Tokyo: Printed for the Author by Toppan Printing Company, . 8vo (210 x 147 mm; 8 1/4 x 5 3/4 in.). , iv, xxiii, 237 pages. Illustrated with three reproductions of original Chinese pictures, and with six plates after ancient Chinese models drawn by the author. Original pictorial boards using a color woodcut print. A very fresh and bright copy, the ends of spine and corners just slightly worn, an old paper insert lightly offset on the colophon. Discreet ownership identification in ink on front free endpaper. Item #404017
FIRST EDITION, deluxe limited issue, number 657 of 1200 copies signed by van Gulik, and with his red chopmark. This was the first in the immensely popular series of stories and novels featuring Judge Dee. Van Gulik, a Dutch diplomat in Japan after the Second World War, translated the anonymously-written 18th century Chinese story Di Gong An (or Dee Goong An), having found a copy in a Tokyo bookstore. The story was based loosely on those of Di Renjie, a 7th century county magistrate and statesman of the Tang court. Van Gulik built off of the famous protagonist, writing his popular series of Judge Dee stories over the next 20 years. The first edition was bound specially with an original color woodcut on the cover and due to its fragility the book is often worn. The present example is fresh and bright. Evers, A Bibliography of Dr. R. H. van Gulik, p. 49.