Goldsmith: The Irish Expat in London as Chinese Philosopher

  • Michael O’Sullivan
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


This chapter examines the work of Oliver Goldsmith in the context of Irish expatriatism and the problem of English. Goldsmith was something of a nomad in his early career until he came to lodge in somewhat impoverished surroundings in London. However, he recognised early on that there would be no career for him in Letters if he stayed in Ireland. Working from his garret in London, Goldsmith became a master of role-playing and ventriloquism, assuming the voice of an English country gentleman in “The Deserted Village” and of a “Chinaman” in The Citizen of the World. This chapter examines Goldsmith’s masks in the context of the eighteenth-century interest in chinoiserie, while also interrogating recent Asian readings of his orientalism that completely overlook Goldsmith’s Irishness.


Oliver Goldsmith Expatriatism Orientalism China Masks 

Works Cited

Works Cited

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  2. Jones, Sir William. “On the Hindus”, the Third Anniversary Discourse, delivered by the President, 2 February 1786, Asiatic Researches 1: 415–31.Google Scholar
  3. Pang, Laikwan. The Art of Cloning: Creative Production During China’s Cultural Revolution. London: Verso, 2017.Google Scholar
  4. Wu, Liwei. When the Noah’s Ark encounters China’s three sovereigns: Debates on ancient Chinese history during the Enlightenment in Europe. Beijing: The Renmin University of China Press, 2005.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael O’Sullivan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishChinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong

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