Nostalgia imperial : crónicas de viajeros españoles por China (1870-1910)
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Spanish travel writings on China at the end of the 19th century have been largely ignored in the history of literature. Nevertheless, this topic deserves a thorough examination since these texts constitute a particular and important vision of an "Orientalized" country about an Oriental nation during a critical and complicated historical moment. On one hand, Spain was characterized by an irreversible decadence. Thus, in contrast to British and French imperial discourse, which reflects colonial experiences, Spanish travel writings provide a unique perspective from a Western empire that shared a similar fate with the Other: both being traditional and decadent nations. Furthermore, although China was a goal of imperial ambition, it was far less colonized than other regions. As a result, the commanding imperial gaze and fearless exploration were less likely to be cast on China. In addition, despite its general decline, China remained the home of an ancient and highly advanced civilization that still deserved Western respect and offered the West much to learn. Considering these facts, this dissertation consists of a general analysis of Spanish travel literature on China from 1870 to 1910. The primary purposes of the dissertation are to portray the bibliographic genealogy of references on Spanish travelers and their writings on China during this period; to depict their particular vision in which the construct of colonial discourse is transformed into a pretension to recover the lost imperial prestige and an interiorized reflection on Spain's own problems and possible solutions; and to present a fundamental ambivalence or even difficult conciliation between the colonial discourse and its resistance, ideology and utopia, as well as imperialist ambition and national crisis. Spanish travel writings on China consequently become an allegory of imperial nostalgia: a yearning for the imperial power that had vanished, without hope of restoration.