Five Questions: Chris Murray on China from the Ruins of Athens and Rome

By Matthew Sangster

Chris Murray is a Lecturer in Literary Studies at Monash University. He works on literature of the (very) long nineteenth century, with particular interests in Romanticism, Orientalism, Irish Studies, the receptions of the Classics and notions of interdisciplinarity. His first book, Tragic Coleridge (which we discussed here) was published in 2013; in 2018, he published Crippled Immortals, a work of narrative non-fiction about martial arts. His new monograph, China from the Ruins of Athens and Rome: Classics, Sinology, and Romanticism, 1793-1938, which we discuss below, was recently published by Oxford University Press.

1) How did you come to realise you wanted to write a book on the nexus between Classics, Sinology and Romanticism?

At first I thought I had set aside classical reception, a focus of my earlier research, in favour of Chinese culture, which had long been a personal interest and which led me to Singapore as a postdoc. But the Anglophone texts I read on Chinese subjects kept alluding to Graeco-Roman antiquity in a number of ways. It seemed inadequate to me that existing theories of how the West gazes at the East disregarded the fact that there is intervening matter which …read more