“Empire’s repository”: Walter Scott’s writing, collection and reading of China

Kang Yen Chiu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scott may not have produced much literature in which China featured but, as the Advocates Library Catalogue shows, there is no denying that he did have a collection of nine China-related books in his extensive Abbotsford library. In addition to collecting Chinese books, Scott used Chinese wallpaper, a gift from his cousin Hugh Scott who worked for the East India Company in Guangzhou, China, to decorate the drawing room at Abbotsford. There are also some fine pieces of Chinese porcelain and other objects in the house. I firmly believe that we could gain a better knowledge of Scott’s view on the country and its culture from investigating the novelist’s collection of Chinese objects. The intention to write on this subject is not to satisfy the writer’s personal whim; it is rather to attempt a broadening of our understanding of Scott’s relation with an ancient country as well as the expanding British Empire of his time. Moreover, it is also this work’s intent to emphasise Scott’s status as not only a European writer but also a writer with a worldview.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-113
Number of pages25
JournalWenshan Review of Literature and Culture
Volume11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Abbotsford
  • China
  • Romantic orientalism
  • Sino-British cultural relation
  • Wallpaper
  • Walter scott

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