"Almost inevitably," ascertains Professor Conn, "Pearl's mediations on gender, status, and authority led her back to the Empress Dowager, Tz'u-hsi, one of history's most powerful women, who had ruled over China throughout Pearl's first sixteen years" (Conn 338).
She had already drawn some sketches of the heroine that she was to create in this "big book." She had produced her first full-length play, entitled The Empress (1937), in which Tz'u-hsi (Cixi) was the main character.
(11) Tz'u-hsi's life span (1835-1908) covers the vicissitude of a long period in Chinese history, a period when the Qing Dynasty was faced with the challenges of modern reform, nationalism, and mob violence on the one hand, and the "encroachment" (Buck's word) of Western powers, negotiation for peace and survival on the other.
"Pearl probably felt a sense of symbolic affiliation with Tz'u-hsi, but she harbored no imperial delusions," apologetically comments Professor Conn (Conn 341).
Tz'u-hsi (1835-1908), Modern Asian Studies, 13, 2 (1979), pp177-196.
Noting that Chinese Empress was made to resemble Dowager Empress Tz'u-hsi
, the text goes on to elaborate on her significance: "Toward the end of her reign, the Dowager Empress attempted to bring China in line with her European neighbors--she established schools for both boys and girls where Chinese and Western subjects would be taught." Although this is on its face true, it makes a curious statement on its own.
Seagrave, but Fang Chao-ying's biographical sketch of Tz'u-hsi (1835-1908) in this last-mentioned work does not even list Backhouse's works in its basic bibliography.
Because he needed Backhouse's pornographic fantasies about Tz'u-hsi to embellish yet again the legend of the last empress of China.
One can only wonder why Seagrave thought it necessary to expose his readers to the obscenities to be found in Backhouse's memoir of his imaginary love affair with Tz'u-hsi.
Backhouse in the Court of Tz'u-hsi." Presumably Seagrave was convinced he needed the hook and even at the end of the book he dips into these vivid manuscript pages once again as he describes the scene at Tz'u-hsi's desecrated grave.
Had Seagrave really written a new biography of Tz'u-hsi, the damage would have been less, but the biographical aspects of this book are recycled Western materials.