Talk:M. P. Shiel

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Cite your Material[edit]

There's been some great stuff added to the article over the past year, but please -- Wikipedia member or not -- remember to cite your material.--Junius49 (talk) 23:29, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

I have beefed up the citations, as requested, but am not sure what to do with your so called weasel word comment about the Shiel-Gawsworth collaborations. Objectively, they are "rather poor stuff," not up to Shiel's normal standards. Steve Eng's essay (cited in the main article) is the only extended treatment of them, besides brief comments by Morse at pp 301-304 of The Works of M. P. Shiel: the Shielography Updated, Vol II (1980.) --Johnsquires (talk) 23:08, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for adding citations. The article's looking good. I just changed "rather poor stuff" (which may read as an aesthetic judgment -- albeit justified) to "largely unsuccessful" (which, I suppose, is ambiguous enough to include the lack of commercial, artistic, and historical success).--Junius49 (talk) 20:49, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Parentage[edit]

Although the previous description of Shiel's mixed race background was accurate -- cited from Billings -- I've revised the section to update Billings's antiquated language (like mulatto and the vague use of "mixed race" for slaves of African descent). I've relied on and cited the Shiel family genealogy page, which has recently been published. --Junius49 (talk) 15:27, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Who decided to redirect 'The Purple Cloud' to this page?[edit]

I remember a page dedicated to his book 'The Purple Cloud' being available. Why would someone delete that page and redirect it to here, as there is quite a substantial amount of information and synopsis that has seemingly been discarded, especially regarding the information about its serial publication and detailed description. Pedantic and over enthusiastic full-time Wiki "editors" strike again? 195.92.168.164 03:46, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

I've tried to find the old Purple Cloud page, but I can't. I've restarted The Purple Cloud as a stub. Very poor editing on someone's part. --Junius49 (talk) 15:52, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

Any Truth to This?[edit]

Granted, I found this on the (ahem) IMDB message board for "The World, The Flesh and The Devil", but I wonder if there is any truth to it? I just did not see anything remotely like this in the article but do not feel that I have the knowledge to add it based on the source...

"by Swift-12 (Thu Sep 8 2005 14:03:39)

Sam Moskowitz said this about M. P. Shiel who wrote the 1901 novel "The Purple Cloud" from which this 1959 end-of-the-world drama was adapted -- "It is indeed ironical that a man (flawed but occasionally brilliant) who was an anti-Oriental, ardent believer in Aryan superiority, and a war lover is to be posthumously ennobled as an apostle of peace and racial tolerance every time The World, the Flesh and the Devil is shown, as it will be for many years to come."

This quote appears in David Kyle's great book, "Pictorial History of Science Fiction" (pp 37, 38). Kyle went on to say, "When Matthew Phipps Shiel, the strange, often brilliant man, died after still writing sf in his old age, he left behind a strange, often brilliant body of works. One would be tempted to feel that if you ignored his incredibly intolerant comments they would somehow go away."

Needless to say when they adapted a film from his book 58 years later, extensive reworking was done. The last "good" man is now black instead of white; the last "bad" man is white; a white woman is caught between them.

Shiel's intolerance was all over the map. Another 1901 novel, "The Lord of the Sea", was a "complicated plot about floating fortresses controlling the seas. It was violently anti-Semitic, yet paradoxically it had a Jew for the hero and a Jewess for the heroine, and ended up with the establishment of a Jewish homeland very much like Israel."

Saudade7 09:21, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Moskowitz's negative opinions of Shiel were given in a series of essays, collected in several of his books. His opinions have been disputed by a number of scholars, including Ben Indick in his essay in Shiel in Diverse Hands, Brian Stableford also in Shiel in Diverse Hands, Scientific Romance in Britain 1890-1950, etc., R. D. Mullen in several issues of Science Fiction Studies, and others. Citations to Moskowitz, Mullen, et al are included in "Rediscovering M. P. Shiel (1865-1947)", available on line at http://www.alangullette.com/lit/shiel/essays/RediscoveringMPShiel.htm

Shiel was hardly an "ardent believer in Aryan superiority" though he wrote of "overmen," a term later associated with the Nazis. Shiel's overman were not the result of racial superiority, but of scientific education. With the right education anyone, of any race, could be one.

Contrary to Moskowitz, in The Yellow Wave, a novel about the 1904-5 Russo-Japanese War, Shiel is generally sympathetic to Japan, which he portrays as forward looking and socialistic, ready to lead first Asia, and, by example, the world into the new age of Man. Indeed, Shiel even portrays the yellow races as the key to the next stage of human evolution. “...it is so easy to see that China alone is half the world. Man lives in Asia and Africa, and the white races are there to modify Man; but they are not Man. They are the bitters in gin-and-bitters: the gin and the water’s the thing....We fair types are a temporary accident, only human by courtesy. So I look forward three hundred years to one universal race, highly evolved, of a flushed brown as clear as the ruby, with melting almond eyes, and a thick little coral mouth, with little pearls for teeth.” (p 250) The Yellow Wave is a rare book, but can be downloaded as a pdf file from Google Books. Harold Billings also quotes from this passage in endnote 50 at page 185 of volume one of his excellent Shiel biography.

--Johnsquires (talk) 06:10, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

4th Notebook?[edit]

He said The Last Miracle,The Lord of the Sea and The Purple Cloud were each one notebook out of FOUR notebooks-he didnt specify the fourth,anyone know what became of that?

New Babylon 2 (talk) 09:04, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

No published novel has been associated with the 4th notebook referred to in the Introductions to the other three, nor did Shiel mention it in any of his known letters located at the Humanities Research Center, U of Texas. However, Kirsten MacLeod has recently uncovered in the NYPL another as yet unpublished Shiel letter which may offer a clue to the mysterious 4th notebook. For now though her latest discovery remains original research.

--Johnsquires (talk) 06:09, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Critique, Prose Jazz, etc[edit]

I deleted the following material because it's soapy and reads like original research (with a Jan 2008 citation request). However, I do remember reading somewhere a claim similiar to the last part about Shiel's prose. If anyone can find that citation, we can recuperate some of the following: "At least one modern critic has dismissed its first 30-odd pages as hammy and unimpressive, but Jeffson's return from the Pole and existence in an empty world are astonishing—partly for the convincing portrait of his growing eccentricity but above all for some of the most hypnotic and original rhythms in English prose: Shiel's writing here has been justly compared to jazz in its free-flowing persuasiveness." --Junius49 (talk) 22:32, 22 May 2009 (UTC)

This phrase was a holdover from one of the earliest drafts of this entry. It was Sam Moskowitz who compared Shiel's prose style to jazz.

--Johnsquires (talk) 06:33, 23 May 2009 (UTC)


Dwindling of his literary output[edit]

I deleted the following material because it reads like original research (eg speculation). Kirsten MacLeod makes no such direct claim in her essay, which is cited as the sole authority for this statement. To the contrary, at page 372 she outlines Shiel’s financial collapse following the complete commercial failure of The Dragon in 1913. In this MacLeod provides additional evidence supporting the inference from a Shiel letter to Grant Richards dated 24 Oct 1913 which outlined the decline of his income from his books over the prior decade. (Works of M. P. Shiel: the Shielography Updated, Vol II, p 188.) Particularly in light of the otherwise inexplicable statement in the final chapter of The Dragon that, as to novels “you get not one out of me for ten years” it would be fairer to say that Shiel had failed as a commercial writer by 1913, well before the criminal offence charged in Fall of 1914. "Recent scholarly speculation suggests a criminal conviction may have caused the sudden dwindling of his literary output in 1914.[1]"

--Johnsquires (talk) 04:58, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

Good catch, John! --Junius49 (talk) 20:43, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

The Redonda Mess[edit]

I deleted the reference to Shiel being the "second" king of Redonda, since Shiel made no such claim in the few paragraphs he actually wrote on the topic. The whole Redonda Legend is difficult to verify. Most of the details in the numerous press accounts written after his death probably originated with Gawsworth, or his rival successors, rather than Shiel. (See generally the bibliography now cited in the main article.) I decline, however, to try to correct the main Redonda article. There are too many proponents of the various rival kings likely to jump in and "correct" rational attempts to untangle the mess. It remains at its core, with Gawsworth's literary aristocracy (Shiel never granted any titles himself), a very pleasant fantasy. --Johnsquires (talk) 00:27, 9 July 2009 (UTC)