Sax Rohmer's The Orchard of Tears

From the collection 
                              of R. E. Briney

From the collection 
                            of Lawrence Knapp

Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1921,
"Methuen's Cheap Novels" edition

Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1927,
Jacket design: Frank Marston

 

First Edition. London: Methuen, October 24, 1918. (Crown, 8vo.)   250pp.   6/-
Second Edition. July 1921. (F'cap 8vo.)   250 pp. [plates reset]   2/-
    #388 in "Methuen's Cheap Novels" series
Third Edition. February 1922. (F'cap 8vo.)   Light brown binding.
Fourth Edition. May 1924. (Crown 8vo. Cheap Form)   2/6
    "Methuen's Half-Crown Novels" series
Fifth Edition. March 1925. (Crown 8vo. Cheap Form)   Green binding.   2/6
Sixth Edition. 1927. (Crown 8vo. Cheap Form) Red cloth. 2/6
Seventh Edition. 1936. (Crown 8vo.) Red cloth. 2/6 

New York: Bookfinger, [1970].  (8vo.)
    Facsimile of 1918 Methuen First Edition, bound in black cloth with gold printing
    on the spine.   The edition was limited to 1000 copies.   Although the book is
    dated 1969, it was not placed in distribution until the following year.


All Methuen editions are 250 pages long, but the two Foolscap octavo printings were from reset plates.   The Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth editions all had the same dust jacket design by Frank Marston.


Many people who read The Orchard of Tears find it an "odd" book in the context of Sax Rohmer's other work. There are no oriental villains or exotic locations; rather, there are gentle rabbits and lambs in pastoral settings and a great deal of philosophical musing. As much as he enjoyed Fu Manchu -- and the notoriety and income the character provided -- Rohmer had other interests and a markedly serious side.   The departure from his expected subject matter is plainly signalled by the book's dedication:

To
the slaves of the pomegranate,
sons of Adam and daughters of Eve,
who drink at the fountain of life,
this chalice is offered as
a loving-cup.

The Orchard of Tears is Rohmer's  most restrained and serious novel. It was written because the author wanted to write it, and his recent success afforded him the opportunity to do so.  A clue to the intent is to be found when the protagonist, Paul Mario, asks: "You mean that literature and art persistently look in the gutter for subjects when they would be more worthily employed in questioning the stars?" (60)

In Master of Villainy, Cay Van Ash and Mrs. Rohmer tell us, "Readers who are anxious to know the kind of thing which the 'master of villainy' was most honestly pleased to write should get hold of this book" (110).
 


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Copyright 1998 Lawrence Knapp. All rights reserved.