The Eunuch of Stamboul

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Stevie P
Posts: 194
Joined: Wed 14 Sep, 2005 08:31:56
Location: Rugby

The Eunuch of Stamboul

Post by Stevie P »

When I returned to my sequence date reading of Dennis Wheatley's Novels (following a brief 'forward switch' of 13 years to evaluate the Haunting of Toby Jugg, to coincide with the BBC4 production) I felt like HG Wells in his Time machine when I returned to the pre war names of;

Swithin Destime
Boo Boo Skelton
Hado Claydon Ffinch
Harriet Helm
Conkey Malvern

Were this really typical names during the mid thirties??

The title of 'The Eunuch of Stamboul' had me wide eyed with imagination of the story to follow. Tales of the Mystic East joined together with the mysteries and history of the Ottoman empire.
I have to say I was a little disappointed with the outcome as I felt it took half the book to even start to get going and not until the end did it all start building towards the normal crescendo.
In fact in parts I was thinking of a similar point that I made regarding 'The Fabulous Valley' i.e. The Eunuch Of Stamboul was a little bit like a travel guide.

Dennis Wheatley in his memoirs mentions that it was turned into a film.
I've never seen it but I'd love to know if anyone has seen it (and what they think of it) as it has the potential to be made into something quite spectacular with someone like Matt Damon carrying out a Jason Bourne style Swithin Destime .

The story revolves around an international incident forcing Swithin to resign from the Army (very unfairly). He is recruited into a spying activity in Turkey to discover if there is any truth in the rumours of subversive plots going on against the Turkish government (now firmly established under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk) with a view to initiating a Jehad.

Just a few points to pick up on;

Page 120 and 135 - Two references in this book alone to 'spanking' women. This has occurred before in DW books I've read previously but I hadn?' picked up the recurring theme till now.
I think it wise not to make any comment on these 'interesting' references!!!.

Page 177 Arrow - I love the way DW gets his hero, Swithin to compare himself to two of the other well known fictional hero?s of the day, Bulldog Drummond and The Saint.

Page 272 Arrow - The one and only real occult reference is to an Astral appearance made to one of the characters by relatives warning him of a difficult decision he is about to make.

References are often made in the book to Asia Minor. I'd heard of it but didn't really know what or where it was. It is;
The historical name for Anatolia - the Asian part of Turkey.

There are lots of interesting facts and figures relating to Turkey at that time.
I had no idea of the impact that Mustapha Kemal (The countries leader) later adopting the name of Kemal Ataturk (Father of the Turks) had on Turkey.
Following a series of impressive victories against all odds, he led his nation to full independence. He put an end to the antiquated Ottoman dynasty whose tale had lasted more than six centuries - and created the Republic of Turkey in 1923, establishing a new government truly representative of the nation's will.
He changed the name of the capital from Constantinople (Now Istanbul) to Angora (Now Ankara).
Women were given the vote, the traditional Turkish Fez was prohibited, Roman lettering replaced Arabic and European Legal systems such as the Swiss system of civil law were adopted wholesale.

Even though this story wasn't his greatest, you certainly benefit from the knowledge imparted.
Richard Webster
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon 1 Sep, 2014 11:03:17
Location: Winchester

Post by Richard Webster »

I've not read this one yet, but Darren's recent post on another thread about DW's 1936 talk to the Hastings and St. Leonards Literary Society, in which he addressed the subject of film adaptations of his work, prompted me to try and track down the film version of "The Eunuch of Stamboul", called "The Secret of Stamboul" here in Britain, but released as "The Spy in White" in the United States, and starring James Mason and Valerie Hobson.

This Youtube link should take one straight to it, otherwise just put "R J Marlowe's Faves" into Youtube's search facility, and it's No. 31 on the playlist this leads to. The only alternative way of seeing this seems to be an expensive Region 1 DVD that wouldn't play on most European DVD players in any case. ... BRSWmDI1t7

I haven't watched it yet, and may read the book first. Quality appears to be okay - there's lots of static for the first twenty seconds or so, and then it seems fine after that. Can any film, or book, possibly live up to this cover, though?!?!?


Sadly, no luck thus far in tracking down the film version of "The Forbidden Territory".
Posts: 146
Joined: Sun 21 Oct, 2012 15:20:17
Location: London

Post by shanedwyer »

I read this as a teenager in a dreary Southampton bedsit. I absolutely loved it- its vistas of romance and adventure really lifted the spirits.
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