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This paper is an attempt to investigate how Lu Ji and Liu Xie develop their theories of literary creation on the foundation of the early philosophical discourse on language and reality. The first part of the paper examines various key terms, concepts, and paradigms developed in the philosophical discourse. The second part pursues a close reading of Lu’s and Liu’s texts to demonstrate how ingeniously they adapt and integrate those terms, concepts, and paradigms to accomplish two important tasks: to establish a broad framework for conceptualizing literary creation and to differentiate the complex mental and linguistic endeavors at different stages of the creative process. The paper ends with some general reflections on the impact of the two essays on the subsequent development of Chinese literary and aesthetic thoughts.

In: Frontiers of Literary Studies in China
Authors: and


Invented in sixteenth-century Europe, the “ideographic myth”—the notion that all Chinese written characters are pictorial—has long been used either to romanticize or denigrate Chinese language and culture compared to those of the West. This article examines the many incarnations of this myth spanning more than half a century: from the Fenollosa-Poundian theory of the Chinese character and Ezra Pound’s reformulation of his Vorticist-Imagist ideals in the early twentieth century to the Imagist influence on modern Chinese poetry in the 1910s–1920s, and Sinologists’ reinterpretations of traditional Chinese poetry in the 1970s. Originated from Xu Shen’s 許慎 (30–124) Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 (Explanations of Simple and Compound Characters) in China, indiscreet ideogrammic explanations of Chinese characters made their way first to Japan, then through Fenollosa and Pound to the United States, and then back to China, marking the beginning of the age of international travel as well as a new model of cultural connectivity not limited to geographic boundaries. As an interesting case from a cultural export to a cultural import, the pictorial myth reinvented by Fenollosa and Pound, together with its incarnations, turned out to be beneficial to all cultures involved along its rapid but complex route of transmission. Both insights and errors arising therefrom not only helped modernist poets revolutionize their poetry in both China and the West but also inspired Sinologists to reinterpret traditional Chinese poetry from the perspective of the Chinese written character, especially the primacy of its sound.

In: The Western Reinvention of Chinese Literature, 1910-2010
Editors: and
Chinese Texts in the World publishes scholarly works on the reception, transmission, assimilation, and reinvention of Chinese texts in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas; as well as critical studies that explore new pathways connecting Chinese texts with today’s world.
Whether Chinese texts were transmitted along the ancient Silk Road, or through modern digital technologies, such well-traveled texts hold great promise for illuminating multiple aspects of China’s cultural relations with the world. The same holds true for the examination how reconfigured Chinese texts made their way back to China, to be reconstituted as culturally polyvalent, hybrid “imports”.
Critical studies explore new ways of engaging Chinese texts with non-Chinese intellectual and cultural traditions. Such studies include, but are not limited to, a traditional textually grounded Sinological work that contains a substantive dialogue with for instance Western texts; a collaborative work by Asia-based and non-Asia-based scholars on the critical issues important to different traditions; and even a work on non-Chinese texts as long as it significantly draws insights from or engages a substantive dialogue with the Chinese traditions.

Authors are cordially invited to submit proposals to the publisher at BRILL, Christa Stevens.
Please advise our Guidelines for a Book Proposal. Manuscripts that are published have been accepted after double-anonymous peer review.

Volume Editors: and
During much of China’s tumultuous 20th century, May 4th and Maoist iconoclasts regarded their classical literary heritage as a burden to be dislodged in the quest for modernization. This volume demonstrates how the traditions that had deeply impressed earlier generations of Western writers like Goethe and Voltaire did not lose their lustre; to the contrary, a fascination with these past riches sprouted with renewed vigour among Euro-American poets, novelists, and other cultural figures after the fall of imperial China in 1911. From Petrograd to Paris, and from São Paolo to San Francisco, China’s premodern poetry, theatre, essays, and fiction inspired numerous prominent writers and intellectuals. The contributors survey the fruits of this engagement in multiple Western languages and nations.
In: History Retold
Premodern Chinese Texts in Western Translation
Volume Editors: and
This collected volume focuses on the history of Western translation of premodern Chinese texts from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Divided into three parts, nine chapters feature close readings of translated texts, micro-studies of how three translations came into being, and broad-based surveys that inquire into the causes of historical change. Among the specific questions addressed are: What stylistic, generic, and discursive permutations were undergone by Chinese texts as they crossed linguistic borders? Who were the main agents in this centuries-long effort to transmit Chinese culture to the West? How did readership considerations affect the form that particular translations take? More generally, the contributors are concerned with the relevance of current research paradigms, like those of World Literature, transcultural reception, and the rewriting of translation history.