FORGOTTEN BOOKS #27: THE GIVEN DAY By Robert van Gulik

Thanks to Bill Crider’s generosity, I was able to get my hands on Robert van Gulik’s rare, contemporary novel: The Given Day. Robert van Gulik is best known for his Judge Dee series of mysteries featuring a clever Chinese magistrate and his amazing staff operating in the T’ang Dynasty (618-907). But in 1964, van Gulik published this mystery which completely abandons the style he used in the Judge Dee books. In his fascinating “Postscript,” Janwillem Van de Wetering argues this book was van Gulik’s attempt to reconcile his “Dutchness” with the Eastern attitudes and philosophies that attracted him during his time in the Far East. Dennis McMillan published a paperback edition of this novel that you might be able to find on the Internet at a reasonable price. The hardcover edition goes for about $1,200.

14 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #27: THE GIVEN DAY By Robert van Gulik

    1. george Post author

      I’ve never seen an actual hardcover copy of THE GIVEN DAY. I’m guessing McMillan printed 300 copies or so and every copy was spoken for.

      Reply
  1. Rick Robinson

    I’m a little confused, not an unusual state of affairs. That sure does look like a hardcover in the photo, yet you say, George, that you have never seen one. So Mr. Crider loaned you the paperback, but you found a photo of the HC, or?

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      I found a photo of the actual hardcover edition online. I’ve never held nor seen a copy of the hardcover in a bookstore ever.

      Reply
  2. Rick Robinson

    By the way – and this is off topic so delete it if you wish – LAST EXIT TO BABYLON, the 4th volume of collected short stories by Zelanzy is out from NESFA, as is QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS, their 2nd volume of stories, articles and poems by Poul Anderson (Vol. 1 of the Anderson was excellent).

    Reply
  3. Rick Robinson

    Sorry, George. I should have known you’d already know about and have the books. I didn’t get the email heads-up this time, just checked the website and there they were…

    Have a great weekend, George and everyone!

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      THE GIVEN DAY is very different from the Judge Dee books. It has a contemporary setting. Many critics didn’t like it because it wasn’t Judge Dee. Sometimes it’s hard to break out of genre people think you should stay in.

      Reply
  4. Les Blatt

    Fascinating – I’ll have to keep my eye out for a copy of the paperback. I’m a huge fan of the Judge Dee books – I have them all and have read most several times; I’d love to see how that “reconciliation” of modern Dutch and T’ang Dynasty sensibilities play out!

    Reply
    1. george Post author

      Bill Crider says editing is a lost art, Todd. I agree. But NESFA has its heart in the right place by reprinting the Good Stuff.

      Reply

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