China in Eighteenth-Century English and Irish Literature: Representations and Tensions


  • Mengmeng Yan Durham University


Eighteenth Century, Orientalism, China, Sinology, Fable


This study discusses the competing views of China held by English and Irish authors of the eighteenth century. The entrenched tensions between different viewpoints of China in this period not only demonstrate that the picture of eighteenth-century and Romantic Sinology was not just black and white, but also observe an important stage of Britain’s establishment of its own identity in a globalising eighteenth-century world order. This essay will first discuss the idea of the ‘mystified’ East by focusing on oriental tales and fables of the eighteenth century, and then look at the various attempts to present a ‘real’ China by English and Irish authors from the same period, such as Horace Walpole, Thomas Percy and Oliver Goldsmith. The division between the Orient and the Occident seems to be at once sharpened and challenged, as eighteenth-century English and Irish writers explore and reflect upon the perceived ‘proper knowledge’ of the eastern world. 


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How to Cite

China in Eighteenth-Century English and Irish Literature: Representations and Tensions. (2015). Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, 30.