Hospitality, debt, and the China question: Thomas De Quincey's rhetoric of empire

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For well over a decade and a halt literary critics have been much obsessed with the complex psychology in Thomas Dc Quincey's works. Influenced by postcolonial theory, scholars like John Barrell have also tried to relate De Quincey's personal traumas to his anxieties about the British imperial project. Such interesting studies, however, tend to belittle De Quincey's copious journalistic writings and fail to recognize him as one of the leading essayists of his times. The cruder kind of Leftist scholarship, on the other hand, often attacks his apparently imperialist pieces without bothering to go into any detailed textual analysis. This paper focuses squarely on Dc Quincey's political essays on China, particularly those concerning the two ”Opium Wars.” Exploring his complicated rhetorical moves with reference to such notions as (in-) hospitality, debt, and the ”natural right” of global commerce, I wish 10 demonstrate that De Quincey's rhetoric of empire, though devoid of the subtle psychological mechanisms characterizing his celebrated confessions' of an English Opium-Eater, is equally interesting and worth exploring.
近十多年來不少有關英國十九世紀作家德昆西的研究,都專注於其作品中的複雜心理。受後殖民理論影響的學者,曾探討德昆西的感情創傷跟大英帝國焦慮之間的糾葛。惟這些研究往往忽略了德昆西曾經發表的大量時事論文,亦鮮有重返歷史脈絡來分析這些文章本身的修辭策略。本研究以德昆西數篇有關中國問題的重要論文爲焦點,討論跟好/拒客之道、負債和所謂全球貿易的「天賦櫂利」等主題相關的修辭策略。儘管在這些有關「鴉片戰爭」等社會政治議題的時事評論中,我們並不容易看到在其成名作《英國鴉片煙客告白》裡的複雜情意結,但審視當巾帝國修辭的運作,既呼應晚近後殖民主義和帝國與文學研究的精神,也能令吾人對德昆西的作品有更全面的認識,更可爲相關領域提洪個案參考,故不無深入探討的價值。 Copyright © 2008 中山大學文學院.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-40
JournalSun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


YU, E. K.-W. (2008). Hospitality, debt, and the China question: Thomas De Quincey's rhetoric of empire. Sun Yat-sen Journal of Humanities, 25, 25-40. doi: 10.30095/SYJH.200806.0002


  • Nineteenth-century English literature
  • Orientalism
  • Hospitality
  • Thomas De Quincey
  • Debt
  • Rhetoric of empire
  • 十九世紀英國文學
  • 東方主義
  • 德昆西
  • 待客之道
  • 負債
  • 帝國修辭
  • Alt. title: 待客之道、負債與中國問題:德昆西作品中的帝國修辭


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