Judge Dee at Work First Edition Rare Book by Robert van Gulik 1967



JUDGE DEE AT WORK First Edition Rare Book


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Arthur Rackham
Rare Books






PUBLISHED: Heinemann: London 1967

8vo, First Edition, original black cloth, gilt lettered spine in

its price-clipped pictorial dust wrapper, pp. vi + 178, illustrated

by the author with 8 full page drawings, small closed tear

to lower edge of upper cover, plus a few small marks,

neat previous owner's bookplate on front free endpaper,

a clean and very good copy.

PRICE: U.S.$75




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Judge Dee

The author, having finished the translation of the story Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee around 1948, included an essay on the largely forgotten genre of Chinese detective stories. He suggested in his after word that it was easy to imagine re-writing some of the old Chinese case histories with an eye towards modern readers. Not long after he published Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, van Gulik himself tried his hand at creating a detective story based on some older Chinese case histories. This became the book The Chinese Maze Murders (completed around 1950). As van Gulik thought the story would have more interest to Japanese and Chinese readers, he had it translated into Japanese by a friend (finished in 1951) and it was sold in Japan under the title "Meiro-no-satsujin". With the success of the book, van Gulik embarked on translating the book into Chinese. The translation was published by a Singapore book publisher in 1953. The reviews were good and van Gulik wrote two more books (The Chinese Bell Murders and The Chinese Lake Murders) over the next few years, also with an eye towards Japanese and then Chinese editions.
After all this work was done, van Gulik found a publisher for English language versions of these stories and the first English language book was published in 1957. Later books were written and published in English first, the translations came afterwards.

The Complete The Judge Dee Mysteries

1. Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (originally Dee Goong An) (1941-1948 translated from Chinese by Van Gulik)
2. The Chinese Maze Murders (originally written 1950, published in Japanese in 1951, published in English in 1957)
3. The Chinese Bell Murders (originally written between 1953 and 1956, published in English in 1958)
4. The Chinese Lake Murders (originally written between 1953 and 1956, published in English in 1960)
5. The Chinese Gold Murders (first published in English in 1959)
6. The Chinese Nail Murders (1961)
7. The Haunted Monastery (1961)
8. The Emperor's Pearl (1963)
9. The Lacquer Screen (1964)
10. The Red Pavilion (1964)
11. The Monkey and the Tiger, short stories (1965)
12. The Willow Pattern (book) (1965)
13. Murder in Canton (1966)
14. The Phantom of the Temple (1966)
15. Judge Dee at Work, short stories (1967)
16. Necklace and Calabash (1967)
17. Poets and Murder (1968)

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Here is a complete bibliography for the Judge Dee Mysteries novels written by Van Gulik.

Robert Hans van Gulik (髙羅佩) (August 9, 1910, Zutphen - September 24, 1967, The Hague) was a highly educated orientalist, diplomat, musician (of the guqin) and writer, best known for the Judge Dee mysteries, the protagonist of which he borrowed from the 18th century Chinese detective novel Dee Goong An.
Van Gulik was the son of a medical officer in the Dutch army of what was then called the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia). He was born in the Netherlands but from the age of three till twelve he lived in Batavia (now Jakarta) where he was tutored in Mandarin and other languages. He went to the University of Leyden in 1934 and obtained his Ph. D. in 1935. His talents as a linguist suited him for a job in the Dutch Foreign Service which he joined in 1935 and he was then stationed in various countries, mostly in East Asia (Japan and China).
He was in Tokyo when Japan declared war on the Netherlands in 1941 but he, and the rest of the Allied diplomatic staff, were evacuated in 1942. He spent most of the rest of World War II as the secretary for the Dutch mission to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government in Chongqing. While in Chongqing he married a Chinese woman (Shui Shifang), the daughter of an Imperial mandarin (under the Manchu Dynasty). Together they had four children.
After the war ended, he returned to the Netherlands then went to the United States as the Councillor of the Dutch embassy in Washington D.C.. He returned to Japan in 1949 and stayed there for the next four years. While in Tokyo he published his first two books, Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee and a privately published book of erotic colored prints from the Ming dynasty. Later postings took him all over the world from New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur, Beirut (during the 1958 Civil War) to The Hague. From 1965 until his early death from cancer in 1967 he was the Dutch ambassador to Japan.

The Judge Dee mysteries
During World War II Robert van Gulik translated the 18th century detective novel Dee Goong An into English under the title Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (first published in Tokyo in 1949). The main character of this book, Judge Dee, was based on the real statesman and detective Di Renjie who lived in the seventh century during the Tang Dynasty (A. D. 600-900), though in the novel itself elements of Ming Dynasty China (A. D. 1300-1600) were mixed in.
Thanks to his translation of this largely forgotten work, van Gulik became interested in Chinese detective fiction and he decided to attempt one himself. His first attempt, The Chinese Bell Murders, was written from 1948-1950 and "borrowed" Judge Dee and his assistants from Dee Goong An.
His intent in writing this first Judge Dee novel was, as he wrote in remarks on The Chinese Bell Murders, "to show modern Chinese and Japanese writers that their own ancient crime-literature has plenty of source material for detective and mystery-stories"
Van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries follow the long tradition of Chinese Detective fiction, intentionally preserving a number of key elements of that writing culture. Most notably he had Judge Dee solve three different (and sometimes unrelated) cases, a traditional device in Chinese mysteries.
The whodunit element is also less important in the Judge Dee stories than it is in the traditional Western detective story, though still more so than in traditional Chinese detective stories.


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Judge Dee at Work First Edition Rare Book