Visits to famous scenic spots have always been a source of inspiration for Chinese writers of prose and poetry, as is witnessed by many of the essays translated in this special issue. In the late Qing, because of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and many European countries, there appeared for the first time travel essays on European themes. These were written by the first generation of Chinese diplomats posted to Europe. In their description of foreign scenery and customs, these writers frequently draw our attention to the relationship between the practices of foreigners and the strength of their nations, thus reflecting the preoccupation of most intellectuals and government officials of the late Qing.
Li Shuchang (1837-1897), the author of "On Brighton," began his official career as an assistant to Zeng Guofan and later served as a counsellor in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, and Japan. Xue Fucheng (1838-1894), the author of "At a Parisian Oil Painting Exhibition," also served under Zeng Guofan. He was China's ambassador to the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Belgium from 1889 to 1893. Their travel essays describing European cities are representative of the general approach towards this subject matter.
(Renditions: A Chinese-English Translation Magazine , 33-34: 210)
After reading the two brief linked descriptions, compare them to the point of view of Mo's Sour Sweet . What do these earlier texts imply about culture, intertextuality, and class relations?