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Traces Remain: Essays And Explorations Hardcover – 24 January 2012
About the Author
- Publisher : Penguin UK (24 January 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0713994940
- ISBN-13 : 978-0713994940
- Item Weight : 492 g
- Dimensions : 14.4 x 3.2 x 22.2 cm
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from other countries
Never boring or too academic, arise your curiosity for further investigation.
The fact that every chapter analizes a different story it the perfect companion if you can't read the book in a brief time or if you want to read in your favourite pub or in holidays.
Of particular interest to Sherlockians is: “Joe the Ripper: a New Suspect.” Functioning like a palimpsest, this is a book review as well as an analytical discourse of Charles van Onselen’s 2007 The Fox and the Flies (“Fox” being the proposed Ripper suspect).
My observations on the “New” Jack the Ripper suspect:
With Nicholls’ re-shuffling of Jack the Ripper suspects, one becomes further perplexed by the castoff Ripper graffiti which announced “The Juwes are the men That Will not be Blamed for nothing." That is, you cannot just continue to blame us! Or, in the alternative, if Jews must be blamed for something, here’s something that will really cause a Ripple.
The details are that five prostitutes, alcoholic and destitute, were murdered and their corpses mutilated with a bladed instrument. These unsolved murders occurred in the early hours, between Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1888, in the untypical quiet of an overcrowded immigrant district of Whitechapel where Jews and Irish swelled the squalid ranks (no fog-lapped windowpanes). These women died while working, on the street, except for the last one who died in her lodgings.
South African historian van Onselen identifies “Joe” the Ripper, aka Joe Fox/Joe Silver as the sexually-motivated perpetrator. Fox lived in South Africa, having traveled there from New York and London in the late 1890s. He may have made a brief stop in Whitechapel in the 1890s but there was no recorded connection in 1888.
According to Hartley Nathan in "Who Was Jack the Ripper," “The authorities and upper classes assumed that the perpetrator must be a foreigner or a low-class savage.” Numerous Ripperologists also profiled a suspect from the upper classes, wandering through this bustling community unrecognized. Nicholl observes correctly that identification of the Ripper as Jewish may have been anti-Semitic scapegoating, but that it was more likely a possibility than not.
A Jack the Ripper suspect was reported to have worn astrakhan. Symbolically, in literature and in journalistic reporting, “swarthy” men wore astrakhan and so we find in Arthur Conan Doyle, T.S. Eliot, and in Evelyn Waugh. The Ripper was reported to have worn a hat, and in one sighting, it was described as a “deerstalker.” Jewish men always wore hats; a traditional habit. British workmen were not so obliged.
Van Onselen’s Joe Fox was a pornography entrepreneur (new on the Victorian horizon), brothel-keeping, criminal habitué…an immigrant trying to make a large living and unable to do so legitimately. Most of the Jewish suspects were excluded by dates, alibis, and other negations, but one persisted, and it wasn’t Joe Fox. It was Aaron Kosminski. He featured in the early police investigations upon witness identification. Robert House persuasively placed him as the killer in Jack the Ripper and the Case for Scotland Yard’s Prime Suspect.
Aaron emigrated with his family from Russo-Poland about 1882, at age 17. In those little towns, Jews were familiar with blood libel accusations—knife-slaughter and mutilation of gentile children for Jewish rituals. Aaron would also have observed the common ritual slaughter of chickens for the weekly shabbos table.
Living alone in Whitechapel, behind his family in a backroom shelter, Aaron was variously reported as an infrequent hairdresser, tailor, and as a laborer in Butcher’s Row. All was not without serendipity in Whitechapel. In 1880, author Charles Fox had published a celebrated version of "Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." Sweeney Todd was dedicated to slitting the throats of the upper class, and, inspired by utilitarian theories, converted the victims to tasty meat pies for the poor. He didn’t really exist but in Aaron Kosminski’s time, his bloody habits appeared again and again. In 1888, Benjamin Farjeon of Whitechapel published his version, "Devlin the Barber," and the legend played on in musical ditties, penny dreadfuls and in serializations as shilling “shockers.”
Mary Ann (Polly) Nichols, discovered 3:40 a.m. Fri. Aug. 31.
Annie Chapman, last heard at 5:30 a.m., Sat. morning Sept. 8.
two on one day: Liz Stride 12:45 a.m. and, Catherine Eddowes at about 1:45 a.m., early morning Sun. Sept. 30.
Mary Jane Kelly, last seen or heard in her lodgings, 2:30 a.m., Fri. Nov. 9.
Two of the murders fell proximate to the Jewish High Holy Days, which in 1888 were: Thurs. Sept. 6 -- Rosh Hashanah 1; Fri. Sept. 7-- Rosh Hashanah 2; Sat. Sept. 15, Yom Kippur. Three died before or after the weekend shabbos (Fri. sundown through Sat. sundown).
None of the prostitutes was Jewish though there were Jewish prostitutes. Sadie was not always a lady. According to van Onselen, as well as Conan Doyle’s colleague and fellow spiritualist William T. Stead in his anti-white slavery campaigning, Jewish pimps controlled East End brothels and transported their women to American haunts. Joe Fox may have found his career in this manner.
Jewish prostitutes awaited their customers indoors. The Ripper sought vulnerable women who wouldn’t recognize him and wouldn’t have a pimp in the shadows. It may be that the Whitechapel streets were lighter in night traffic in a community observing, fasting, or breaking the fast within the home. One of the victims was killed in the vicinity of a church where the women often stood. Catherine Eddowes was picked up around the corner from Rabbi Hermann Adler’s Great Synagogue, and her customer was observed by two Jewish congregants.
All the victims were killed within a mile of the Spitalfields market and slaughterhouses. Annie Chapman may have met her customer in Spitalfields. The Ripper killed the women at their street assignations, except for one. With the victim subdued, he cut her throat, from left to right. He would have been blood-soaked but workers in their leather aprons were commonplace. They came through Whitechapel towards home, or to the public sinks, or the cesspools. The graffiti about “the Juwes” was inscribed after Eddowes’ murder, above a passage leading to Aaron Kosminski’s lodgings.
Then, the murders stopped. There may be more victims on this list, but the opinions about them remain mixed because of divergences in the manner of death or method. Ripperologist Martin Fido, in "The Crimes, Detection and Death of Jack the Ripper," searched through asylum records to explain the cessation of the murders. Aaron Kosminski had been certified a lunatic and committed permanently to a London asylum in 1891. His family may have sheltered him. A witness who may have identified Kosminski, perhaps in the asylum before he was permanently committed, refused to testify against a fellow Jew and see him hanged.
Nicholl was left unpersuaded by Patricia Cornwell’s accusation of the artist Walter Sickert in "Portrait of a Killer." And, in his Ripper study, Hartley Nathan devoted a chapter to “My Favorites” none of whom is Jewish or Walter Sickert. I think my case is the most persuasive.