【新書快訊】China from the Ruins of Athens and Rome : Classics, Sinology, and Romanticism, 1793-1938

【新書快訊】China from the Ruins of Athens and Rome : Classics, Sinology, and Romanticism, 1793-1938

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Author: Chris Murray
Publication date: 01 Jul 2020
Publisher: Oxford University Press

 

Description

Fascinated and often baffled by China, Anglophone writers turned to classics for answers. In poetry, essays, and travel narratives, ancient Greece and Rome lent interpretative paradigms and narrative shape to Britain’s information on the Middle Kingdom. While memoirists of the diplomatic missions in 1793 and 1816 used classical ideas to introduce Chinese concepts, Roman history held ominous precedents for Sino-British relations according to Edward Gibbon and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. John Keats illuminated how peculiar such contemporary processes of Orientalist knowledge-formation were. In Britain, popular opinion on Chinese culture wavered during the nineteenth century, as Charles Lamb and Joanna Baillie demonstrated in ekphrastic responses to chinoiserie. A former reverence for China yielded gradually to hostility, and the classical inheritance informed a national identity-crisis over whether Britain’s treatment of China was civilized or barbaric.

Amidst this uncertainty, the melancholy conclusion to Virgil’s Aeneid became the master-text for discussion of British conduct at the Summer Palace in 1860. Yet if Rome was to be the model for the British Empire, Tennyson, Sara Coleridge, and Thomas de Quincey found closer analogues for the Opium Wars in Greek tragedy and Homeric epic. Meanwhile, Sinology advanced considerably during the Victorian age. Britain broadened its horizons by interrogating the cultural past anew as it turned to Asia; Anglophone readers were cosmopolitans in time as well as space, aggregating knowledge of Periclean Athens, imperial Rome, and many other polities in their encounters with Qing Dynasty China.

Table of Contents

1: A Classical Cathay and a Real China
2: ‘Ancestral Voices Prophesying War’: Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Edward Gibbon, and the Warnings of History
3: The White Snake, Apollonius of Tyana, and John Keats’s Lamia
4: Charles Lamb, Roast Pork, and Willow Crockery
5: Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay’: British Progress, the Opium Trade, and Tennyson’s Retrospection
6: A Greek Tragedy in China: Thomas de Quincey’s Opium Wars Journalism
7: ‘From those flames no light’: The Summer Palace in 1860 and Beyond
8: Coda: ‘All things fall and are built again’: Yeats’s Daoist Optimism and the Fall of the Qing Empire
Appendix: Sara Coleridge, ‘Tennyson’s “Lotos-Eaters” with a New Conclusion’

 

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華人文化主體性研究中心

華人文化主體性研究中心

政治大學受教育部高教深耕計畫補助成立「華人文化主體性研究中心」,期能透過跨領域的研究整合,提高台灣在華人文化研究方面的國際能見度與學術水平,並期待因而能在華人學術圈中催生創新的思潮,讓全球共享中華文化的博大與精深。

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