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Echoes of Victorian Hellenism in Mid‑Nineteenth‑Century China

Joseph Edkins’ Recurring Column “Western Literature” (Xixue shuo 西學說) in the Journal Liuhe congtan 六合叢談 (Shanghae Serial)

Sebastian Eicher    Institut für Sinologie, München    



In the mid‑nineteenth century, the missionaries of the London Missionary Society founded the journal Liuhe congtan 六合叢談. Its varied contents included a recurring column titled “Western Literature” in English and Xixue shuo 西學說 (Explanations on Western learning) in Chinese. The section’s editor, Joseph Edkins, used it to inform Chinese readers about Greco‑Roman antiquity and its most important thinkers and writers. The role of literature in the spread of Western learning to China has not yet received much attention. This paper will analyse Edkins’ columns, his motives for writing them, and the topics he considered worthy of publication. This will give us insight into the cultural strategies the missionaries adopted in the era between the Opium Wars and also shed some light on the development of terms like Western Learning, philosophy and literature.

30 Giugno 2022
20 Aprile 2022
02 Marzo 2022

Keywords: Western learningLondon Missionary SocietyShanghaiJoseph EdkinsMissionary journals

Copyright: © 2022 Sebastian Eicher. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.