Monthly Archives: March 2017

C. M. Faure Vindicated?

One of the most interesting of the ‘Stanley Stay-outs’ was Cyril Munro Faure, who seems to have remained uninterned because his boss at the South China Morning Post told the Japanese that he wasn’t British. I don’t know if this is true: he was born in Switzerland, one of his brothers was a Swiss citizen, and at some point  the children went to live with a Scottish-born guardian, so his nationality is something I’m still looking into. Anyway, the plan was for him to join a number of other SCMP staff in looking out for the company’s interests by signing up to work for the Hongkong News, a Japanese-sponsored English-language newspaper that was published from what had been the SCMP premises. In the 1945 Stanley Roll Faure is described as a compositor, or something similar, but he also wrote a weekly column under the heading ‘Is Anything New’? The implied answer was ‘practically nothing’ as Faure attempted to demonstrate that the ancient Egyptians had taught the Greeks most of what they knew while anticipating modern science in some of its most important discoveries. He stressed that the ‘whites’ had learnt from other Asian and African peoples too, but he always came back to the Egyptians.

I gather that Faure’s basic theory is not held by most qualified academics. Martin Bernal is one who does take a similar view to Faure’s, and his book Black Athena started a vigorous and ongoing debate. But, as I say, looking on as an outsider, it seems that the majority of scholars believe Bernal exaggerates the debt of the Greeks to the Egyptian and other civilisations to their south. Nevertheless, Faure’s position is obviously tenable and academically respectable, at least in its broad outlines.

As far as I can make out, Faure was self-taught – he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17 to take part in WWI – but his columns show a huge amount of knowledge and a probing intellect, although I thought he was going too far – much too far – when, in a couple of places, he hinted that he believed the Egyptians had provided the Chinese with the basis of their civilisation. However, a bit of Googling shows some recent support for Faure’s view:

This theorist even points to the Hyksos period (c. 1600 BCE) as the time of transmission, as does Faure. Both may be wrong, of course, and very probably are. But in future I’ll think twice before dismissing Faure’s ideas as eccentric and obviously incorrect.

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