Robert E. Hegel


On his book True Crimes in Eighteenth-Century China: Twenty Case Histories

Cover Interview of December 17, 2009

Editor’s note

Originally, this interview ran on the Rorotoko cover page under the headline

“These true stories, from Chinese archives, show how justice was sought through the art of writing.”

We highlighted two quotes.

On the first page:

“As products of the same educational system that produced China’s novelists and story writers, the magistrates who wrote these reports had a similar sense of careful composition and the ability to make texts mean more than they say.”

On the second:

“Many cases in my book should be of particular interest to an inquisitive reader wanting to find out what happened, why, and what the punishment might have been: the two cases involving men who killed their own brothers, one over a few pounds of beans beyond what was needed for consumption and another over manure for fertilizing the fields.”