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Drawing the Dragon

Western European Reinvention of China


Zhijian Tao

The Western reinvention of China can be found in various discourses ranging from French Enlightenment philosophes, German political economists, to British writers through centuries. It covers all aspects of Chinese culture, and varies from zealous idealization to blatant demonization.
But do those divergent and even contradictory accounts offer an alternative to «Orientalism?» Or are they artifacts with inherent and even dangerous limitations? More fundamentally, does the cultural theory of Orientalism provide an adequate basis for cross-cultural studies? This study examines conflicting 18 th - and 19 th -century European presentations of China and the inherent consistency in them. It also critiques contending positions on major cultural theories and contributes distinct and dynamic perspectives in the field of cross-cultural studies.
Contents: The Long and the Dragon – Contending Positions on «Orientalism» – Sir John Mandeville and His Exotic Desires – Scope of Study – Enlightenment: The Problem of Civility and Government: Leibniz’s Hallucinations - Montesquieu: An Opposite View – Imperialism. Theoretical Foundations: Hegel: China and World History - Tragic Contradiction: China and Political Economy - The Encyclopaedic Vision – Practical Imperialism and the Literary Culture: Goldsmith: Portrait of a Citizen - Coleridge’s Reveries - Landor’s Caricatures - De Quincey: Opium and Power - Cartoons in Punch – Picturing the Dao. «Other» than Logocentrism?: Derrida’s Use of the Pictographic Poetics - The Mist around the Chinese Script - The Dao and the Logos - Dao and Différance – Toward a Cultural Dialogue.