Death by a Thousand Cuts

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2008 - History - 320 pages
2 Reviews

In a public square in Beijing in 1904, multiple murderer Wang Weiqin was executed before a crowd of onlookers. He was among the last to suffer the extreme punishment known as lingchi. Called by Western observers ‚eoedeath by a thousand cuts‚e or ‚eoedeath by slicing,‚e this penalty was reserved for the very worst crimes in imperial China.

A unique interdisciplinary history, Death by a Thousand Cuts is the first book to explore the history, iconography, and legal contexts of Chinese tortures and executions from the tenth century until lingchi‚e(tm)s abolition in 1905. The authors then turn their attention to an in-depth investigation of ‚eoeoriental‚e tortures in the Western imagination. While early modern Europeans often depicted Chinese institutions as rational, nineteenth- and twentieth-century readers consumed pictures of lingchi executions as titillating curiosities and evidence of moral inferiority. By examining these works in light of European conventions associated with despotic government, Christian martyrdom, and ecstatic suffering, the authors unpack the stereotype of innate Chinese cruelty and explore the mixture of fascination and revulsion that has long characterized the West‚e(tm)s encounter with ‚eoeother‚e civilizations.

Compelling and thought-provoking, Death by a Thousand Cuts questions the logic by which states justify tormenting individuals and the varied ways by which human beings have exploited the symbolism of bodily degradation for political aims.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - BellaFoxx - LibraryThing

In Autumn 1904 Wang Weiqin was executed in Beijing. The manner of execution is called in Chinese lingchi chusi, “to put to death by lingchi”. It has been translated as “death by a thousand cuts ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Meggo - LibraryThing

If I were to summarize this book in a sentence, it would be "Ling Chi - not as bad as you think". This book contained a detailed and well researched look at the history of judicial torture in China ... Read full review

Contents

The Laws of Punishment in Late Imperial China
35
The Origins of Lingchi and Problems of Its Legitimacy
68
Lingchi in the Ming Dynasty
97
Tormenting the Dead
122
Chinese Torture in the Western Mind 752
152
Misreading Lingchi
203
Georges Batailles Interpretation
222
Lingering On
243
Bibliography
297
Index
313
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Timothy Brook is Professor of History and Republic of China Chair at the University of British Columbia.

Gregory Blue is Associate Professor of History, University of Victoria.

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