Mr. Moto: Improbable International Man of Mystery

in Journal of American-East Asian Relations
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Mr. Moto, a fictional Japanese detective, achieved mass popularity through a series of 1930s films starring Peter Lorre. Moto was the creation of successful writer John P. Marquand (1893–1960), whose novels depicted a Japanese international spy quite different from the genial Mr. Moto of film. Revisiting the original Mr. Moto novels illuminates a Japanese character who rationalized Japan’s 1930s continental expansionism in ways that might have been acceptable to many Americans. Although Marquand intended to present Mr. Moto as a “moderate” and reasonable Japanese agent and generally present East Asians in a positive light, it is difficult to see the novels as doing anything more than buttressing prevailing racial and ethnic stereotypes.

Mr. Moto: Improbable International Man of Mystery

in Journal of American-East Asian Relations

References

2

David MuraSong for Uncle Tom Tonto and Mr. Moto: Essays and Interviews on the Relationship of Color and the Literary Canon (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press2002); Jessica Hagedorn (ed.) Charlie Chan is Dead: An Anthology of Asian American Fiction (New York: Penguin 1993); Helen Zia Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an Asian American People (New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux 2001).

8

BirminghamThe Late John Marquand pp. 99–100.

9

MarquandNo Hero p. 9.

11

MarquandThink Fast Mr. Moto p. 264.

13

John P. Marquand“These Are People Like Ourselves,” Asia (July 1941): 361–64.

14

MarquandThank You Mr. Moto p. 135.

15

Ibid. p. 149.

16

Ibid. p. 167.

17

Ibid. pp. 130–31.

18

Ibid. pp. 172–73.

19

John W. DowerWar Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (New York: Knopf1986) 344–45.

20

MarquandThank You Mr. Moto pp. 189–90.

23

Takashi Fujitani“The Reischauer Memo: Mr. Moto, Hirohito, and Japanese American Soldiers,” Critical Asian Studies 33 no. 3 (September 2001): 379–402.

24

 Quoted in ibid. p. 383.

25

Theodore Strauss“GOODBYE MR MOTO: John P. Marquand Sends an Old Friend Back to His ‘Honorable’ Ancestors,” New York Times14 December 1941 p. X7.

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