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Britain's Chinese EyeLiterature, Empire, and Aesthetics in Nineteenth-Century Britain$
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Elizabeth Hope Chang

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780804759458

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804759458.001.0001

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(p.23) One Garden
Britain's Chinese Eye
Stanford University Press

This chapter argues for the integration of Chinese ways of seeing nature into conceptions of the British natural world, and charts the ways that improved conditions of plant exchange changed the British conception of the native and natural more generally. This increased ability to transplant Chinese specimens to the British landscape paralleled a shift in the theoretical conception of the British garden. During the eighteenth century, British gardening style depended on Chinese influence enough to be termed jardin anglo-chinois by European observers. But by the mid-nineteenth century, despite the greatly increased presence of Chinese plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas in the British landscape, British garden designers insisted on the native inspiration of their forms. The chapter links a deepening British mistrust of the visual effects used by the Chinese in creating their gardens to a broader British disavowal of the influence of Chinese landscape design. In rejecting the obfuscations of Chinese designs, however, British writers affirmed those designs' grounding logic: that stylized landscape systems relayed real information about a country's political liberties.

Keywords:   nature, British natural world, plant exchange, British gardening, Chinese landscape design

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