The Wisdom Within Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan is a collection of 175 aphorisms found inside the six Charlie Chan novels by Warren, Ohio author Earl Derr Biggers. This collection differentiates between the original aphorisms of literature and those in films from the 1930s to 1950s. Most readers probably never realized the author often borrowed these words of wisdom from the great sages and philosophers: Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Plato, Jesus, Lao-Tzu and the I Ching. He expertly wove them within his prose to bring insight and meaning. Contrary to this, the movie maxims were written—or rewritten—by scriptwriters and did not serve the same purpose. Hollywood turned out fortune-cookie wisdom, that eventually turned into slapstick comedy with quite the opposite effect of the literature.
In writing his six Charlie Chan novels, Earl Derr Biggers was among the first to publicly combat the anti-Chinese sentiment of the time. While most remember Charlie Chan for his famous words of wisdom, what also drew the public in, perhaps unconsciously, was the detective's constant battle against racism and xenophobia. Usually directed against himself. No other fictional detective ever had that challenge—perhaps even today! Biggers novels had no bumbling son numbers 1 or 2 to assist, or comedic African American servants like the films. And the Charlie Chan of literature did not sport a Fu Manchu-style mustache. Wisdom Within brings these facts to light, while identifying the original aphorisms the author set down through the voice of one of the world's most recognized fictional characters.
The book is divided into three parts. The first two "By the Book" and "By Category" sort them both chronologically as first written, then philosophically into eleven distinct categories. The third part "Statistically Speaking and Interestingly Enough" is a must for the mystery buff or Charlie Chan aficionado. It addresses significant and fun facts surrounding the aphorisms, novels, and original illustrations as serialized in The Saturday Evening Post. There have been other books on the aphorisms of Charlie Chan, but all devoted to those of film—never a collection of the original wisdom the author penned. Earl Derr Biggers' detective Charlie Chan first gained popularity through the works of literature. And the aphorisms Biggers borrowed from history's great philosophers helped him achieve worldwide recognition as one of America's first great mystery writers. Now, for the first time, Lou Armagno has collected them for all to enjoy in, The Wisdom Within Earl Derr Bigger's Charlie Chan: The Original Aphorisms Inside The Charlie Chan Canon.