By Elizabeth Chang

ISBN-10: 0804759456

ISBN-13: 9780804759458

This e-book strains the intimate connections among Britain and China through the 19th century and argues for China's relevant impression at the British visible mind's eye. Chang brings jointly an strange workforce of basic resources to enquire how nineteenth-century Britons checked out and represented chinese language humans, locations, and issues, and the way, within the method, ethnographic, geographic, and aesthetic representations of China formed British writers' and artists' imaginative and prescient in their personal lives and reports. for plenty of Britons, China used to be even more than a geographical place; it used to be additionally a manner of seeing and being visible that may be both embraced as artistic proposal or rejected as contagious impression. In either instances, the belief of China's visible distinction stood in destructive distinction to Britain's evolving feel of the visible and literary genuine. to raised clutch what Romantic and Victorian writers, artists, and designers have been doing at domestic, we also needs to comprehend the overseas "objects" present in their midst and what they have been out of the country.

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These multiple viewing moments connect closely, for Chambers, to a play of emotion and attention within the properly receptive aesthetic subject. ”31 As a trope that promises what it never conveys, this “apparent figure” connects generally to collective British understanding of Chinese manipulation of the natural world through its metaphorical terms. A journey down a particular stream, for example, yields a succession of views rendered multiple, deferred, or denied. €. 32 Chambers’s catalogue of the vagaries of emotional response desirable in a garden visitor—curiosity, expectation, and disappointment—all represent temporally dependent moods at once reliant on the subjective progress of the single passenger and, at the same time, linked to the broader course of national progress.

The triple function of a garden—to render visitors simultaneously amused, curious, and attentive—indicates the responsibilities of the garden’s heightened version of the natural world. Chambers’s controversial proposition is that the appearance of an ordinary English field is in fact not varied or imaginative enough to elicit the kind of feeling, aesthetic response that a landscape garden ought properly to provoke. ”27 Further, and even more controversially, this gardener must source those affections in a foreign soil.

These vagaries of perception question the stability of the structure, giving meaning to visual arrangements in the first place. If the metaphor and other forms of symbolic expression help constitute experience through language, the garden’s figurative representations of nature shape the limits of experience in visual and spatial terms, and the play of perspective challenges the constraints of visual and spatial bounds. Thus in producing an imaginary observer capable of embodying these variable viewing perspectives, Chambers foreshadows a much later frac- 33 34 Garden turing of unified perspective in mainstream British aesthetics.

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Britain's Chinese Eye: Literature, Empire, and Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century Britain by Elizabeth Chang


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