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Date 2021-04-27


“Faithful Representations of Such Places”: Charles Le Gendre’s Formosan Landscapes (1868-1875)


Douglas Fix

Li, Hsiao-Ting (Translator)

Professor, History Department, Reed College


This article attempts to analyze the 19th-century “Formosan landscapes” sketched by Charles Wm. Le Gendre (U.S. consul for Amoy) in his consular reports and illustrated manuscript entitled Notes of travel in Formosa. Although Le Gendre provided detailed descriptions of Taiwan's territorial space, agricultural production, and commercial potential in his writings, this was only one aspect of his larger perspective. By focusing on Le Gendre's portrayals of space in northern, central and extreme southern Taiwan, I attempt to understand the entirety of Le Gendre's “Formosan landscapes.” This perspective includes detailed analyses of Le Gendre's textual landscapes, as well as his maps, topographical sketches, geological sections, and photographic prints. From this broader analysis, we are able to better apprehend Le Gendre's multiple(and sometimes contradictory) perspectives of a single landscape, and to fully understand the techniques and discourses he employed to render his “faithful representations of such places.”

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Bulletin of Taiwanese Literature