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Writing China

Essays on the Amherst Embassy (1816) and Sino-British Cultural Relations

Writing China by Peter J. Kitson
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On 29 August 1816, Lord Amherst, exhausted after travelling overnight during an embassy to China, was roughly handled in an attempt to compel him to attend an immediate audience with the Jiaqing Emperor at the Summer Palace of Yuanming Yuan. Fatigued and separated from his diplomatic credentials and ambassadorial robes, Amherst resisted, and left the palace in anger. The emperor, believing he had been insulted, dismissed the embassy without granting it an imperial audience and rejected its "tribute" of gifts. This diplomatic incident caused considerable disquiet at the time. Some 200 years later, it is timely in 2016 to consider once again the complex and vexed historical and cultural relations between two of the nineteenth-century world's largest empires. The interdisciplinary essays in this volume engage with the most recent work on British cultural representations of, and exchanges with, Qing China, extending our existing but still provisional understandings of this area of study in new and exciting directions. They cover such subjects as female foot binding; English and Chinese pastoral poetry; translations; representations of the trade in tea and opium; Tibet; and the political, cultural and environmental contexts of the Amherst embassy itself. Featuring British and Chinese writers such as Edmund Spenser, Wu Cheng'en, Thomas De Quincey, Oscar Wilde, James Hilton, and Zhuangzi, these essays take forward the compelling and highly relevant subject for today of Britain and China's relationship. Peter J. Kitson is Professor of English at the University of East Anglia; Robert Markley is W.D. and Sara E. Trowbridge Professor of English at the University of Illinois. Contributors: Elizabeth Chang, Peter J. Kitson, Eugenia Zuroski-Jenkins, Zhang Longxi, Mingjun Lu, Robert Markley, Eun Kyung Min, Q.S. Tong
Boydell & Brewer; July 2016
205 pages; ISBN 9781782048169
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Title: Writing China
Author: Peter J. Kitson; Robert Markley