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Complexities of writing a Chinese based historical novel in English

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A paucity of authentic historical works on ancient China may present difficulties for writers of Chinese based novels in English amid claims that many of these novels do not or rarely include reconstruction of, for example, manners, speech, customs and atmosphere, thereby failing to effectively bring the reader into the period concerned. While the novelist faces other problems in addressing the many complexities of attempting to recreate aspects of the historical period, such as language and mood, these may be overcome by incorporating actual settings, events and characters with the fictional – a fusion of elements of historical romance with realism. From a review of the relevant literature, this chapter will identify and address the main complexities in researching and writing an original historical romance novel about ancient China, and will suggest a methodology and recommendations for further research and experimentation in capturing the atmosphere, mood and imagery of the dynastic setting while simplifying the contemporary language and its nuances. The fact that such a novel may be infected to some degree by Western “Orientalism” is acknowledged and addressed.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)



Knight BA; Walker-Gibbs B; Delamoir J

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Post Pressed

Place of Publication

Teneriffe, Qld

Open Access


Era Eligible


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