The making of a critical system : concepts of literature in Wenxin diaolong and earlier texts

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Liu Xie’s Wenxin diaolong is often hailed as the most systematic work of literary criticism in premodern China—unrivaled both in its scope and in the richness of its insights. The discussion of Liu Xie’s building of a critical system is one of the most fruitful areas of scholarship in the studies of Wenxin diaolong. However, there is a conspicuous dearth of studies that approach this systematics of traditional Chinese literary criticism. Here I propose to examine Wenxin diaolong with this broad view in mind, focusing on the concept of literature. I will begin by examining three major concepts of literature developed from the earliest times through the Han dynasty, and I will then consider how Liu Xie synthesizes earlier critical concerns and formulates his comprehensive concept of literature. To demonstrate the interrelatedness of these four concepts, I will identify and discuss their common denominator and differentia. Through this interrelatedness, I will argue, we can gain insight into the systematics of traditional Chinese literary criticism as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationA Chinese literary mind : culture, creativity, and rhetoric in Wenxin diaolong
PublisherStanford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780804736183
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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