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China in a book: Victorian representations of the 'celestial kingdom' in William Dalton’s 'The wolf boy of China'

Chen, Shih-Wen (Sue) 2011, China in a book: Victorian representations of the 'celestial kingdom' in William Dalton’s 'The wolf boy of China', Papers: explorations into children's literature, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-18.

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Title China in a book: Victorian representations of the 'celestial kingdom' in William Dalton’s 'The wolf boy of China'
Author(s) Chen, Shih-Wen (Sue)ORCID iD for Chen, Shih-Wen (Sue) orcid.org/0000-0002-4110-7985
Journal name Papers: explorations into children's literature
Volume number 21
Issue number 1
Start page 1
End page 18
Total pages 18
Publisher Deakin University
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2011
ISSN 1034-9243
1837-4530
Keyword(s) China
Victorian children's literature
Edwardian children's literature
late nineteenth-century
wolf boy of China
William Dalton
empire
Summary Despite the wealth of material related to China in Victorian and Edwardian children’s literature, relatively few scholarly works have been published on the subject. Critics who have discussed the topic have tended to emphasize the negative discourse and stereotypical images of the Chinese in late nineteenth-century children’s literature. I use the case of William Dalton’s The Wolf Boy of China (1857), one of the earliest full-length Victorian children’s novels set in China, to complicate previous generalizations about negative representations of China and the Chinese and to highlight the unpredictable nature of child readers’ reactions to a text. First, in order to trace the complicated process of how information about the country was disseminated, edited, framed, and translated before reaching Victorian and Edwardian readers, I analyse how Dalton wove fragments from his reading of a large archive of texts on China into his novel.
Although Dalton may have preserved and transmitted some ‘factual’ information about China from his sources, he also transformed material that he read in innovative ways. These are reflected in the more subversive and radical parts of the novel, which are discussed in the second part of the essay. In the final section, I provide examples of historical readers of The Wolf Boy of China to challenge the notion that children passively accept the imperialist messages in books of empire.
Language eng
Field of Research 200503 British and Irish Literature
Socio Economic Objective 950203 Languages and Literature
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30061094

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Communication and Creative Arts
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Created: Thu, 27 Feb 2014, 11:33:30 EST by Sue Chen

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