Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/15718
Title: The Cruel Imagination: Oriental Tortures from a Future Past in Albert Robida’s Illustrations for La Guerre infernale (1908)
Authors: Iannuzzi, Giulia
Keywords: Albert RobidaPierre GiffardLa Guerre infernaleethnic stereotypesOriental crueltyYellow PerilSino-European relationsWestern knowledge of Chinaearly science fiction
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Giulia Iannuzzi, "The Cruel Imagination: Oriental Tortures from a Future Past in Albert Robida’s Illustrations for La Guerre infernale (1908)", in: Guido Abbattista (edited by), "Law, Justice and Codification in Qing China. European and Chinese Perspectives. Essays in History and Comparative Law", Trieste, EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2017, pp. 193-212.
Abstract: 
It was for a planned future section of his war museum entitled “Storia dell’avvenirismo
– Precursori della Futurologia” (“The History of Futurism – The Forerunners of Futurology)
that in 1957 Diego de Henriquez, ex-soldier and passionate collector, bought fifteen
of Albert Robida’s original sketches for Pierre Giffard’s La Guerre infernale (1908)
from a bookstand in Rome. Of these original illustrations (today at the Civico Museo di
guerra per la pace “Diego de Henriquez” of the City of Trieste), eight are reproduced in
Law, Justice and Codification in Qing China. Accompanying and drawing on their publication,
this essay critically assesses Giffard and Robida’s work, outlining precedents and
coeval trends as regards the representation of Chinese tortures and the Yellow Peril in
early science fiction and Western public discourse.
La Guerre infernale is an early work of science fiction which offers, today, a graphic
example of the collective imagery of coeval times related to future wars and technologies,
Chinese punishments and atrocities, and fears of the Yellow Peril. By 1908, the theme
of Chinese torture, and the topos of Oriental cruelty was not unprecedented in Robida’s
work, nor was it an isolated case in popular French and Western publications. Be that as
it may (and perhaps precisely because it taps into broader cultural currents), the clash, in
La Guerre infernale, between ethnic stereotypes, which informed the representation of
Oriental brutality and sadism, and visions of a future driven by technological progress,
offers a unique vantage point from which to observe and critically assess Sino-Western
cultural relationships at the dawn of the Twentieth century (or at the end of a “long”
Nineteenth century).
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10077/15718
ISBN: 978-88-8303-842-6
eISBN: 978-88-8303-843-3
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:Law, Justice and Codification in Qing China. European and Chinese Perspectives. Essays in History and Comparative Law

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