National Self-Critique Prompted by Immersion in (An)Other Culture: Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, Xu Zhimo, and Pearl Buck

King-Kok Cheung


"Three writers connected across the Atlantic and Pacific produced cogent critiques of their native countries in part as a result of their immersion in other cultures, which provided them with critical distance from which to observe domestic mores and policies.... All three writers were nonconformists in their own countries who identified acutely with overseas people and places. Dickinson was gay at a time when homosexuality was outlawed in England; Xu launched the first modern divorce in China; and Buck was subject to a witch hunt in 1933.... when alarming nationalist ideologies are on the rise in Asia, Europe, and the Americas, it might behoove us to revisit three generously open-minded writers whose sympathy and empathy for the “other” allowed them to become staunch critics of the ideologies of their own countries: Britain, China, and the United States, respectively."

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