Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Another appearance of Dr. Mabuse

Dr. Mabuse, as you may recall from this earlier post, writes a manifesto of evil that compels acolytes to bring down society through chaos and confusion. To contemporaries — including Josef Goebbels, who initially banned it — the second Mabuse film, “The Testament of Dr. Mabuse,” presented an allegory for Hitler, who wrote “Das Kampf” and then inspired others to implement it.

In Europe, the legend of Dr. Mabuse continues to grow. And why not? They experienced his “testament” of World War II in a way we did not. Many people have taken the Mabuse mythology and twisted and interpreted it for their own reasons, and again, I say why not. If Supergirl can go through so many iterations, then Goebbels is free to shoot new framing sequences that insist that Fritz Lang’s film blames society’s ills on the Weimar Republic and that herald Hitler as the cure.

Some of this was on my mind last night in a conversation with a friend who, surprisingly to me given his proclivity for the provocative and obscure, hasn’t seen these Lang films. Today, he emailed with another coincidental and bizarre Mabuse appearance (and before I quote him I should note that during this conversation I connected Lang, and Mabuse, and World War II, with a lengthy discourse on Samuel Beckett hiding from the Nazis durings World War II):

Curiouser and curiouser. Last night after we spoke I opened a box of books I had ordered. There was a novel titled “Red” by Richard James. It involves “the curious machinations of Dr. Mabuse” and thanks Grove Press for permission to quote from Samuel Beckett’s play, “Krapp’s Last Tape.” Does any of that sound familiar??? Beyond coincidence? (Play “Twilight Zone” theme here.)
I bought it from edwardrhamilton.com. The original price was $14.95 but they have it as a remainder for $3.95. The stock number is 6050662, in case you want to check it on ERH’s search engine. It was published by gaymenspress.co.uk, if you would like to check there for more info. I imagine it will have a bunch of gay men somewhere in it.

I checked out “Red” by Richard James on Amazon.com, and yes, there seems to be a connection to my new master, who orchestrates all our doings behind the scenes. My heart goes out a bit to Richard James; not only does the novel not seem to have sold well, but it appears that he’s taken to reviewing it himself on Amazon, and under his own name, as this link reveals. If you can write a clever book involving a mastermind plotting to take down society, certainly you’re clever enough to set up a psuedonym to review your own books, no?

I suppose I should be unsurprised that someone who would want to touch on Dr. Mabuse would also gravitate toward Beckett. I think the big surprise is that Grove Press permitted the quote (perhaps these things are easier now that Beckett is in the ground). One can’t tell from either site, Amazon or Hamilton, that the book is published by “Gay Men’s Press” (Hamilton says “GMP”), but when you click the latter site for “related reading,” you get titles like “Fag Hag,” “Father’s Day,” and “The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket,” so it seems a safe bet that the book relates not only to society’s “irreversible decline,” but also to the man (and men) behind it.

4 Responses to “Another appearance of Dr. Mabuse”

  1. Rich Roesberg Says:

    The ‘review’ that Richard James posted on Amazon is just an excerpt from the back cover copy on the book. It goes on to compare “Red” favorably with Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando” and Thomas Mann’s “Death in Venice”, along with ‘the sprawling epics of Michael Moorcock’. Of course, James may have written that copy. It’s all so Mabusian.

    As to those movies I haven’t seen, I’m working on it. Our local Hollywood video doesn’t have them. I do, however, own a copy of Orson Welles’ version of Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, and have watched the entire beginning of it.

  2. Rich Roesberg Says:

    Have finished reading “Red”. It’s engaging, but only in a where-is-this-all-going way. The story wanders around in time. The main character appears to have made a deal with the devil, and to lure others into doing the same. Everybody drinks lots of wine. It finishes with three different endings. And the Dr. Mabuse theme isn’t explored.

    It was enjoyable as a curiousity but didn’t work well as either literature or entertainment. Now I want to read the new Hannibal Lecter novel.

  3. Lee Wochner Says:

    From everything I’ve heard, you actually DON’T want to read the new Hannibal Lecter novel.

    And I can’t recommend the “new” Philip K. Dick novel either (more on that soon).

  4. leewochner.com » Blog Archive » Wonderful strange films I plan to see, and those I have to miss Says:

    […] the appearance, of sorts, of our friend Dr. Mabuse, who as the uber-Cheney is at the secret center of all machinations. This film, sadly, appears not […]

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