Title: Judge Dee At Work
Publication Date: 1967
Book Condition: Very Good In Dustjacket
Edition: 1st Edition.
New York. 1967. Scribners. 1st American Edition. Very Good In Dustjacket. 174 pages. hardcover. keywords: Mystery China Dutch. inventory # 7114. FROM THE PUBLISHER - Following novels and short stories were published in English by van Gulik. The short story collection JUDGE DEE AT WORK (published in 1967) contains a ‘Judge Dee Chronology’ detailing Dee's various posts in specific years and stories set in these times. Van Gulik's last two books, POETS AND MURDER and NECKLACE AND CALABASH, were not listed in the chronology, as they were written after JUDGE DEE AT WORK, but they are both set in the time when Judge Dee was the magistrate in Poo-yang. The Judge Dee character is based on the historical figure Di Renjie (c. 630–c. 700), magistrate and statesman of the Tang court. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China, a ‘folk novel’ was written set in former times, but filled with anachronisms. Van Gulik found in the 18th century Di Gong An (Chinese Pinyin: dí g?ng àn , lit. ‘Cases of Judge Dee’) an original tale dealing with three cases simultaneously, and, which was unusual among Chinese mystery tales, a plot that for the most part lacked an overbearing supernatural element which could alienate Western readers. He translated it into English and had it published under the title CELEBRATED CASES OF JUDGE DEE. This gave van Gulik the idea of writing his own novels, set with the similar Ming anachronisms, but using the historical character. Van Gulik was careful in writing the main novels to deal with cases where Dee was newly appointed to a city, thereby isolating him from the existing lifestyle and enabling him to maintain an objective role in the books. Van Gulik's novels and stories made no direct reference to the original Chinese work and so CELEBRATED CASES OF JUDGE DEE is not considered to be part of the Judge Dee series. Initially Dee is assisted only by his faithful clerk, Sergeant Hoong, an old family retainer. However, in THE CHINESE GOLD MURDERS, which describes Dee's initial appointment and first criminal cases, the judge encounters two highwaymen, euphemistically called ‘men of the greenwood,’ Ma Joong and Chiao Tai, who attempt to rob him but are so impressed with his character that they give up their criminal careers and join his retinue on the spot. A little later, in THE CHINESE LAKE MURDERS, a third criminal, Tao Gan, an itinerant confidence trickster and swindler, similarly joins. Judge Dee ends his career being promoted to the position of senior Metropolitan Judge in the capital, and his assistants obtain official ranks in the Army and civil service. Van Gulik also wrote series of newspaper comics about Judge Dee in 1964-1967, adding up to a total of 19 adventures. The first 4 were regular balloon strips, but the later 15 had the more typically Dutch textblock under the pictures. Judge Dee, naturally, is responsible for deciding the sentence as well as assessing guilt or innocence, although van Gulik notes in the stories that all capital punishments must be referred to and decided by officials in the capital. One of the sentences he frequently has to deal with is slow slicing; if he is inclined to mercy, he orders the final, fatal, cut to be made first, thus rendering the ceremony anticlimactic. Bookseller Inventory # 7114
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