The Far East and the English Imagination, 1600-1730

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In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries China, Japan and the Spice Islands dazzled the English imagination as insatiable markets for European goods, and as vast, inexhaustible storehouses of spices and luxury wares. Robert Markley explores the significance of attitudes to the wealth and power of East Asia in rethinking conceptions of national and personal identity in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century English literature. Alongside works by canonical English authors, this study examines the writings of Jesuit missionaries, Dutch merchants, and English and continental geographers, who directly contended with the challenges that China and Japan posed to visions of western cultural and technological superiority. Questioning conventional Eurocentric histories, in this 2006 book Markley examines the ways in which the writings of Milton, Dryden, Defoe and Swift deal with the complexities of a world in which England was marginalised and which, until 1800, was dominated - economically at least - by the empires of the Far East.