M. P. Shiel
The Lord of the Sea
London: Grant Richards, 1901
“Why are the Jews, a people who are obsessed with their own past, so afraid of other people, say ‘White’ people, being nostalgic for their own past? . . . They are fearful of being relegated to the ghetto. But do they have reason? Has anyone mentioned expelling the Jews? Or curtailing Jewish power? Not at all.”
A novel depicting the resistance of a “yeoman,” a “Saxon” against a tyrannical Jewish plutocracy; the idea of mass expulsions, even to a Zionist state; English government and politics in the hands of the ruthless Jewish financier . . . can anything redeem such a farrago of bigotry?
M. P. Shiel is one of those turn of the last century — literally, as we’ll see, of the fin de siècle — authors that, like Arthur Machen or Algernon Blackwood, was wildly popular in his time, but today survives only in the nooks and crannies of the “weird fiction” genre, often more cited than read.
Lovecraft, of course, had the opposite fate — little read in his time, self-ghettoized to the pulps by his predilection for weird writing, but today striding the literary world as a colossus of creepiness. Appropriately, Lovecraft is one of those who has kept Shiel’s name, if not his works, in print. In Lovecraft’s canon-creating survey Supernatural Horror in Literature, we read:
Matthew Phipps Shiel, author of many weird, grotesque, and adventurous novels and tales, occasionally attains a high level of horrific magic. “Xélucha” is a noxiously hideous fragment, but is excelled by Mr. Shiel’s undoubted masterpiece, “The House of Sounds,” floridly written in the “yellow ‘nineties,” and re-cast with more artistic restraint in the early twentieth century. This story, in final form, deserves a place among the foremost things of its kind. It tells of a creeping horror and menace trickling down the centuries on a sub-arctic island off the coast of Norway; where, amidst the sweep of daemon winds and the ceaseless din of hellish waves and cataracts, a vengeful dead man built a brazen tower of terror. It is vaguely like, yet infinitely unlike, Poe’s “Fall of the House of Usher.”
In the novel The Purple Cloud Mr. Shiel describes with tremendous power a curse which came out of the arctic to destroy mankind, and which for a time appears to have left but a single inhabitant on our planet. The sensations of this lone survivor as he realises his position, and roams through the corpse-littered and treasure-strewn cities of the world as their absolute master, are delivered with a skill and artistry falling little short of actual majesty. Unfortunately the second half of the book, with its conventionally romantic element, involves a distinct “letdown.”
As we’ll see, this won’t be the last time Shiel throws the reader a curve in the last part of a novel.
Anywho, Lovecraft’s fulsome praise, and the rise of the “make a mint by putting public domain texts on Kindle” culture, has ensured that Shiel’s short works, and The Purple Cloud, are easily available today, in various collections of “Lovecraft’s Favorites” or “Lovecraft’s Library.” And S. T. Joshi, of course, has put together a canonical collection of Shiel’s work.
One of those “Lovecraft’s Library” type books allowed me to read “The House of Sounds,” and it is indeed a rather creepy work. Last year The Purple Cloud made it into Penguin Classics, but I balked at paying almost $20.00 for it. When the Kindle price dropped to $5.85 I pounced on it.
Of course, there are several free editions on Kindle, but I demand a scholarly introduction and notes, the whole Penguin treatment. In fact, going right back to high school, I’ve always looked for a Penguin edition with a good, long, solid introduction that will absolve me of the tedium of actually reading some classic.
To forestall this, Penguin among others has started posting a warning: “New readers are advised that this Introduction makes details of the plot explicit.” Well, duh. I suppose this is part of the whole infantile “no spoilers” culture that treats moviegoers — perhaps legitimately — as children who will be traumatized if their “surprises” are ruined.
Plunging ahead into the Introduction, I began to find a number of fascinating things about the author. First of all, he hails from the West Indies, like my mother! And in particular, Barbados, home of that great modern Hermeticist, Neville Goddard!
With such a background, it’s no surprise Shiel became not only a prolific author, but one of the greatest “weird” writers; says editor Sutherland:
His finest achievements are his wildly imaginative works of science fiction: ‘berserk Poe’, they have been aptly called. They are typically tinged with an occultism which can be traced back to his early immersion in chiliastic Christianity and the ‘obeah’ brought to Montserrat by its African slaves.
He ‘dreamed his plots’, Shiel liked to say.
Sutherland notes that these were likely “pipe dreams”: “Shiel himself was knowledgeable about narcotics more potent than Cannabis indica.” Perhaps as a result, he made his first mark in the lucrative psychic/drug addicted detective market pioneered by Conan Doyle.
The detective novel Prince Zaleski (1895), Shiel’s first published book, appeared in John Lane’s’ Keynotes series. The book takes the form of three crime mysteries, all solved by a marijuana-sodden sleuth with a curious expertise about syphilis, spectacularly more exotic than the tweedy residents of 221B Baker Street. 
Oscar Wilde and Arthur Conan Doyle dined at the Langham Hotel with the publisher of Lippincott’s Magazine on 30 August 1889, a meeting that led to The Sign of Four and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Sutherland notes that his publisher, John Lane (and later, Grant Richard as well) even more firmly links Shiel to the “Yellow Nineties.” Through Lane, Shiel can be linked to Frederick Rolfe, self-styled Baron Corvo.
Sutherland laconically notes that “the young man from Montserrat was neither sufficiently well bred, nor sufficiently sophisticated, nor sufficiently rich, to mingle on equal terms with Wilde’s set,” but like Rolfe, Shiel had the solution: at the age of fifteen he was crowned by his father as “King Felipe of Redonda,” a rocky islet above 15 miles off Montserrat, then as now uninhabited and chiefly used by gulls as a guano depository; a fitting site for a fake title of nobility.
As late as 1929, when Gollancz re-issued The Purple Cloud, he “informed the world” in the ads that
He was the “King of Redonda” and had been for forty years. It is unclear how mischievous he was in making known this title; Harold Billings suspects it was something of a jape. His disciples, nonetheless, took their king seriously.
We’ll get back to those “disciples,” but for now, we return to Barbados.
Despite all this referential goodness, I suddenly found myself more interested in another Shiel novel. It seems that the Purple Cloud is presented to its readers as being derived from one of four notebooks containing mediumistic communications taken down in shorthand by a friend of Shiel’s and, on the former’s death, handed on to him for possible publication.
The second Browne notebook contains the text of what Shiel will later publish as The Lord of the Sea. Briefly summarized, it foresees a mass immigration of Jews into England. . . .
The newcomers, aided by their usuriously acquired wealth and banking skills, impose a Zionist dictatorship. The malign tyranny is resisted and overthrown by a staunch English squire, Richard Hogarth. After escaping, Dumas-style, from the prison where he has been wrongly consigned, so that a wicked Jewish landlord can sexually debauch his sister, Hogarth becomes the possessor of a gigantic meteoric diamond. With his now greater than even Jewish wealth, he sets up a chain of massive forts on the ocean, from where he can rule the waves. In a surprise twist [ha, no more! Spoiler, bitchez!]
Hogarth discovers that he himself is Jewish, and like George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda, sets out to establish a new Israel in the Middle East. The mind-boggling mixture of anti-Semitism and philo-Semitism is pure Shiel.
Mass immigration, but this time it’s wealthy, malevolent and all too clever Jews.
Austria during those days was a land of vengeful hearts: for the Jews had acquired half its land, and had mortgages on the other half: peasant therefore and nobleman flamed alike. And this fury was contagious: now Germany — now France had it — anti-Semite laws, like the old May laws — but harsher still; and streaming they came, from the Leopoldstadt, from Bukowina, from the Sixteen provinces, from all Galicia, from the Nicolas Colonies, from Lisbon, with wandering foot and weary breast — the Heines, Cohens, Oppenheimers — Sephardim, Ashkenazim. And Dover was the new Elim. With alarm Britain saw them come! but before she could do anything, the wave had overflowed it and by the time it was finished there was no desire to do anything; for within eight months such a tide of prosperity was floating England as had hardly been known in a country.
Before Sea Changes, before Fugue for a Darkening Island, before The Camp of the Saints, even before The Turner Diaries — here it is, the first Alt-Right novel!
Shiel’s nightmare of a Jewish takeover of England and its ancient institutions appears to fit well into the politics of the radical Right. This picture is reinforced by the futile struggle of Hogarth to lead a resistance against [his new landlord] Frankl. He is thwarted at every stage. The Jew-Liberals, under “Sir Moses Max,” win the election; and Frankl uses the power of his wealth to destroy the bank in which Hogarth keeps his meager savings. Ultimately, Hogarth is framed for a murder actually carried out by one of Frankl’s oriental minions.
It would be easy to see this as the definitive novel of English anti-Semitism, written at the flood-tide of anti-immigrant hatred. 
And yet . . .
Like The Purple Cloud, Lord of the Sea is free online, and there’s plenty of cheap used paperbacks, so you really should check it out. Unlike The Purple Cloud, Lord of the Sea is not “weird” fiction  but sort of a science fiction update of Dumas (space diamonds, floating forts powered by “liquid air,” etc.).
Also, unlike Dumas, Shiel has a political philosophy to promote. Sutherland notes:
Shiel (like Leda [in The Purple Cloud]) was a firm follower of Henry George (1839–97), whose ‘Georgism’ argued that there could be no ownership of land, which — like air — was a common good. Land should be owned by society, not individuals. Shiel introduces Georgism more prominently into The Lord of the Sea.
Here’s how a contemporary reviewer discusses it:
Mr. Shiel appears to be of the school of Dr. Wallace and Henry George, or of some other of the numerous sects of land nationalize[r]s. He is convinced that rent is robbery, and that the millennium would dawn if the rental was paid to the Governments, to be disbursed by them for the benefit of the people, instead of going into the pockets of landlords, to be used by them for the benefit of their families. This idea is not new, neither is it true, for it requires very little thinking to come to the conclusion that if the present Government, for instance, had the whole of the rent-roll of the United Kingdom to play with it would only have a larger sum to waste on wanton war and unnecessary expenditure. The very last thing it would do would be to inaugurate the millennium. Mr. Shiel or his hero appears to have persuaded himself that if land were nationalised and all rents paid to the Government, men would earn enough in one day to keep them in comfort during six; and that sin and sorrow and all the miseries of this mortal world would vanish as an evil dream before the wings of the morning. It is not necessary to argue this question. Mr. Shiel is not a political economist; he is a sensational novelist, and he has a right to choose his own standpoint. 
Although the political philosophy may be unfamiliar, and sounds downright socialist, Alt-Right readers should sense something familiar about a man who takes to the seas to hold the world hostage until it adopts his economic ideas; Ms. Rand, there’s a pirate named Ragnar to see you!
Each of these gigantic sea-castles was heavily armed and manned with trained crews of blue-jackets. When the eight were completed, the trade-routes of the world lay under the guns of Hogarth. Inside these floating fortresses everything that wealth could buy in the shape of luxury was provided, and a trip to these floating palaces was the favourite amusement of the wealthy classes throughout the world. Everything went merry as a marriage bell, until all was ready for the carrying out of Hogarth’s great design. Then suddenly, without a word of warning, he launched the famous decree, in which he proclaimed to the astonished world that he had become the Lord of the Sea, and that as landlords levied rent from all those who use the land, which had originally been given to mankind to be held in common, so he, the new Lord of the Sea, would levy rent upon all those who ventured to use the sea. No one should use the sea excepting by his leave, and every vessel plying upon the surface of the ocean must pay to him a rent of 4s. per ton for every voyage. A row of eight lay in vast irregular crescent (its convexity facing Europe) from just outside the Straits of Gibraltar, where O’Hara admiraled the Mahomet, to the 55th of latitude, where lay the Goethe on the Quebec-Glasgow route.
Europe held hostage, between Mahomet and Goethe!
As we’ve seen, the big “twist” ending is that Hogarth is himself Jewish, and when this is revealed, he (being Jewish, I guess) naturally devotes his power and wealth to establishing a homeland in Palestine for “his” people. Jenkins describes the scene:
It is in the last section of the book when the Jewish themes become most puzzling; for it is revealed that by exiling the Jews to the new Israel, Hogarth has created the world’s most advanced and noble civilization. And in so doing, he has fulfilled not only the destiny of the Jewish people, but also of himself, for he is none other than the Jewish Messiah. He marries Rebekah, the daughter of Baruch Frankl, and they form the royal dynasty of the new Israel.
The work concludes with an astonishing portrait of the new state of Israel, which is portrayed in extravagant terms reminiscent of the most utopian of the early zionist theorists. . . . Within a few years, great expanses of desert are reclaimed, mighty cities rise, and Jerusalem becomes a new London. “Tyre by the fiftieth year having grown into the biggest of ports . . . while Jerusalem had grown into the recognized school of the wealthier youth of Europe, Asia and America . . . the University of Jerusalem had become the chief nerve center of the world’s research and upward effort.”
Israel, quite literally, redeems the world and leads it into a new messianic age, the account of which draws strongly on biblical imagery and thought: “the example of Israel, his suasive charm, proved compelling as sunshine to roots, so that the heart of Spinoza [i.e., Hogarth] lived to see the spectacle of a whole world deserting the gory paths of Rome to go up into those uplands of mildness and gleefulness whither invites the smile of that lily Galilean. The mission of unbelieving Israel was to convert Christendom to Christianity; and this he did.”
I guess it is a weird tale after all — a glimpse inside the twisted mind of Glenn Beck! What accounts for this sudden pivot from Alt-Right to cuckservative? Or as Jenkins puts it:
In the context of England and, by extension, other European countries, the Jewish presence is seen as negative, and the language suggests a sinister infiltration (the “Jew-Liberal Party” and so on). Jews should be expelled or encouraged to return to a zionist state, which after all was the original solution desired by the Nazis. However, this stark message is qualified enormously by the author’s views of the inherent qualities of the Jewish people, and their enormous positive potential as the redeemers of the world. In the context of contemporary ideologies such as imperialism and evolutionary theory, the Jews are thus placed in the vanguard of civilization and human development, the role which nations like the British so often claimed for themselves.
Jenkins is correct to call attention to “the strong Biblical orientation of English culture” as the explanation. The Jew, as the Chosen People, are essentially good, indeed essentially superior; as Shiel rhapsodizes:
The transformation was rapid for the reason that it was natural, seeing that it had been Europe only that like a Circe had bewitched them into beastial [sic] shapes, ‘sharks’ and ‘bulls’ and ‘bears’, medieval Jews for example having been debarred from every pursuit save commerce, so that Shylock was obliged to turn into a Venetian, and in ceasing to be a Hebrew, became more Venetian than the Venetians, for the reason that he had more brains, ready to beat them at any game they cared to mention; but the genuine self of Shylock was a vine-dresser or sandal maker, as Hillel was a wood-chopper, David a shepherd, Amos a fig-gatherer, Saul an ass-driver, Rabbi ben-Zakkai a sail-maker, Paul a tent-maker: so that the return to simplicity and honesty was quickly accomplished.
Any flaws are the result of contact with the unclean goyim. It’s not that Jews are bad for England, but England is bad for the Jews. But:
Once Jews return to their authentic nature, the “genuine self,” their creative powers are unleashed in a torrent of scientific, medical and literary discoveries that literally transforms the world.
Even the accounting of Jewish perfidy by the malign influence of the goyim themselves is an appropriately humble, self-denigrating explanation for the Christian: it’s all our fault; forgive us, Lord, we knew not what we did!
Whether it was Europe’s fault, for “forcing” Jews to “be like that,” or the fault of the Jews themselves, or those terrible Ost-Juden, whom we civilized German Jews deplore, the idea behind Zionism was that once on their own, the Jews would create their own civilization, and it would prove better than the goyim could create.
Need one point out that, like most Christian ideas, this one hasn’t really panned out. After 80 some years, Israel remains a backward hellhole, entirely dependent on the support of the majority of Jews who have “chosen” to remain elsewhere, controlling the American Golem.
Hardly the “nerve center of the world’s research and upward effort,” although I suppose that, like their socialism, we’ll be told it “just hasn’t been tried.”
As for Hogarth’s transformation into a descendent of Spinoza, and ultimately the Messiah, is this not, if he were truthful, the secret desire of every Christian? It certainly recalls the delusions of groups like the British Israelites or Christian Identity, who have “discovered” that they are the “real” Jews.
It’s quite rich when “conservatives” sneer at the Alt-Right as a bunch of basement-dwelling gamers, when “conservatives,” along with Christians in general, have been LARPing the Jews for centuries.
But back to Shiel himself. Despite opium and prison, he “lived to a great age, and became preoccupied with racist fantasies of the Nietzschean ‘Overman’ in his later years. In the context of World War Two, it did not add to his general appeal.”
Although, as noted above, he continued to maintain his sovereignty, and even acquired a few “disciples.” His funeral was attended by thirteen such disciples — a true Männerbund!
Shiel anointed the faithful Gawsworth as his successor to the kingship of Redonda on his death. ‘King Juan I’ reverently kept Shiel’s royal ashes in a biscuit tin on his mantelpiece, dropping a pinch as condiment into the food of any particularly honoured guest. The comedian and scholar of nineteenth-century decadent literature, Barry Humphries, was, as he has told me, one such diner — unwillingly and ‘out of mere politeness’.
Dame Edna, no! Ah, those goyim. They’ll eat anything you give them, out of their cursed “politeness.”
 The Purple Cloud (London: Chatto & Windus, 1901).
 The editor of the Penguin edition, who we’ll meet in a moment, notes the use of a “rich concoction of ancient ‘Arktos’ myths and refers the reader, if not to Arktos publications, at least to Joscelyn Godwin’s Arktos: The Polar Myth (Grand Rapids: Phanes Press, 1996). The topic is briefly addressed in the title essay of my The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).
 And destroyer: “This city-burning has now become a habit with me more enchaining — and infinitely more debased — than ever was opium to the smoker, or alcohol to the drunkard. I count it among the prime necessaries of my life: it is my brandy, my bacchanal, my secret sin. I have burned Calcutta, Pekin and San Francisco.”
 The House of Sounds and Others by M. P. Shiel. Edited by S. T. Joshi. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2005). Contains nine “essential” stories (“Xélucha,” “Tulsah,” “The Pale Ape,” “Huguenin’s Wife,” “Many a Tear,” “The House of Sounds,” “The Spectre-Ship,” “The Great King,” “The Bride”) and the novel The Purple Cloud (1901 text), which are thought to be Lovecraft’s favorites.
 The Purple Cloud (Penguin Classics) by M. P. Shiel; edited and with an Introduction by John Sutherland (New York: Penguin, 2012).
 Needless to say, I was pleased to see myself on the big screen in Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan (1990), in the guise of Tom Townsend, who says that “I don’t read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelists’ ideas as well as the critics’ thinking.” Projection? Narcissism? Perhaps, but I see that Stillman himself takes his cues from Penguin: “Stillman didn’t always love Jane Austen. Actually, like Tom Townsend, the brainy Princeton freshman in “Metropolitan,” Stillman’s 1990 movie about young preppies navigating Manhattan’s débutante scene, he used to seriously dislike her. Tom’s problem is with “Mansfield Park” — “a notoriously bad book!” — though, he admits, he’s just taking Lionel Trilling’s word for it. … More years went by before he decided to give Northanger Abbey another shot. In the back of his Penguin edition was an Austen novella he hadn’t come across before: Lady Susan, which Stillman, now a full-blown Austenophile, at sixty-four, has just adapted into his latest film, Love & Friendship.
 I much prefer reading reviews to viewing movies, and I loathe nothing more than “surprises” and “twists”; I insist on knowing everything about any movie before viewing it. I suppose this is the flip side of my preference for reading the same small number of books and watching the same small number of films over and over; see “Essential Films … & Others,” here. A trait inherited apparently from my mother, who refused to watch movies, even on TV, since they were “too long.” The connection between mom and Shiel will soon reveal itself.
 If only my father had given me the same advice Shiel’s did on his taking leave of home: “Don’t be weird.”
 See my Afterword to Goddard’s Feeling is the Secret (Amazon Kindle, 2016), especially concerning Nevilles’ oft-repeated tale of how his guru, the Ethiopian rabbi Abdullah, taught him how to use the power of imagination to book an all-expenses paid first class trip back to Barbados for a family reunion.
 On imagination, of course, see Neville, passim. On the ability of my mother, a product of missionary Christianity and native traditions, to conduct astral journeys to her homeland, see Greg Johnson, “Interview with James J. O’Meara,” here and reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currrents, 2012). Neville’s guru in New York was, as noted, a black Ethiopian rabbi; on the hiding and preservation of Hermetic wisdom among Jews and other outcastes, see my Afterward, op. cit.
 See “e-Caviar for the Masses!” here. Rolfe and Shiel enjoyed the company of the under-aged, but though Corvo preferred boys, and even attempted to become a procurer, he pursued his interests in Venice, and so peacefully died of a heart attack in his hotel; but not before acquiring the well-deserved reputation of a complete con man, a sponger on an epic scale, a total ingrate; as he was dubbed — by modern day enthusiast — “Baron Corvo: The Greatest Asshole Who Ever Lived.” Shiel, however, eventually devoted his attention to the twelve-year-old daughter of his mistress, resulting in sixteen months of hard labor, aged fifty, at Wormwood Scrubs. As Sutherland quotes him, “‘I myself am wildly non-English,’ he explained, ‘I have copulated, as a matter of course, from the age of two or three with ladies of a similar age in lands where that is not considered at all extraordinary’. As Arthur Machen once observed, ‘I honestly think that “right” and “wrong” were words without meaning to him.’” On the other hand, he did “live to a great age.”
 See, of course, Ian Fleming, Dr. No. The novel makes more of a point of the Doctor’s guano-mining front business (still in Fleming’s day a valuable resource) which the movie only mentions in passing; in the end, rather than sinking into the cooling waters of the reactor core, Dr. No is buried alive in guano.
 Disciples! Yes, indeed, he had his little crowd of enthusiasts. Perhaps there’s more to that “I am a king” business than puffing oneself up. As Neville would say, you are whatever you imagine yourself to be; or what your parents imagine. “Can we ever be certain that it was not our mother who, while darning our socks who began that change in our minds?” (Prayer: The Art of Believing). Elsewhere Neville points out that his birth certificate lists his father as a “meat vendor”; his grocery store became Goddard Enterprises Ltd, which remains the largest conglomerate in the Caribbean. These Caribbean fathers seem to have a knack. Neville goes on to observe that “I have told you unnumbered times that I have no feeling towards any aristocracy in the world. Though I speak of being a descendant of Abraham, it is not after the flesh, but after the spirit; for in the state of Abraham I believed the story that was told me before that the world was. There is no physical aristocracy. Only the aristocracy of the spirit consisting of those who are called and embodied into the body of the Risen Lord.” (“Enter the Dream,” 11/21/1969, online here). This scorn for “physical aristocracy” in contrast to “the aristocracy of the spirit” could have come from Evola’s pen.
 Another Neville connection! Chapter 24 of Neville’s Your Faith is Your Fortune is devoted to a remarkable analysis of The Count of Monte Cristo as “to the mystic and clairvoyant, the biography of every man… Edmond Dantes becomes the Count of Monte Cristo. Man becomes Christ.”
 “Who are you? What is it?” whined Frankl, who was both hard master and cringing slave.” The Jew, always at your feet or at your throat.
 Jenkins, “Sticking Up for the Jews?”, loc. cit.
 Although for creepiness, at one point Hogarth winds up hiding in a huge bell — left over from “The House of Sounds,” perhaps — with a Cockney murderer who, overcome with hunger, takes a big bite out of our hero’s shoulder.
 One does chuckle at the idea of meteorites filled with diamonds, as it recalls the MST3k showing of The Giant Spider Invasion (Bill Rebane, 1976), where dim-witted Wisconsin hicks are delighted to find diamonds in the “space rocks” but fail to notice the titular giant spiders who came along for the ride.
 Op. cit.
 This is not unconnected to the land-tax plot: “And don’t you be ashamed of being a Jew, boy — they are the people who’ve got the money; and money buys land.”
 Jenkins, loc. cit.
 Indeed, the more Jews in Israel, the worse it gets: Jerusalem Post: “Will Too Many Israeli Children Lead to Demographic Disaster?” here. And note that it’s the really religious Jews that cause the most problems.
 Like Rolfe, Shiel was a great one for smoking; his protagonist in the Purple Cloud notes that as the narrator watches London burn “There I had provided myself with a jar of pale tobacco mixed with rose-leaves and opium, found in a foreign house in Seymour Street, also a genuine Saloniki hookah, together with the best wines, nuts, and so on, and a gold harp of the musician Krasinski, stamped with his name, taken from his house in Portland Street.”