Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff

Overall Rating: 5
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Author: Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff
Title: Bericht über drei Reisen in den Seeprovinzen Chinas [Journal of Three Voyages along the Coast of China]
Time: 1831-1833
Destination: mostly China
Length: 2 years
Type: by ship
Rating: 5/10

The missionary

The story: Just prior to the outbreak of the first Opium War between Great Britain and the Empire of the Qing, German lutheran missionary KFAG boards a British ship and goes on a few trips around the shores of the Chinese Sea. Obviously, he intends to spread his religious belief among the Chinese population.

good observing skills, annoying attitude

The resulting book is an okay read. There were some parts that I didn’t like: rantings about religion (repetitive, even if you’re a missionary) and weird military observations (out of place, unless you’re a spy). But KFAG has a very good eye for some of the social and political ongoings around him, and some of his statements about the local population and their political representatives are still surprisingly valid today (while others, of course, have totally changed).

Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff – a 19th century missionary

If you want to find out about some of the difficulties between Europeans and Chinese in the first half of the 19th century, then this might be an interesting book for you. But don’t come looking for an adventure story!


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