KOWA THE MYSTERIOUS ... Translated from the French by William Frederick Harvey. London: Everett & Co., 1909. Octavo, pp. [i-v] vi [7-9] 10-320, original decorated olive green cloth, front and spine panels stamped in black and gold, publisher's monogram stamped in blind on rear panel, bottom edge untrimmed. First edition in English. A translation of KOWA, LA MYSTERIEUSE, a frequently reprinted novel by this prolific French writer. Wild, racist, melodramatic mystery novel with yellow peril theme. Jacques Bermond, a young Frenchman traveling to America to seek his fortune, befriends Tao, a humble Chinese merchant whose suspicious behavior incurs the wrath of fellow traveler Carl Stone, a multimillionaire and the most powerful man in the State of Kofa (California). Tao loses face and vows revenge -- "accursed man of the sea, for the blow you dared not give me, you shall receive a knife-thrust in your heart." Shortly after his arrival in Kowa (San Francisco), the capital city of Kofa, Jacques is hired by Stone and his first task is to find one of Stone's plant managers who has gone missing in Chinatown. The invasion of Kowa by the Chinese is "an epidemic ... The Celestial Empire disgorges on us all the rabble, and they plunder, rob and murder us every day. Our town has become more and more dangerous by night, and even by day. We no longer attempt to reckon the number of thefts, assaults, and murders that take place in Kowa. The police themselves don't even know how many men, women, and children have disappeared and left no trace behind them. The mystery in which all this is shrouded adds every day to our terror and forebodings." With the help of the crafty Tao, Stone's manager is found, but he has been drugged and has no memory of what happened to him. Shortly thereafter, Stone's wife, Evelyn, mysteriously disappears. The police are baffled. Evelyn's companion, Janine Flory, solves the mystery and sets out alone to find Evelyn but, while following her trail, vanishes as well. Both women have been kidnapped by the Chinese and taken to a secret city, "Kowa, the Mysterious," built in a vast cavern under San Francisco where the Orientals, who have enslaved thousands of Whites, plot to take over the country. Jacques must now work again with Tao (who is a powerful Mandarin, not a poor Chinese merchant) to rescue the women in return for Jacques' vow to not reveal the existence of the underground city. Much of the novel is set in the barbaric, claustrophobic and menacing Kowa, the "City of Darkness." When all seems lost and Jacques, Janine and Evelyn are fated to die in the bowels of the earth, an earthquake collapses the cavern and destroys the subterranean city and its teeming millions (the true cause of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire). Considerable anti-Chinese sentiment throughout the novel. Clareson, Science Fiction in America, 1870s-1930s 302. Locke, A Spectrum of Fantasy, p. 85. Bleiler (1978), p. 74 (coding "lost race"). Reginald 05499. Not in Hubin (1994). Not in Baird and Greenwood. Cloth rubbed at edges, several mild stains to front and rear panels, generally, a very good copy. (#148913).

Price: $550.00

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