W. Somerset Maugham and the Politicisation of the Chinese Landscape
In her investigation into the changing literary response to and examination of imperialism during the 1920s and the phenomenon of the rise of the colonial anti-hero, Barbara Bush cites Graham Greene, George Orwell and W. Somerset Maugham as three of the most influential authors of the period who helped perpetuate the Westâ€™s re-examination of the idea of colonialism (84). Indeed, with such memorable works as â€œShooting an Elephant,â€Â The Quiet AmericanÂ andÂ The Painted Veil, together with the abundance of scholarships that address and redress this topic, the importance of these writers to the development of post-colonialism in literature during the early twentieth century cannot be denied. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to this ongoing discussion by focusing on W. Somerset Maugham and his use of the Chinese landscape as a means to forward his views on this issue. In particular, I wish to pay attention to the significance of landscape depiction in his narratives and consider its relevance to our understanding of Maugham as an imperialist/anti-imperialist writer within the framework of conventional Saidian Orientalism.
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