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Unexpected Affinities

Unexpected Affinities: Reading Across Cultures

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 128
  • Book Info
    Unexpected Affinities
    Book Description:

    East-West comparative literature is a field of study that has seen tremendous growth in recent years. In this pioneering study, renowned scholar Zhang Longxi offers a much-needed reappraisal of the thematic and conceptual similarities that unite literary and cultural traditions in the East and West.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8508-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Zhang Longxi
  4. CHAPTER ONE The Fallacy of Cultural Incommensurability
    (pp. 3-26)

    More than seventy years ago, Major General Lionel Charles Dunsterville, a veteran British officer long serving in India, who was also the first president of the Kipling Society, read a paper to that society in London and subsequently published it in the June 1933 issue of theKipling Journal. In that paper Dunsterville commented on Kipling’s views of India and the East and, with a sense of proud camaraderie, told his audience that Kipling had been ‘an unswerving advocate of what we call, for want of a better word, Imperialism.’¹ For Kipling and Dunsterville, imperialism was not something to be...

  5. CHAPTER TWO ‘Faire une perle d’une larme’: Reading across Cultures
    (pp. 29-60)

    In the first chapter I tried to show that cultural incommensurability contradicts itself in having advocates making the same argument on both sides of the East-West divide, while according to that very argument, mentalities, ideas, and propositions East and West are supposed to be fundamentally different and mutually exclusive. My intention was to clear the way for East-West studies, and having done so, I would like now to go into discussions of literary themes across East and West, to engage in what I call textual and cultural encounters through concrete examples.

    My first example is drawn from personal experience in...

  6. CHAPTER THREE ‘Within the infant rind of this weak flower’: The Ambivalence of Poison and Medicine
    (pp. 63-92)

    Sometimes the pleasure of reading across cultures is a sense of discovery, the pleasure of finding unexpected affinities of ideas and expressions in different texts. The greater the difference, the more surprising and more satisfying the affinities will be. It is like bouncing texts and ideas against one another to see what will happen from such interactions. Texts from East and West differ in many ways, influenced by their specific philosophical, social, and political circumstances, but whatever their difference, texts, as Milton’s Archangel Raphael says of all creatures, are ‘[d]ifferent but in degree, of kind the same’ (Paradise Lost, 5.490)....

  7. CHAPTER FOUR ‘A paradise within thee, happier far’: The Dialectic of Return and Reversal
    (pp. 95-126)

    At the end of the last chapter I mentioned the dialectic of opposite qualities as a basic pattern of movement, a movement in the shape of a reversal that may also be a return. In this chapter I shall further explore this theme and see how it manifests itself in texts of both East and West. To begin with a literary example, I will quote a poem by Emily Dickinson, in which the poet describes the movement of ‘a single bird’ gradually filling up the sky with her ‘cautious melody,’ until the bird and the sky become one, until –


  8. INDEX
    (pp. 127-130)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 131-138)