Chapter

A Reading of Readings: English Travel Books, Audiences, and Modern Chinese History, c. 1832 to the Present<sup>1</sup>

Ting Man Tsao

in Asian Crossings

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099142
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206632 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789622099142.003.0004
A Reading of Readings: English Travel Books, Audiences, and Modern Chinese History, c. 1832 to the Present1

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This chapter investigates the influence of the Ship Amherst voyage and subsequent narrations. The original journey involved a compact between Hugh Lindsay and Charles Gutzlaff, an alliance of British East India Company and missionary zeal. Both were motivated by the desire for the opening up of China to free trade and faith. It also aims to problematise the traditional use of Lindsay's and Gutzlaff's travel writings as “primary sources” for historical reconstructions of the voyage. It intervenes in the Eurocentric historiography of the Ship Amherst voyage by writing a “new imperial history” that reflects a greater diversity of perspectives. A new approach to the multifarious readings of the printed books (Lindsay's and Gutzlaff's travel accounts) is then provided for a wide range of audiences in histories and across cultures, an approach that will render visible differences — social, gender, cultural and historical — in accessing and reading English-language travel books. It is dangerous for postcolonial scholars to simply read the English book as cultural text or “primary source” without considering the complicated processes in which it was published, disseminated, edited, framed, summarized, and translated before reaching the reader.

Keywords: Ship Amherst voyage; Hugh Lindsay; Charles Gutzlaff; China; travel writings; primary sources; travel accounts; travel books

Chapter.  10152 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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