Robert van Gulik

(1910 – 1967)

Robert van GulikBiographical Sketch

Robert Hans van Gulik (Chinese: 髙羅佩; pinyin: Gāo Luópèi; Zutphen, Netherlands, August 9, 1910 – The Hague, Netherlands, September 24, 1967) was a highly educated orientalist, diplomat, musician (player of the guqin, a Chinese zither-like seven-string musical instrument), 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 (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee).

Van Gulik’s Judge Dee mysteries follow in 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 in each book, 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 fiction. Nevertheless, van Gulik’s novels were adapted to a more Western audience, avoiding the supernatural and religious traditions of Buddhism and Daosim in favour of rationality.

Van Gulik also wrote twenty-odd essays and monographs on various subjects, mainly but not exclusively on aspects of Chinese culture. Much of his scholarly work was first published outside the Netherlands. In his lifetime van Gulik was recognized as a European expert on Imperial Chinese jurisprudence.

Read more about Robert van Gulik on Wikipedia.

 

Bibliography

The Judge Dee Mysteries
  • The Chinese Maze Murders (1952)
  • The Chinese Bell Murders (1958)
  • The Chinese Gold Murders (1959)
  • The Chinese Lake Murders (1960)
  • The Haunted Monastery (1961)
  • The Chinese Nail Murders (1961)
  • The Lacquer Screen (1962)
  • The Emperor’s Pearl (1963)
  • The Red Pavilion (1964)
  • The Willow Pattern (1965)
  • The Monkey and the Tiger (1965)
    – 2 novellas:

    • The Morning of the Monkey
    • The Night of the Tiger
  • Murder in Canton (1966)
  • The Phantom of the Temple (1966)
  • Necklace and Calabash (1967)
  • Judge Dee at Work (1967)
    – 8 Short Stories:

    • Five Auspicious Clouds
    • He Came with the Rain
    • Murder on New Year’s Eve
    • The Coffins of the Emperor
    • The Wrong Sword
    • The Two Beggars
    • The Murder on the Lotus Pond
  • Poets and Murder (1968)

 

A Selection of Quotes

Judge Dee at Work

“Though everything will seem dark to you now, remember that even behind the darkest clouds of night there shines the moon of dawn.”

Murder in Canton

“Yau proposed another round, then asked: ‘Is it true that to the west of the Khalif’s domain there live white-skinned people, with blue eyes and yellow hair?’
‘There can’t be men like that!’ Chiao Tai protested. ‘Must be ghosts or devils!'”

Find more quotes by Robert van Gulik on Goodreads.

 

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