Cui Malo? Cui Bono? Reflections on a Literary Forgery: The Case of The Memoirs of Li Hung Chang
- Partial Answers: Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 19, Number 1, January 2021
- pp. 19-34
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This paper is concerned with the intersection between ideological influence, epistemology, and Orientalism. In 1913, an American named William Francis Mannix claimed to have edited a memoir based on the diary of the famous Chinese statesman, Li Hongzhang. The Memoirs of Li Hung Chang was a success in America and Britain, with expert sinologists praising its contributions. When the memoir was exposed as a forgery, some readers struggled to explain its success by the perceived verisimilitude of the work. By taking a closer look at Mannix's book, this paper considers the concept of truth, knowledge construction and dissemination, as well as the role of cultural and ideological presuppositions that shape our understandings.