A Journey to the East

Li Gui's A New Account of a Trip Around the Globe
Charles Desnoyers
Translated with an Introduction by Charles Desnoyers
A record of China's first officially sanctioned eyewitness account of people and places around the world


Li Gui's record of his epic 1876 journey marks China's first officially sanctioned eyewitness account of people and places around the world.

A representative to the U.S. Centennial in Philadelphia, Li Gui went on to style himself as the first Chinese official to circle the globe, and his travel diary offers a revealing window into the Chinese view of the West in the late nineteenth century. As the first full-length English translation of this landmark excursion, A Journey to the East provides a welcome addition to primary source material on this time period.

Li Gui's experiences traveling through the United States offer a unique perspective on the newest technological and urban developments of the day in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., and other major U.S. cities. In his day, these observations on Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, and their colonial possessions helped the Chinese government construct a more accurate picture of imperial power and statecraft abroad. Later, the diary became required reading for reformers and revolutionaries from Li Hongzhang to Mao Zedong.

Li's journal also provides rich material for exploring a number of theoretical issues stemming from the Sino-foreign encounter. He devotes considerable space to debunking the views of his colleagues regarding the importance of technology, finance, and communication. Most striking of all are his thoughts on gender and education, which place him within the ranks of "progressive" thinkers in any nineteenth-century society.

Undoubtedly important to China specialists, A Journey to the East will also appeal to anyone with an interest in American history, Asian studies, world history and Asian-American studies.

Charles Desnoyers is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of History and Director of Asian Studies at La Salle University.

Praise / Awards

  • "Li Gui's meticulous account of what he saw and did during his round-the-world trip iin 1876 makes a splendid addition to our understanding of the late Qing knowledge of the globe. Charles Desnoyers' introduction is also evocative and richly detailed, setting the scene perfectly for his own fluent translation of the original text."
    --Jonathan Spence, Yale University

Look Inside

Copyright © 2004, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted May 2004.

To view PDF files, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. To find out more, please visit http://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/pdf_instructions.jsp.

News, Reviews, Interviews

Read: Book featured in an article on Li Gui on SupChina | 11/17/2021

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 352pp.
  • 1 drawing, 16 photographs, 2 maps, 5 illustrations in a section.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2004
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11354-5

Add to Cart
  • $94.95 U.S.