2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

Wang Tao Revisited

Yiyi Wu

Ph.D., Princeton University

Studies of Wang Tao started right after his death in 1897 and his life and work have continued to attract scholars ever since. Differing approaches and methods used to evaluate Wang have led to the development of three distinct assessments of his career. At first he was portrayed as an erudite and idiosyncratic individual. Then, he was depicted as an opportunist flirting simultaneously with Taiping revolutionaries, Christian missionaries, and the Qing court. Finally, he was  seen as a pioneer of Westernization in late 19th century China. This paper reviews and evaluates these studies and argues for a comprehensive understanding of the man and of the culture that created him.


Key Words: Wang Tao, modernity, modern history, Westernization