The Judge Dee Novels of R.H. van Gulik

The Case of the Chinese Detective and the American Reader


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About the Book

From 1949 to 1968 author Robert van Gulick wrote 15 novels, two novellas and eight short stories featuring Judge Dee, a Chinese magistrate and detective from the Tang dynasty. In addition to providing the setting for riveting mysteries, Dee’s world highlighted aspects of traditional Chinese culture through his personal relationships with his wives, his lieutenants and the citizens he served with dedication on the emperor’s behalf.
This book gives a synopsis of each Judge Dee story, along with commentary on plots, characters, themes and historical details. Exploring van Gulik’s influence on Chinese and Western detective fiction and on the image of China in popular 20th century American literature, this study brings to light a significant contributor to the development of detective fiction.

About the Author(s)

J.K. Van Dover taught in the English Department of Lincoln University for 38 years; he has also taught as a Fulbright Professor of American Literature in Germany, China, Austria, and Slovakia. He has published extensively on detective fiction.

Bibliographic Details

J.K. Van Dover
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 264
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9621-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1741-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Introduction: The Historical Dí Rénjié (Judge Di) 7
One. Judge Dee and the Two Traditions of the Detective Story 13
Two. The Judge Dee Novels 42
Three. From Heathen Chinee to Magistrate Dee: China and the Chinese in American Literature, 1880–1972 155
Appendix 1. The Six Ages of American Relations with China 217
Appendix 2. Judge Dee Chronologies 224
Appendix 3. China in American Fiction: A Chronology 228
Chapter Notes 235
Bibliography 243
Index 251