Thursday, September 30, 2010

Visit to Oxford by the first Chinese ambassador to UK

In a Chinese book, From China to Oxford, can be found the travel diary of Guo Songtao (郭嵩焘 1818-91), the first Chinese ambassador to the UK (1877-79) (and the first ever Chinese ambassador) when he visited Oxford on Nov 28-29, 1877. He visited Magdalen, All Souls, Christ Church, and the Bodleian Library. He also attended a lecture by James Legge (1815-97), since 1876 the first Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Oxford, at the Sheldonian Theatre. The diary showed that Guo knew almost nothing about British universities before the visit, and probably learned little of any depth after. All that he recorded are the most mundane and superficial of factoids. (I did not find any indication that Guo ever learned any foreign language.)

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