Images of Asia

Images of Asia

Images of Asia

Images of Asia

Excerpt

Shall be reporting in these pages the results of a rather intensive inquiry into some American ideas and impressions of China and India, and particularly of Chinese and Indians as people. A great deal that has turned up in this exploration of minds is new, or at least newly seen; some of it is bound to be pleasantly or unpleasantly controversial. The bulk of this material was gathered by asking a good many people a great many questions during the course of more than a year. To most of their replies I usually rejoined: "And what do you base that on?" This is at all times a fair question, even if it is not always easy to answer. I assume that interested readers will want to put it to me in my turn. Those who would prefer to pass at once to the substance of my report can turn immediately to the first chapter that follows, where that story begins. But I hope that many will wait to discover first, as precisely as I can state it, the manner of this inquiry and of the people of whom it was made.

The eruption of the "new" facts of China and India in American national life raises, among a few others, this question: What ideas, notions, and images do Americans have in their heads about these hitherto distant lands and peoples? Insofar as they have had to react, what did they have from their past to react with? What new or transformed impressions have begun to take shape out of the swift movements and many impacts of these recent years? The public prints and forums have ballooned with controversy and passion, annoyance, anger, and frustration, with fear and wonder, and even sometimes with near panic over images and events dimly seen in places where most people have scarcely ever looked before. Many could only gape at the uproar, absorbing this or that idea almost as they might breathe in rumors about a visitation from Mars.

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