The Yellow Face
Racism: The late Peter Wood, a previous discussion leader in my Sherlock Holmes group, asked if this story, taken together with the derogatory depiction of the black boxer Steve Dixie in “The Three Gables,” indicated that Conan Doyle was a racist. A strange way to put it, because this story is typically contrasted with “The Three Gables” as one that is quite liberal on matters of race. But how then do we square this circle of the liberal Doyle in “The Yellow Face” and the indulger of stereotypes in the later story? Perhaps it is simply a matter of time: in this story and the next (“The Stockbroker’s Clerk”) a young author subverts conventional racist (or in the Stockbroker story, anti-Semitic) attitudes, whereas at the end of his career a more curmudgeonly author indulged in them.
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