8 April 2003
VAN GULIK, Robert H. (1910-1967), translator. Dee Goong An. Three Murder Cases Solved by Judge Dee. [Tokyo: Privately printed for the author by Toppan Printing, 1949].
8o. Frontispiece portrait of Judge Dee. Illustrated. Original pictorial woodcut-decorated boards (touch of wear to corners and lower board edge); original plain dust jacket (chip to front panel); cloth folding box.
FIRST EDITION, LIMITED EDITION, number 392 of 1200 copies SIGNED by the author and with his seal. Van Gulik's first stories, and the first of the Judge Dee mysteries, translated from an anonymous 18th-century account. "This branch of literature [detective novels] was fully developed in China several centuries before Edgar Allan Poe or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were born" (preface). Judge Dee (630-700) was a real-life Tang dynasty statesman.
[With]: A copy of the original woodcut used to decorate this binding. Van Gulik notes that the print was struck from nine different blocks and inspired by old Chinese theatrical posters.
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