As far as we know, Milton was first introduced into China in 1832, and Shakespeare in 1839–1840. Why did Milton land in China earlier than Shakespeare? Their different routes of cultural migration into China are largely conditioned by sociohistorical forces. With keener interest in Milton for his identity as a religious poet, the Western missionaries in China cherished Milton's educational value, but were not so interested in literature per se or the entertainment value of Shakespeare. On the other hand, the Chinese educated audience seemed more captivated by the more secular and more spectacular Shakespeare, the quintessence of British cultural imperialism. In China's early reception, Shakespeare was more enjoyed as a storyteller and a dramatist. Unlike Milton, Shakespeare boasted the advantage of the stage, which makes the Bard excel his rival in their visibility in China at the turn of the twentieth century.

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