China and the Writing of English Literary Modernity, 1690-1770
Cambridge University Press
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This book explores how a modern English literary identity was forged by its notions of other traditions and histories, in particular those of China. The theorizing and writing of English literary modernity took place in the midst of the famous quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns. Eun Kyung Min argues that this quarrel was in part a debate about the value of Chinese culture and that a complex cultural awareness of China shaped the development of a 'national' literature in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England by pushing to new limits questions of comparative cultural value and identity. Writers including Defoe, Addison, Goldsmith, and Percy wrote China into genres such as the novel, the periodical paper, the pseudo-letter in the newspaper, and anthologized collections of 'antique' English poetry, inventing new formal strategies to engage in this wide-ranging debate about what defined modern English identity.
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