Abstract

This article reads William Marsden’s 1818 translation of The Travels of Marco Polo as representative of literary contributions to nineteenth-century British Sinology. Compensating for Britons’ circumscribed Chinese knowledge before the first Opium War, Sinologists reconfigured extant knowledge into ostensibly cohesive accounts of Chinese cultural history, thereby creating the illusion of informational mastery. In his Marco Polo, Marsden relies on anachronistic Chinese scholarship to inform his translation. In particular, his annotations manipulate Britons’ finite knowledge of China into a seemingly comprehensive history that represents China as culturally stagnant. Marsden’s paratexts transform Polo’s travelogue into scholarship that advances both Sinology’s disciplinary maturation and Anglo-Sino relations.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 515-537
Launched on MUSE
2016-08-03
Open Access
No
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