel tells a series of rotating stories about each. Hugo invests most of the novel with an acute consciousness not just of history but also of class. Hugo also shows how the “justice” system of the time mistreated accused criminals, who were helpless to resist.

Quasimodo is actually a rather sad character. He is deformed, an ugly hunchback with a wart covering one eye. The public is suspicious of him, put off by his ugliness and suspecting him of trafficking with the Devil. When he ventures out into the public people hurl verbal abuse at him. When his body was found on the Cathedral’s steps a gang of old women wanted to drown him. Only Claude Frollo ever treated him kindly, until Esmeralda did. Quasimodo has no friends, and is deaf from the bell ringing (his job is to ring the bells of the Cathedral). He treats the bells as his friends and talks to them. It is the Cathedral which is Quasimodo’s home, and indeed his whole world; he has little awareness of what lies outside the Cathedral and when it is invaded by ruffians, Quasimodo violently defends it. He is, of course, very very strong.

On the whole, I'm glad I read Notre Dame de Paris, but I've no interest in ever returning to it.

uatermain, Allan. Allan Quatermain was created by H. Rider Haggard and appeared in sixteen novels and several short stories, beginning with King Solomon’s Mines (1885) and Allan Quatermain (as “Allan Quatermain” in Longmans Magazine, Jan-Aug 1887, and then as Allan Quatermain later that year). Haggard (1856-1925) will never be known as one of the great writers of his time, but he was immensely influential, virtually single-handedly creating the Lost Race genre of novels (see below) as well as sparking popular interest in fiction in Africa. And (even more importantly) he tells a cracking good story, which over a century later can still be read with pleasure.

King Solomon’s Mines is about how Allan Quatermain, noted big game hunter and guide in Africa, is hired by Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good to find Sir Henry’s missing brother. Quatermain is known and trusted in the Natal, which is why they turn to him. Quatermain, as it happens, knows that Sir Henry’s brother Neville was looking for the legendary diamond mines of King Solomon, and what is more Quatermain knows (or at least has a rough idea, thanks to a very old map) of where the mines are. Quatermain agrees to accompany Curtis and Good on this trip, more out of boredom and the money he is offered than any other reason. They hire a group of servants, one of whom, Umbopa, has great qualities and is clearly more than just another native bearer.

After a long, suffering-filled journey the group eventually reaches Kakuanaland, the kingdom in which the Mines are located, but they find that Kakuanaland is ruled by Twala, a cruel dictator, who is advised by the withered crone and witch Gagool. Quatermain et al further discover that Umbopa is actually Ignosi, the son of the rightful king of Kakuanaland, whose father Twala killed. Ignosi leads a rebellion against Twala and after a bloody pitched battle is victorious. Gagool survives the battle and agrees to lead Quatermain, Curtis and Good to the Mines. She springs a trap on them, killing herself and a native girl who loved Good, but Quatermain, Curtis and Good manage to escape with a pocketful of diamonds. The group returns to civilization and Ignosi vows to close the borders of Kakuanaland behind them.

In Allan Quatermain (I lack the time to read more than just these two Quatermain novels) the trio reunite and return to Africa; Allan’s son Harry has died and Allan is sick of England and civilization and wants to embrace his savage side. This time they travel into the interior of Africa in search of a perhaps-mythical race of white natives. They are accompanied by Quatermain’s old companion, the Zulu warrior Umslopogaas. The quartet travel deep into Africa and after another difficult trip, in which they fight against 250 Masai and survive a harrowing canoe trip past a venting volcanic jet, they discover Zu-Vendis, a civilization of white Africans ruled by two queens. One, Nyleptha, is good. The other, Sorais, is...not so good. Both Sorais and Nyleptha fall in love with Curtis, who is a tall, burly blond-haired Danish/Viking type. Curtis falls in love with Nyleptha. Spurned and furious, Sorais declares war. The civil war is brief but bloody, with an enormous clash between the two queen’s armies. As Nyleptha’s army is triumphing Quatermain is told that assassins have been sent to kill Nyleptha. Quatermain and Umslopogaas ride hellbent, almost 100 miles in nine hours,w ith Umslopogaas running the last twenty, and they reach Nyleptha only a short time before the assassins arrive. In one of the great battles in all literature, Umslopogaas holds the stairway leading to the queen’s chambers against fifty men, killing them all but being mortally wounded in the process. Quatermain, who suffered a punctured lung during the battle between the queen’s armies, outlives Umslopogaas by only a month.

King Solomon’s Mines was not Haggard’s first novel, nor was it one which he spent a great deal of time working on. Haggard admitted to spending only six weeks writing it, and (so the possibly apocryphal story goes) only began it on a dare from one of his brothers after reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and stating that he could do better. Whether Haggard surpassed RLS in quality is debatable; it is undeniable, though, that he surpassed him in sales. Allan Quatermain was written more carefully by Haggard and was nearly as successful as King Solomon’s Mines.

These two novels, along with She (see the Ayesha entry), are Haggard’s most popular and have rarely been out of print in the decades since their initial publication. This is not just because they are good–and they are, quite good–but also because they are, in their own way, important. King Solomon’s Mines sparked the craze for Lost Race/Lost World stories, which can be definied as stories about lost, forgotten, or hidden races, cities, cultures and civilizations in hidden or remote valleys or undersea or underground areas on or beneath the Earth. Stories about unknown lands and races have been written for centuries, of course, but there was no separate, recognized genre of Lost Race/Lost World stories until Haggard wrote King Solomon’s Mines. Historical romances using Lost Race/Lost World themes and motifs written before King Solomon’s Mines were usually set in the past, but Haggard set his in the present. Haggard’s predecessors, ranging from Lady Mary Fox, with her Account of an Expedition to the Interior of New Holland (1837), to Elton R. Smilie, with his The Mantitlians; or, A Record of Recent Scientific Explorations in the Andean La Plata, S. A. (1877), lacked Haggard’s skill as a writer as well as those elements of King Solomon’s Mines which made the novel so popular. In the longer run, Haggard was very influential on the development of modern fantasy; he was read by and influential on Tolkien, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard, and scenes and motifs from Haggard can be found in each (Ignosi as the Aragorn-like hidden king, and the Diamond Mines as a proto-Moria, for example).

Haggard was equally responsible for starting a craze of novels about Africa. Before King Solomon’s Mines there was only one novel of any merit about Africa: Olive Schreiner’s Story of An African Farm (1883), a novel of domestic realism and Boer life in the African back country. Story of An African Farm was only a minor success, however, where King Solomon’s Mines was one of the best-selling novels of the century. Africa held a great deal of appeal to British readers in 1885. Earlier that year the representatives of fourteen countries, including Great Britain, met in Berlin to establish the rules for dividing and exploiting Africa. Britain was very interested in the “scramble for Africa,” and many young men of the English middle class were becoming increasingly involved in imperial affairs overseas. The English had a desire to read stories about Africa, and Haggard’s story, with its unabashed heroism and open masculinity, satisfied this desire in a way that Schreiner’s domestic drama could not. As well, Haggard’s use of a real section of Africa as the setting for King Solomon’s Mines allowed readers to consult atlases and find the blank, unexplored area where Quatermain discovered Solomon’s mines. And, finally, King Solomon’s Mines came at a time when archaeological discoveries, from Schliemann’s excavation of Troy in 1870, to Carl Mauch’s 1871 discovery of the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, to Brugsch’s opening of the Valley of the Kings in 1881, were electrifying Europe and bringing to light numerous lost and forgotten cultures.

Quatermain is no great stylist, but he and his stories have a number of virtues which make them appealing to readers, even today. Quatermain is rather charmingly modest as well as a good narrator. The tone of the text is conversational and fluid, except for the occasional long description, such as the description of the palace of Nyleptha and Sorais. The dialogue is realistic and occasionally punchy. Haggard’s knowledge of and experience in Africa leant his writings not just verisimilitude but authority; even if the readers don’t know that Haggard was an Africa hand, his treatment of Africa and the Africans is so assured that, like Kipling and India (see the  Kim entry), one tends to believe him automatically. The constant accumulation of homely African details lends weight and reliability to the narrative. Part of the verisimilitude of the novel comes from these details–specifically, the strenuous and painful exertions which Quatermain and his group undergo during their trips. Haggard drives home quite vividly the difficulties of travelling across Africa in the 19th century, the hunger, thirst, and disease which white explorers and travellers suffered from. Norman Cantor, in his Inventing the Middle Ages, makes the point that J.R.R. Tolkien was primarily responsible for the (accurate) popular image of travel in Europe, during the Middle Ages, being lengthy and arduous. Haggard is equally effective in making the point that travel in Africa was not just difficult and arduous but dangerous. Quatermain and his friends suffer horribly and nearly die several times, and their bearers perish in great numbers, killed by hostile Masai or by natural pitfalls or through the attacks of animals.

Unfortunately, even though Haggard remains popular, there are many people who only know of him and his work and have not read them, and so have stereotypes about his work. The ignorant describe it as “racist.” This is a gross oversimplification of a much more complexly-handled matter. By 21st century standards Haggard and Quatermain and the Quatermain books are all racist. Natives are bought off with trinkets and empty shell casings. Quatermain and his friends assume and presume to and are given places of privilege because they are white, even when in native kingdoms. The attitude of Quatermain and Haggard toward native Africans is paternalistic, to say the least, not least in the assumption that they know better than the natives what the natives really need. Quatermain occasionally refers to African men as “boys.” Quatermain makes comments like “for a native (he was) a very clever man.” Quatermain, like Haggard, is a believer in races having innate traits.

And yet Haggard and Quatermain are both rather progressive considering when the books were written. It is wrong-headed to judge previous generations by current standards, and even though it is not a new phenomenon it is still an odious one which prevents us from evaluating and appreciating writers on their own terms. Haggard and Quatermain are perfect examples of this. Very early in King Solomon’s Mines is this passage:

And, besides, am I a gentleman? What is a gentleman? I don't quite know, and yet I have had to do with niggers--no, I will scratch out that word "niggers," for I do not like it. I've known natives who are, and so you will say, Harry, my boy, before you have done with this tale, and I have known mean whites with lots of money and fresh out from home, too, who are not.
For a book written in 1885, that is enlightened. Both Umbopa/Ignosi and Umslopogaas are emphatically gentlemen, and Quatermain, Curtis and Good very much respect them both. This respect for them, and the friendship between them, was a large part of the reason why King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain so surprised the English public when they were published; Haggard’s attitudes were seen as quite liberal.

If one looks at King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain with a non-judgmental eye one can see other examples of Haggard and Quatermain acting in a more enlightened way than either is given credit for. Quatermain is very respectful of the Zulus, for example, equating them with the ancient Danes. Quatermain, being an old African hand, knows that not all Africans are alike, and so differentiates between tribes, discussing, for example, the Zulus in one way and the Griqua in another:

The curator of the botanical gardens gave them to me. It is looked after by an old hunter of mine named Jack, whose thigh was so badly broken by a buffalo cow in Sikukunïs country that he will never hunt again. But he can potter about and garden, being a Griqua by birth. You can never get your Zulu to take much interest in gardening. It is a peaceful art, and peaceful arts are not in his line.
This differentiation the key to understanding Quatermain’s (and by extension Haggard’s) position on race. Each tribe, or “race,” has different virtues, just as the “race” of Englishmen have virtues specific to themselves. Quatermain does not think of all Africans as the same, but rather as Kafirs (Xhosa), Zulus, Kakuanas, and so on. Quatermain sees each as having separate virtues and flaws, just as he sees the English. Quatermain is not blind to the flaws of the English; it is clear that Ignosi’s sequestering of the Kakuana from the white men, and Curtis’ “total exclusion of all foreigners from the Zu-Vendis,” are good things, for Quatermain and for Haggard, who sees those kingdoms as just fine the way they are. The influence of Christianity and England on both kingdoms, in Haggard’s eyes, would be negative, not positive–hardly the position of an uncomplicated racist. Nor does Haggard see that much difference between the English and the “savage;” in Allan Quatermain he argues most effectively that the distance between the two is much smaller than the English would like to think.

Haggard’s treatment of women is somewhat more problematical than his treatment of race. Women are not a central part of King Solomon’s Mines or Allan Quatermain; both are manly books in which women play secondary or tertiary roles. Reading She gives further insight into what Haggard may have thought of women; suffice it to say that Quatermain’s derisory comment that “At any rate, I can safely say that there is not a petticoat in the whole history” of King Solomon’s Mines gives an indication of Haggard’s preferred milieu. The women in both novels are either evil and scheming (Gagool, Sorais) or kind and soft and loving and willing to let the men lead them (Nyleptha).

Like Haggard, Quatermain is not what the unenlightened believe him to be. He is emphatically not the Great White Hunter stereotype, and while he is the father of Indiana Jones and every Lost Race explorer of the pulps, adventure fiction and the movies, he is far more unlike them than like them. He is not markedly brave or daring; he describes himself this way: “I am a timid man and dislike violence; moreover, I am almost sick of adventure.” He is not tall and muscular and athletic, nor is he young:

As I looked at him I could not help thinking what a curious contrast my little dried-up self presented to his grand face and form. Imagine to yourself a small, withered, yellow-faced man of sixty-three, with thin hands, large brown eyes, a head of grizzled hair cut short and standing up like a half-worn scrubbing brush–total weight in his clothes, nine stone six–and you will get a very fair idea of Allan Quatermain....
And he’s considerably more conscientious than many of the Quatermain imitators who followed him. Before battles Quatermain’s thoughts are not of gaining glory for himself but rather of those warriors around him who are going to die, and the relatively petty reasons they will die. Quatermain does not glory in war; he is glad to fight for a good cause, but he sees the waste to it, as well.

Nor is he particularly brave. He describes himself as a coward, and while he’s clearly no craven neither is he eager to fight. During the large battles he shoots his guns from a distance but rarely engages in hand-to-hand combat, and then only to protect his friends. When Umslopogaas holds the stair against the assassins Quatermain only watches. (Admittedly, he’s injured, but it’s in character for him to watch rather than act).

Quatermain is an experienced guide, well-respected by everyone, white and black, in the Natal. His word is trustworthy, he’s a crack shot, and he’s rather clever: “‘Macumazahn.’ That is my Kafir name, and means the man who gets up in the middle of the night, or, in vulgar English, he who keeps his eyes open.” Because he has been in Africa for so long, he knows and is known to many, most notably Umslopogaas, the boastful, deadly, eloquent, and good-humored Zulu warrior, a brother in spirit to Kim’s Hurree Chunder Mookerjee.

I could go on for quite some time about Quatermain and Haggard, as both are interesting and influential, but this entry is long enough. I’ll end with this: read both King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain. They’re classics, and you can’t call yourself well read, especially in genre fiction, until you’ve read them.

uong Lee. Quong Lee was the creation of Thomas Burke (1887-1945) Burke was a writer of some repute during his lifetime, writing more than 30 books, most of them about London. He was orphaned as a baby and spent his first nine years in Poplar, a working-class London borough near to Limestone and the Thames River docks. He was fascinated from a young age with the life of the East End streets and gained as much education from them as from formal schooling. His books reflected this fascination, concentrating on the East End of London and in particular Limehouse, where he was best friends with an elderly Chinese man who later became the model for Quong Lee. Burke's most memorable creation is the old Chinese sage Quong Lee, who originally appeared in a series of short stories as part of Burke's "Limehouse" series. These were later collected into the books The Song Book of Quong Lee of Limehouse (1920) (which is actually a book of verse, but never mind), More Limehouse Nights (1921), and The Pleasantries of Old Quong (1931).

Burke, and Lee, are wholly undeserving of their current status. Quong Lee is anything but a stereotype; he is neither Charlie Chan nor Fu Manchu, but instead a wise and somewhat-sardonic owner of a teashop who narrates stories for his friend. Lee is not completely gone to cynicism, however, for a certain idealism can be found within him. He is rarely the subject of the stories, instead acting as a narrator, telling biting stories in a learned and cynically amusing way. Burke's writing style and stories can best be described as a cross between Damon Runyon and Roald Dahl; he has more than a little of Runyon's narrative style and his stories have the anger and sardonic outlook, complete with twist ending, of Dahl.

The Song Book of Quong Lee
The e-text of the excellent collection of poems. From my own site.

uong Lung. Quong Lung was created by Dr. C.W. Doyle and appeared in a series of short stories in The Examiner and The Argonaut in 1897 and 1898 before being collected in The Shadow of Quong Lung (1900). Doyle (1852-1903) was an author and medical doctor who was born and raised in India before studying in England and practicing medicine there. He moved to San Francisco in 1888 and lived there until he died. (This makes him one of San Franciscan sf writers which Sam Moskowitz wrote about).

Quong Lung is a Yellow Peril character, one of the significant predecessors to Fu Manchu. Quong Lung is the ruler of San Francisco's Chinatown, the lord and master over the tongs and triads as well as crime in general, and commander of the dreaded See Yups tong. He rules the city from a fortified and barricaded headquarters: "for the wars of the tongs never cease, and there had been a standing reward for his life for many days. But the contending hatchetmen and high-binders agreed that Quong Lung had a charmed life, and that his enemies were short-lived." Quong's headquarters are not just fortified, they're booby-trapped; the entrance to his office is rigged so that if a thread across on the floor is broken, say by someone rushing into Quong's office to kill him, "a hundred-weight of iron" will land on the intruder. Quong's office has a trap-door in the middle of the room, and the only seat in Quong's office is wired to a battery, so that those who sit in the chair, which includes visitors and his own employees, can be electrocuted if they displease Quong.

As you can tell, Quong's a very capable and careful man. He's also cruel, stern, ruthless and without mercy. He trucks in flesh, carries out revenge without hesitation, has men killed so he can have their women, and orders small children to be kidnaped or killed as revenge for insults or betrayal. To punish one man he has the man's wife brought over from China, kidnaped off the docks, and installed in a "house of ill-fame." To punish another man he takes the man's pregnant wife as his mistress, first inducing an abortion in her. And his punishment for a third man, a traitor to the See Yups, is that the man is to be shunned as The Corpse That Walks; everyone in Chinatown ignores him or treats him like the walking undead--shunning in the old sense.

Quong's also a graduate of Yale (a Yalie, engaged in crime? What a surprise!) and a "barrister of London's Inner Temple." He's not merely evil; he's intelligent, educated, and efficient as a crimelord. Whenever he leaves his headquarters he is surrounded by "a body-guard of desperate hatchetmen sworn to his service." Quong Lung is "stout, arrogant, bespectacled" and speaks with a "refined English accent." He's also a bit short tempered; to give you an idea of what he's like, read the following, from "The Illumination of Lee Moy," when Quong has bought a young, attractive woman from a man who owes him money. Quong is questioned about the woman, Suey Yep, by a young white woman who is looking for Suey Yep:

Suey Yep is one of my chattels; never forget that fact! Any interference with my property by you, or by anyone else, would result in the sudden and irreparable depreciation in value of that property. Whatever my shadow falls on withers--and besides being a Master of Arts, I am a Master of Accidents!
The "shadow-withers" line is Quong's trademark; whenever he orders a death he says, "My shadow hath fallen on it. See to it that it withers." Quong indulges in whiskey and opium, but his primary vice is women, usually other men's women, and it is in pursuit of them that he carries out his greatest cruelties.

Quong's a peach of a guy. Unfortunately, he meets his end when he electrocutes a traitorous tong brother on an electric chair. As the police rush in, Quong accidentally falls on the still-live chair and kills himself.

The Quong Lung stories are interesting in a few respects. As I argue in my "Yellow Perils" essay (now on the required reading list for AAS 3450L at Cal-State Northridge and one of the essays in my Heroes And Monsters), Quong Lung is significant in the development of the Yellow Peril stereotype for two reasons. The first is that he was the first Yellow Peril crime lord. Previous Yellow Perils (Kiang-Ho, Yue-Laou, and Dr. Yen How) were military and political leaders. Quong Lung was the first to be portrayed as a crime lord. Quong Lung was also the first to be geographically-located. The earlier Yellow Peril characters were not associated specifically with one location in the way that Quong Lung was associated specifically with San Francisco. When Arthur Ward, a.k.a. Sax Rohmer, created Dr. Fu Manchu he incorporated these aspects of the Yellow Peril stereotype into the character of Fu Manchu.

The stories themselves are entertainingly told. Doyle was no great stylist, but while he was not capable of the pith of Thomas Burke (see the Quong Lee entry above) he was at least capable of telling an entertaining story. But he was also a racist, and quite hostile to Chinatown. In the introduction to the collection he says that "the best thing to do with Chinatown would be to burn it down; but the scheme is too Utopian to be discussed in a mere preface." Doyle's Chinese, and his Chinatown, are very stereotyped, in personality, events, and dialogue, and while it's quite easy to be entertained by Quong Lung and The Shadow of Quong Lung one is constantly reminded of the not-very-concealed bigotry of the stories.

A. Abällino to Axel
B. Hajji Baba to Amelia Butterworth
C. Cahina to Inspector John Cutting
D. The Damned Thing to Dyson
E. Robert Easterley to Pedro Arbuez d'Espila
F. Fantomas to the Fulgurator
G. "G" to Dr. Ginochio Gyves
H. Les Habits Noir to the Hypnotist
I-J. Ichor to Rob Joslyn
K. Kai Lung to Kreuzgang.
L. Lady Detectives to Arsène Lupin
M. Madame Koluchy to Dora Myrl
N. Nameless Child to Alice Nutter
O. Jack O'Halloran to Ozmar the Mystic
P. Pan to Psammead
Q. Dr. Jack Quartz to Quong Lung
R. A.J. Raffles to Lord Ruthven
S. Mr. Sabin to Count Szémioth
T-U. Adrian Temple to Undine
V. Vaila to Vril
W. Hilda Wade to Wung-Ti
Y. Yákoff to Yuki-onna
Z. Zaleski to Zoe

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