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‘At the Mercy of the German Eagle’

Images of London in Dissolution in the Novels of William Le Queux

Antony Taylor

In the years before 1914 the novels of William Le Queux provided a catalyst for British debates about the economic, military and political failures of the empire and featured plots that embodied fears about new national and imperial rivals. For Le Queux, the capture of London was integral to German military occupation. Representative of the nation’s will to resist, or its inability to withstand attack, the vitality of London was always at issue in his novels. Drawing on contemporary fears about the capital and its decay, this article considers the moral panics about London and Londoners and their relationship to Britain’s martial decline reflected in his stories. Engaging with images of anarchist and foreign terrorism, and drawing on fears of covert espionage rings operating in government circles, this article probes the ways in which Le Queux’s fiction expressed concerns about London as a degenerate metropolis in the process of social and moral collapse.

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Book Reviews

On 20th Century Revolutionary Socialism, from Poland to Peru and beyond

Jean-Numa Ducange, Camila Vergara, Talat Ahmed and Christian Høgsbjerg

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg. Volume III. Political Writings, 1: On Revolution 1893–1905, by Peter Hudis, Axel Fair-Schulz and William A. Pelz (eds). London: Verso, 2019. 592 pp.

In the Red Corner: The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui by Mike Gonzalez. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2019. 231 pp.

Indigenous Vanguards: Education, National Liberation and the Limits of Modernism, by Ben Conisbee Baer. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 384 pp.

Here to Stay – Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology, by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock (eds). London: Pluto Press, 2019. 304 pp.

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

This paper seeks to address the problem of strangeness within the context of migration in Africa. I draw on historical realities that inform existing international and African discourses on migration. I hope to show that most African countries have unconsciously bought into international arguments that drive the legitimacy of building walls, visible and invisible, and the promotion of stringent migration policies that minimise the influx of African immigrants. I draw on political and philosophical positions of African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, among others, in my theorisation of strangeness and the need to dispel the potential negative conception of strangeness within Africa’s migration policies. I juxtapose these positions with Western political theories with the hope of emphasizing African humanism as a key conception worth considering when decolonising borders.

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Gauging the Propagandist’s Talents

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

A. Michael Matin

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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Gauging the Propagandist’s Talents

William Le Queux’s Dubious Place in Literary History: Part Two

A. Michael Matin

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 (published in Part I of this issue) provides a historical and methodological foundation for both articles and assesses a number of Le Queux’s pre-1914 works. Part Two 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

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

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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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

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

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

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.