‘Watch out, there may be poison in it!’ (<i>Er Ma</i>, 1929)

Anne Witchard

in Lao She in London

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9789888139606
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9789882208643 | DOI:
‘Watch out, there may be poison in it!’ (Er Ma, 1929)

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This chapter reads Er Ma against the socio-cultural background outlined in the previous chapters. By showing us London's Chinatown through the eyes of his Chinese protagonists, Lao She's narrative points up the distorting interference of the British gaze and the constructedness of the mediated, orientalized space that was ‘Limehouse’ in British fiction. While Lao She portrays the racist ideology that underwrites the many prejudices which Westerners have against the Chinese, he does not attribute all China's ills to foreign aggression. China is weak because the old decadent order still prevails. She must shake off the weight of outmodedtraditions of oppression, and open up to the radical post-War thinking of Western intellectuals that might provide a model for the New China.

Keywords: Douglas Goldring; Joseph Conrad; Heart of Darkness; Ma Meyrick; Kew Pagoda; Limehouse Nights; Rabindranath Tagore; Opium Wars; Thomas De Quincey; Ebenezer Howard

Chapter.  4087 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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