The Manchu Invasion of Britain: Nomadic Resonances in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Chinoiserie Aesthetics, and Material Culture

  • Laurence Williams
Part of the New Transculturalisms, 1400–1800 book series (NETRANS)


This chapter explores the status of “Tartary” in the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century literary imagination, with reference to works by Penelope Aubin, William Chambers, John Gilbert Cooper, Daniel Defoe, Nicholas Rowe, and Laurence Sterne. I show how this pseudo-mythical space, stretching from the borders of Eastern Europe to the Great Wall of China, becomes associated with a distinctive “nomadic” aesthetic, figuratively connected with chaos, hubris, madness, or political transgression. The concluding section, discussing Thomas De Quincey and later nineteenth-century travelers including George Fowler, shows how, under the later influence of British imperialism in the Middle East and Central Asia, the trope of the horseback “Tartar” journey becomes gradually reimagined as an increasingly aestheticized and controlled idea of movement, threading together romanticized images of the East.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurence Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Sophia UniversityTokyoJapan

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