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The Strength of the Strong

Jack London (1910) The Unparalleled Invasion


Under the influence of Japan, China modernizes and undergoes its own version of the MeijiReforms in the 1910s. In 1922, China breaks away from Japan and fights a brief war thatculminates in the Chinese annexation of the Japanese possessions of Korea, Formosa, andManchuria. Over the next half century, China’s population steadily grows, and eventuallymigration overwhelms European colonies in Asia. The United States and the other Westernpowers launch a biological warfare campaign against China, resulting in the destruction of China’s population, the few survivors of the plague being killed out of hand by European andAmerican troops. China is then colonized by the Western powers. This opens the way to ajoyous epoch of “splendid mechanical, intellectual, and art output”. [Wikipedia]For a view on the historical background of the “Yellow Peril” see G.G. Rupert.

Essays on London:This essay examines Jack London’s 1910 short story “The Unparalleled Invasion” as a fantasyof racist nationalism (borrowing from his earlier “Yellow Peril” report from the Russo-JapaneseWar). London, like other American progressives of the early 20th century, looked to theemerging science of genetics and its implications for eugenicist technologies, finding both afrightening futuristic vision of race war fought by reproduction and a modestly consoling“scientific” defense of white supremacy....... In 1910, McClure’s Magazine published JackLondon’s “The Unparalleled Invasion,” a strange little fantasy apparently written in 1907which he himself described bemusedly in his correspondence as “a freak short story, ” one ofseveral “future stunts” that he was working out, and “an interesting pseudo-scientific yarn.” Set mainly in 1976, but framed as retrospective history written from some still later date, itdescribes the West’s late-twentieth-century recognition of China ‘s enormous population andpotential for world domination, and its drastic resolution to this crisis: an “unparalleledinvasion” of biological weaponry. resulting in the Chinese people’s completeannihilation. [John N. Swift (2002) ‘Jack London’s “The Unparalleled Invasion”: Germ Warfare,Eugenics, and Cultural Hygiene’, American Literary Realism, Vol. 35, No. 1 (Fall, 2002), pp.59-7]


For eighty years, since its publication in 1910, Jack London’s “The Unparalleled Invasion” hasbeen regarded as an expression of his anti-Oriental racism. Calder-Marshall’s estimate of it,that it “was a variation of the theme of ‘the Yellow Peril,’ a common nightmare of the firstdecade of this century,” appears to be generally accepted. While this view may be justifiedby reference to London’s previous racist attitudes, it does not take into sufficient account thedeep and dramatic changes in his perspectives that occurred almost abruptly during the lastdecade of his life, when he wrote this story. Our view of him is still distorted by the popularstereotype we have of him as the he-man writer of the Yukon. Recent scholarship, however,now recognizes that London continued to grow both in literary skill and in philosophy until hisdeath. This new information makes possible a parallax correction of our view of “TheUnparalleled Invasion” so that we may see it as a story more concerned with humanity thanwith fears of “the Yellow Peril” or with notions of white supremacy.[Lawrence I. Berkove(1992) ‘A Parallax Correction in London’s “The Unparalleled Invasion” ‘, American LiteraryRealism, 1870-1910, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter, 1992), pp. 33-39]There is discussion of London’s views on the “Yellow Peril” at asian-studies.org.

London, J. (1910) The Unparalleled Invasion| 2A view of Chinese translations of London’s work is at:https://www.academia.edu/3892236/Jack_London_Anti-Chinese_Racism_and_Chinese_TranslationThe translation history of Jack London into Chinese illustrates how translation publishingobscures and conceals even while opening literary exchange between languagecultures. This paper begins with a discussion of London’s short story “The UnparalleledInvasion” in order to frame questions of how Chinese-language introductionscommunicate knowledge about London’s anti-Chinese attitudes to readers. A followingsection surveys 104 known Chinese-language translation editions of London publishedfrom 1935-2011 and reviews their ideological approaches to London before and after the Cultural Revolution. Conceptual mapping finds negligible consideration of London’sracial attitudes. The next section reviews Chinese-language critical literature on Londonin order to compare its discussion with that found in translation introductions. Thiscritical literature contains ample discussion of London’s white supremacism. A finalsection addresses how structural censorships of ideology and publishing market forcesshape the discursive discrepancy between translation editions and critical literature


Posted by Conspiracy Cafe on February 23, 2020 at 6:27 PM 103 Views