Officialdom Unmasked


Translated and Abridged by T. L. Yang

ISBN : 978-962-209-542-7

Literary Studies

June 2001

648 pages, 6.25″ x 9.5″

  • HK$250.00

Also available in Hardback HK$390.00

It has been said that the downfall of the Qing dynasty was due not so much to the 1911 Revolution as to the pervasive corruption and weakness within the Qing administration. The regime was rotting from within, and it did not take much to topple the three-hundred-year-old dynasty.

Officialdom Unmasked (官場現形記) was written by Li Boyuan in the early years of the twentieth century as the dynasty crumbled. Bizarre though they may seem, the stories told in the novel are based on true stories. From senior ministers to junior clerks, few were immune from taking bribes, stealing, philandering, dereliction of duty, or other wrongdoings. Here the writer portrays an official class who placed their selfish interests above that of the state, and who were so devoid of any moral rectitude that one could but wonder how a once mighty empire had fallen into so complete a decline.

Unlike most satires, often written with a degree of humour which evoke a chuckle here and there, this work came from a broken heart; it brings only tears, not smiles.

Li Boyuan was also known as Li Baojia. He established several newspapers including Youxi Bao (遊戲報)and Fanhua Bao (繁華報), and in 1903, became founder-editor of the reputable magazine Xiuxiang Xiaoshuo (繡像小說). The same year also saw the serialization of Officialdom Unmasked and the launching of his two other novels, namely Wenming Xiaoshi (文明小史) and Huo Diyu (活地獄).

T. L. Yang (楊鐵樑) was born in 1929 in Shanghai. He studied law in Soochow University from 1946 to 1949. In 1950 he entered London University, graduating with the degree of LLB (Hons.) in 1953. After his call to the Bar in 1954, he joined the Judiciary in Hong Kong, rising to the post of Chief Justice in 1988. In 1996 he resigned from his post and ran, unsuccessfully, for the Chief Executiveship of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. He is now a member of the Executive Council. He is also the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong and Chairman of the Red Cross of Hong Kong. Since his retirement from the Bench, he has actively pursued his interest in translating Chinese classics into English. Other interests include travel, reading, philately and Chinese antiques.