In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 75 were, all in all, about forty male servants among Wen's household staff," while the original text reads: "Those servants who worked in Wen's house are all about fortyyears old." However, this is unquestionablya brilliant choice byJoshua Fogel for introducing this writer to English readers, because the novel is a fine example of Chin's unique ability to blend history and fiction as well as to display his style ofdetective fiction. Though Chin Shunshin may not be well known in the English -speaking world, his vast output is widely appreciated not only by Japanese but also by Chinese readers, since a number ofhis works have been translated into Chinese. Hopefully more ofhis writing will appear in English and other languages, so that more people will become acquainted with this gifted Japanese writer. Nanyan Guo University of Otago, New Zealand Anachronism andAnomaly Eleanor Cooney and Daniel Altieri. Deception, a Novel ofMurder and Madness in Tang China. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1991. 640 pp. Hardcover $22.00. Paperback $5.99. During the Second World War the eminent Sinologist Robert van Gulik (19101967 ), unable to pursue more scholarly interests due to pressing duties in the Dutch Foreign Service, turned his attention in his leisure moments to translating an anonymous eighteenth-century detective novel—the Wu Zetian si da qian (Four grand and marvelous cases from the era ofEmpress Wu Zetian)—which appeared in 1949 under the tide Dee GoongAn: Three Murder Cases Solved by Judge Dee. His intention in publishing this work was to make a genre ofChinese fiction, little studied or translated previously, known to the Western world. After the war he returned to scholarship with a translation ofa thirteenth-century Chinese legal casebook, the Tang-yin pi-shih: Parallel Casesfrom under the Pear-Tree (1956). Apparendy stimulated by these forays into traditional literature and history , he then gave free rein to his imagination during the late fifties and early sixties and wrote some seventeen novels ofhis own based on the exploits ofJudge y nwersity Deg -p^ese DOOk;S were the product offantasy, tempered by a great font oflearning derived from decades ofstudying Chinese culture. Van Gulik created a legendary hero unrecognizable to the readers of Di Renjie's (Judge Dee) biographies in the ofHawaii Press 76 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 dynastic histories. The real Judge Dee was a noted jurist ofthe early Tang (618— 907), but he was not numbered among the half-dozen men who earned reputations in die late seventh and early eighth centuries for their uncanny acumen in unraveling baffling mysteries, the primary qualification for a hero ofdetective fiction in both the East and die West. Whatever the case, Van Gulik succeeded, not only in creating a Chinese hero for a Western audience, but also in accomplishing the all but impossible task ofmaking an imperial official living and working in ancient times into an intelligible figure for a modern English audience whose values, knowledge, and experience were as different from those of traditional China as could be imagined. The popularity ofhis novels is certainly the best measure ofhis success. They have been printed and reprinted periodically for nearly four decades, and at least one ofthem was made into a movie. Deception is an attempt to remake the Judge Dee legend. In die words of the authors, Van Gulik "placed this man in a time resembling the China ofa much later dynasty" (p. 634). So they set out to write a novel that, although fictional, is an "extrapolation from the truth, much ofthat truth far stranger than any fiction we might have dreamed up" (p. 633). What "extrapolation" means here is far from clear, but the authors evidendy intended to write a novel that placed Judge Dee in his own times and to formulate a narrative that, in some fashion, was true. The blurb on the cover gives Daniel Altieri's qualifications for undertaking diis task, describing him as an Orientalist. He appears to have received enough instruction in Chinese to attempt a translation of a manifesto in classical Chinese which Di Renjie had submitted to die throne. In addition, die Center for Asian Studies at Western Washington...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 75-79
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.