/rechter_tie/remarks Rechter Tie / Robert van Gulik

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Remarks on my Judge Dee novels

The Chinese Bell Murders. This novel I drafted in Tokyo when
serving there as Counsellor of the Netherlands Embassy,from
Nov.1948 till Dec.1951. In 1949 I had published in Tokyo my
English translation of the 18th Century Chinese detective
novel Dee Goong An,and the Bell Murders was my first attempt
at writing a Chinese-style detective novel myself,borrowing
Judge Dee and his four lieutenants Hoong,Ma Joong,Chiao Tai
and Tao Gan ,with their main characteristics. My English
text was meant only as basis for a printed Chinese and/or
Japanese version,my aim being to show modern Chinese and
Japanese writers that their own ancient crime-literature
has plenty of source material for detective and mystery-sto-
ries. However, Japanese publishers thought this novel un-
suitable,because they feared the anti-Buddhist tendency
would offend Buddhist readers. Thus I decided to hold the
ms. for the time being,and in 1950 wrote my second Judge
Dee novel,viz.The Chinese Maze Murders. 
In Dec.1951 I was transferred from Tokyo to the post of
Counsellor of the Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi,and
during a fewweeks holiday with my family in Hongkong,I
re-wrote the opening chapter of the Bell Murders;I sent the
revised text back to Japan,and there the novel was published
in three issues of the Japanese monthly "Tantei-kurabu"
(Detective Club),in 1955. In 1953-56,when serving in The
Hague as Director of the Africa and Middle East section of
the Foreign Office,the Dutch publisher W.van Hoeve asked me
to translate the Bell Murdersinto Dutch.Upon re-reading my
ms. I found it lacked a dramitic ending,and I decided to
make Mrs.Liang the estranged wife of Lin Fan,which necessi-
tated only a few changes in the description of the pseudo-
Mrs.Liang,and the insertion of a new passage in the last
chapter.In this final version the novel was published in
Dutch and in English,in 1958. 
I did not write any new novel in Holland in 1953-56,but I
read a number of old Chinese collections of criminal cases,
hunting for new material.Thus I found the 13th century hand-
book for magistrates Tang-yin-pi-shih "Parallel cases from
under the Pear Tree",and made an annotated translation of
that text (published Leyden 1957,in the series Sinica Leiden-
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