The Fall of the God of Money: Opium Smoking in Nineteenth-century China

Voorkant
Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 - 249 pagina's
In this first truly cross-cultural study of opium, Keith McMahon considers the perspectives of both smokers and non-smokers from China and the Euro-West and from both sides of the issue of opium prohibition. The author stages a dramatic confrontation between the Chinese opium user and the Euro-Westerner who saw in opium the image of an uncanny Asiatic menace. Opium was inextricably bound up with generalizations made about teeming Asiatic masses, nightmarish opium sots, effeminate Chinamen, and orientalized white women. In China, opium--called the Western Drug--was tied to the arrival of Christianity and Western greed. The rise of the opium demon meant the fall of the god of money, that is, Chinese money, and the irreversible trend in which Confucianism gave way to Christianity. McMahon makes the case for opium smoking as a way of life that, far from being merely wanton, was an entirely reasonable choice in times when smokers could be neither Christian nor Confucian. Opium smoking was a way of inhabiting an era in which traditional loyalties were in critical transition. The author convincingly demonstrates that the current laws against drugs of addiction have their origins in this early modern conflict of cultures and not in any supposed scientific evidence that opium is so definitively worse than alcohol. The book explores early Western observations of opium smoking, the formation of arguments for and against the legalization of opium, the portrayals of opium smoking in Chinese poetry and prose, and scenes of opium-smoking interactions among male and female smokers and smokers of all social levels in 19th-century China. By providing the first translation ever of a unique 1878 autobiography of a Chinese addict, McMahon is able to explore the opium smoker's own observations on China and opium smoking. No other studies have focused attention so richly on opium smokers, their language, the scenes of their smoking together, their gendered interactions, and their relations with family and society.
 

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Inhoudsopgave

Introduction to Western Smoke
1
A Short History of Opium Smoking in China
33
Westerners Intercourse with China
45
Westerners on Opium and the Chinese
69
Zhang Changjias Yanhua Opium Talk 1878
105
Eaten by Wild Dogs Opium in Late Qing Fiction
139
Why the Chinese Smoked Opium
175
Yanhua Opium Talk
193
List of Characters
217
Bibliography
225
Index
235
About the Author
Copyright

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Over de auteur (2002)

Keith McMahon is professor and chair of the East Asian Languages and Cultures Department at the University of Kansas.

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