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Historic China, and Other Sketches

Herbert Allen Giles

Book Overview: 

Herbert Giles was in the diplomatic service in China from 1867 to 1893. His frank observations on Chinese culture and people form the basis of these short essays,

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ul women," "the flesh becoming hard as a stone and sounding like a bell when tapped," "objecting to eat in company," and such diseases have each a special prescription offered by the learned Dr Wang with the utmost gravity, and accepted in good faith by many a confiding patient.

Chinamen look with suspicion on the sober treatment of the West, where no joss-stick is burnt, and no paper money is offered on the altar of some favourite P'u-sa; though, if they knew the whole truth, they would discover that intercessory prayers for the recovery of sick persons are considered by many of us to be of equal importance with the administration of pills and draughts. Further, like our own agricultural classes, they have no faith in medicine of any kind which does not make its presence felt not only quickly but powerfully. This last desire was amply fulfilled in the case of one poor coolie who applied to an acquaintance of ours for some foreign medicine to cure a sick heada. . . Read More

Community Reviews

It's not true or false, right or wrong, good or bad; it's the perspective from a imperialist at his time. It's sad!

Funny because it has this imperialist view of china from awhile foreigners perspective. I particularly liked the line about the Chinese and lying. Something like "all Chinese are filthy liars..." and goes on from there. Although in the end this is actually a defense of the Chinese against even wo...more

This is a very readable series of articles, each discussing a different aspect of Chinese life, such as the position of women, literature, dentistry, dinner parties, etiquette, etc. Mr. Giles pulls no punches. Some parts of Chinese culture he admires: no drunkenness, filial piety, the postal ser...more