Jane Austen & Co. presents the third event in our “Asia & the Regency” series. Horace Walpole’s Hieroglyphic Tales are remembered as some of the most surreal literature produced in eighteenth- century England. In this talk, Peter Sabor (McGill University) will explore the depiction of China in English literature through Walpole’s stories.
Among the many eighteenth-century European authors who took an interest in China without crossing or approaching its borders was Horace Walpole. The furthest east that he ever travelled was to Naples, during his Grand Tour of Europe in 1739-41. He did, however, begin reading about China from an early age. In 1735, as an eighteen-year-old undergraduate at King’s College, Cambridge, he acquired the opulent, four-volume folio edition of Jean Baptiste du Halde’s Description géographique, historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de l’Empire de la Chine. Walpole’s early immersion in du Halde’s magisterial work seems to have worked on his imagination over the years; he put his interest in China to use in four of his later works. This talk will study Walpole’s uses of China in these four publications, as well as an anonymous satirical response: An Answer from Lien Chi in Pekin, to Xo Ho the Chinese Philosopher in London, to which is annexed a letter from Philo-Briton to Lien Chi (1757).
You can read “Mi Li: A Chinese Fairy Tale” for free at the Literature Network:http://www.online-literature.com/…/hieroglyphic-tales/5/
Or you can listen to a short audiobook on LibriVox: https://librivox.org/hieroglyphic-tales-by-horace-walpole/
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