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Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History: Part One

A. Michael Matin

Abstract

Shortly after the outbreak of World War One, Charles Masterman was appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to oversee a covert literary propaganda campaign in support of the British war effort. Although William Le Queux had been one of the most prominent British anti-German writers during the prewar years, he was not recruited for this governmental endeavour that included many of the nation's best-known writers. Nonetheless, he continued on his own to publish anti-German propaganda throughout the war. These two articles assess Le Queux's national security-oriented writings within that broader context, and they offer a methodology for gauging the potential efficacy of such texts based on recent developments in the field of risk-perception studies. Part One provides a historical and methodological foundation for both articles and assesses a number of Le Queux's pre-1914 works. Part Two (published in Part II of this issue) examines Le Queux's career and writings from 1914 through to his death in 1927.

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Francesco Maria Scanni and Francesco Compolongo

Abstract

The 2008 crisis and economic transformations (globalisation and financialisation) fuelled significant political phenomena, such as a deep distrust of politics, electoral volatility and the decline of bipolarity and/or bipartisanship in the face of growing outsider party affirmation. In this context, the dialectical model of the Gramscian ‘social totality’ provides an analytical tool capable of analysing those ‘transition’ phases characterised by a fracturing ‘dominant historical bloc’, in itself a precursor to an organic crisis of traditional political parties’ separation of social classes.

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“I Was Not Willing to Risk my Hajj”

Information Coping Strategies of Hajj Pilgrims

Nadia Caidi

Abstract

Information phenomena and behaviors underlie every aspect of contemporary life, including spiritual/religious experiences. Pilgrimage as an information context provides insights into the nature of information and knowledge in the lives of individuals undergoing such transformational experiences. Findings based on interviews with twelve Hajj pilgrims suggest that their information practices are varied and transcend both individual (cognitive, affective) and social processes (through shared imaginaries and a wide network of people and resources). As pilgrims prepare for and complete the rituals, then return home, they make use of a range of coping strategies from triangulation and validation to information avoidance. Examining the information strategies of Hajj pilgrims provide us with insights into their processes of negotiating meaning in shifting and unknown contexts.

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Matthew C. Eshleman

Abstract

This article surveys most of the recent reviews of Sarah Richmond's excellent new translation of L'Être et le néant. It offers some close textual comparisons between Richmond's translation, Hazel Barnes’ translation, and the Checklist of Errors of Hazel Barnes’ Translation of L'Être et le néant. This article concludes that Richmond delivers a higher semantic resolution translation that overcomes nearly all the liabilities found in Barnes and does so without sacrificing much by way of readability.

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The International Circulation and Impact of Invasion Fiction

Case Study of William Le Queux's The Invasion of 1910 – ‘Not an ordinary “pot-boiler”’

Ailise Bulfin

Abstract

A key text of the pre-First World War invasion fiction genre, William Le Queux's The Invasion of 1910 (1906) is often assumed to have sold in vast quantities and provoked major controversy. This article investigates the circulation and social impact of this divisive, polemical work before and during the war to provide a more accurate account of its reception. Using Marie Corelli's proven bestseller The Sorrows of Satan (1895) as a comparator, the article shows sales of The Invasion of 1910 were similar to other bestselling novels, though not comparable to Corelli's phenomenal sales. Le Queux's text, however, punched above the weight of the typical bestseller in terms of its social influence, receiving parliamentary censure, extensive newspaper coverage, wide satire and polarised reader responses. Overall, this analysis provides insight into the workings of the popular fiction industry and the nature and extent of invasion fears in the early twentieth century.

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Introduction

Knowledge, Ignorance, and Pilgrimage

Evgenia Mesaritou, Simon Coleman, and John Eade

Abstract

This special issue on “Knowledge, Ignorance, and Pilgrimage” highlights processes of production of knowledge and ignorance that unfold within as well as beyond pilgrimage sites. We illustrate the labor, politics, and power relations involved in the construction of sacred centers, but also the ways in which the field of study must be extended to other places where pilgrims learn to practice their religion, and live their everyday lives.

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Introduction

‘William Le Queux, Master of Misinformation’

Ailise Bulfin and Harry Wood

Abstract

The Introduction prefaces a double special issue of Critical Survey examining the work of controversial popular author, journalist and amateur spy William Le Queux from 1880 to 1920. Known as the ‘master of mystery’, Le Queux was prominent in transmitting exaggerated fears about British national security before, during and after the First World War. The Introduction provides a historical and literary framework for the special issue and outlines its central premises: that cultural production in Le Queux's era was intimately connected with contemporary socio-political forces; that this relationship was well understood by authors such as Le Queux, and often exploited for propagandist purposes; and that the resulting literary efforts were sometimes successful in influencing public opinion. The Introduction also outlines the overall finding that Le Queux's work tended to distort his subject matter, misinform his readership, and blur the lines between fact and fiction in pursuit of his defencist agenda.

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Jackie Feldman

Abstract

Two themes that surface in the articles in this collection are: Visual knowledge and the means of acquiring it—the ability of pilgrims to see and read signs while overlooking or avoiding other sources of knowledge that are visible or readily available; and the issue of authority: who propagates and gains from the teaching, images, and practices of pilgrimage?

The articles demonstrate that distance from pilgrimage sites and ignorance of local knowledge is important in intensifying pilgrims’ experience and maintaining the power of traditional authorities. While some shrines readily adopt new technologies to diffuse their messages, activities and images, pilgrimages continue to rely on embodiment and sociality to solidify communities and commitments. The variety of engagements of pilgrimages with changing media and emerging historical realities testifies to the viability of the forms and practices of pilgrimage in transmitting other kinds of knowledge.

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Materiality as an Agency of Knowledge

Competing Forms of Knowledge in Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias

Nimrod Luz

Abstract

Materiality has become a compelling register through which to examine religious manifestations and matters of belief. There is a mounting awareness among scholars of both the tangible aspects of religion and the ways in which material objects are never neutral. Following these theoretical developments, I argue that materiality can serve as a form of agency for a particular version of knowledge to become conventional and accepted as true. This emerging materiality codifies a certain version of the truth. However, such validation through matter is often challenged and categorized as fake or a myth. To illustrate my argument, I explore the newly emerging site of Rachel's Tomb in Tiberias and the competing versions of truth surrounding it. I contend that its new materiality, which has evolved in recent years, serves as a way of validating the site's new mythology. However, among locals, who are familiar with the site's previous materiality, this new knowledge is pejoratively labeled as fake or mythical.

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The Mysterious Mr Le Queux

War Novelist, Defence Publicist and Counterspy

Roger T. Stearn

Abstract

This article presents what is widely considered to be the best biographical account of the life of the controversial popular author, journalist and amateur spy, William Le Queux. The article originally appeared in Soldiers of the Queen, the journal of the Victorian Military Society, and is reproduced here with their kind permission in order to bring it before a new audience. It documents Le Queux's life, from the little that is known about his early career through to his high-profile involvement in defence scaremongering before and during the First World War to his subsequent lapse into postwar obscurity.