Manchu Decadence: The China Memoirs of Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, Abridged and Unexpurgated (China History)

Manchu Decadence: The China Memoirs of Sir Edmund Trelawny Backhouse, Abridged and Unexpurgated (China History)

Language: English

Pages: 390

ISBN: 988199828X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In 1898 a young Englishman walked into a homosexual brothel in Peking and began a journey that he claims took him all the way to the bedchamber of imperial China’s last great ruler, the Empress Dowager Tz’u Hsi. The man was Sir Edmund Backhouse, and his controversial memoirs, Décadence Mandchoue, were published for the first time by Earnshaw Books in 2011. This edition, renamed Manchu Decadence, is abridged and unexpurgated, meaning that it focuses on the most extraordinary and valuable elements of Backhouse’s narrative. Backhouse was a talented sinologist, and his book provides a unique and shocking glimpse into the hidden world of China’s imperial palace, with its rampant corruption, grand conspiracies and uninhibited sexuality.

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Tombs; where twenty-two years later her hallowed remains, hearsed in death, were torn from their cerements and her sacred body, stark naked, covered with horrid black spots, hair dishevelled, her tiny features fully recognizable was exposed in front of the sacrificial hill to the gaze of the unholy crowd. Special orders had been given to the Banner troops (in those days the police force was highly rudimentary and quite ineffective), through Grand Secretary Junglu himself, to allow to the long,

Throne (i.e. in the imperial capital)! Not only so, but the foreigners have interfered with our internal affairs and have amazed us all by uttering words that none should venture to suggest (i.e. the abdication of Tz’u Hsi). We had previously notified in earnest language the Rulers and Presidents of the world regarding the lawless acts of the foreign soldiery and are now in receipt of a reply from the Tsar of Russia which is most courteously and reasonably worded. Does not this show that the

tastes. As historian Wu Cuncun notes in Homoerotic Sensibilities in Late Imperial China: By the end of the reign of the [Ch’ien Lung] emperor (1735-96) [Peking] boasted several districts catering for male-love and boy-actors were idealized as objects of sublime beauty, receiving clients in nightclubs or brothels … In late imperial China male-love became so popular as to cause the overshadowing of female brothels by male homosexual brothels in the capital city … People who enjoyed homosexual

thoroughly, one of those who are in the know, as he doubtless was, as I have the best reason to aver. The eunuch of P’u Chün, who was named Ju Hsi, elected to present his shapely posterior to the bath attendant who performed the requisite evolutions with admirable calmness, as if he was unembarrassed by his august spectator, and seemed greatly to please the Old Buddha with his very long virile member which she had contemplated with libidinous interest. (In fact, knowing the Empress’ little ways,

ten days before decreeing Ho’s death penalty. Hence, Chia Ch’ing’s death which I am about to recount appeared to his contemporaries as the just vengeance and retribution of offended Heaven. I may criticize his barbaric blood-lust but have no justification (being what I am) to impugn his morals; he was homosexual through and through in either aspect, but perhaps more particularly revelled in the passive or pathic ecstasy. It was said at court that ten stalwart males a day would still find His

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