I have been accused of a crime—the crime of historical inaccuracy in my novel, The Concubine Saga. I was tried and convicted without a trial by Tilly, a reviewer at The Readers Cafe.
However, the facts say otherwise and in a trial with a jury of my peers, I’m convinced that I would have been found innocent on all counts, as I shall prove in this series of post.
There is a conundrum to this issue—reviewers and many readers feel that an author has no right to respond to criticism of his or her work even when a review boldly makes accusations and false claims, but I do not agree. If an author believes he or she has been defamed, then it is the duty of the author to speak out in his or her own defense unless a loyal fan does it first.
Today, the Internet makes it possible for anyone to write a book review. In fact, it seems that the Internet is becoming the only go-to-place of research for couch potatoes. However, I doubt that every word written in every book in the world may be found through a Google search.
Furthermore, this isn’t the first time the historical accuracy of “The Concubine Saga” had been challenged. The first example of defamation came from China in 2008.
If you are unsure what defamation means, here is the definition: to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate: The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.
In 2008, a book review of My Splendid Concubine (the first half of The Concubine Saga) appeared online for Beijing Today, an English language newspaper produced by the Communist Youth League of China, and the reviewer claimed the historical accuracy of the novel was questionable because the opening chapter mentioned there were clocks in the Forbidden City.
The Beijing Today reviewer claimed that the Qing Dynasty was too conservative to have clocks.
However, in our extensive personal research library of China sitting on shelves in our home there is a book that mentions the Qianlong Emperor’s collection of clocks (the book also had photos of a few of the clocks).
I sent an e-mail to Beijing Today with the ISBN number including pull quotes with page numbers from that book proving that there were hundreds if not thousands of clocks in the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace during most of the Qing Dynasty.
I never heard back from Beijing Today, and I shrugged it off. After all, how many people in the rest of the world outside China will ever read that negative review of my work in a Chinese Communist English language newspaper with a circulation of 50,000? In fact, when I went on-line recently and used Google in an attempt to find that review, it did not appear in any search results.
The Qianlong Emperor was the sixth emperor of the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty and the fourth Qing emperor to rule over China. He ruled China from 1735 to1796, and he wasn’t alone in his love of clocks.
“The Kangzi (ruled China 1661 to 1722) and Qianlong emperors of the Qing Dynasty were fascinated by European clocks, which were often presented as tribute gifts by envoys.” Source: The Emperor Looks West, Peabody Essex Museum
I have visited the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace in Beijing more than once since 1999 and with my own eyes, I saw a few clocks on display that belonged to Qing Dynasty emperors—not many since most of the Imperial treasures and China’s treasury were looted by the Nationalists as Chiang Kai-shek fled China for Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Civil War.
Continued on July 9, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 2
Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.
His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.
And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.
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