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World of Letters

Lu Xun, Benjamin, and Daodejing

Satoru Hashimoto

While the discourse of national literature was fully espoused in modern China, many Chinese classics were transposed into Europe and had a unique impact on European modernist literature. Overshadowed by these oft-discussed dynamics are Chinese modernists’ own engagements with the nation’s classics. Focusing on Daodejing, the foundational work of the Daoist canon, this paper compares Lu Xun’s modernist retelling of the legend of the birth of Daodejing with Walter Benjamin’s commentary on Bertolt Brecht’s poem featuring the same anecdote. This paper argues that both works, by reconstructing the scene of Daodejing’s first inscription, engage with this text in its lost original moment, which precedes any national identification. They open the text up to other configurations, thereby projecting alternative literary worlds. This paper thus questions the dominant conception of world literature as consisting of the circulation of nationally identified works of literature.

Editor-in-Chief Muhsin J. al-Musawi

The Journal of Arabic Literature (JAL) is the leading journal specializing in the study of Arabic literature, ranging from the pre-Islamic period to the present. Founded in 1970, JAL seeks critically and theoretically engaged work at the forefront of the field, written for a global audience comprised of the specialist, the comparatist, and the student alike. JAL publishes literary, critical and historical studies as well as book reviews on Arabic literature broadly understood– classical and modern, written and oral, poetry and prose, literary and colloquial, as well as work situated in comparative and interdisciplinary studies.

NOW AVAILABLE - Online submission: Articles for publication in the Journal of Arabic Literature can be submitted online through Editorial Manager, please click here.

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