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Open Access Publications from the University of California

National Self-Critique Prompted by Immersion in (An)Other Culture: Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Xu Zhimo, and Pearl Buck

  • Author(s): Cheung, K-K
  • 张敬珏
  • et al.

This essay reveals how three closely related writers looked askance at their native cultures through their visceral identification with foreign cultures. Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a Cambridge don, helped Chinese poet Xu Zhimo enroll as a special student at King’s College, and Xu became lifelong friends of several Bloomsbury members. Pearl Buck admitted that two of her fictional characters were based on Xu, who was widely believed to be the Chinese writer who prevented The Good Earth from being cut by her editor. Dickinson idealized Chinese culture and published a series of articles chastising England for its materialism and gunboat policies toward China. Xu, who admired the British Romantic poets, spoke out against repressive Confucian propriety. Buck, who translated and extolled the Chinese classic Water Margin, wrote scathing critiques about American missionaries and testified against the Chinese Exclusion Acts before Congress.

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