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Contemporary Chinese Aesthetics


Edited By Zhu Liyuan and Gene Blocker

This book is a collection of translations of recent work by contemporary Chinese aestheticians. Because of the relative isolation of China until recently, little is known of this rich and ongoing aesthetics tradition in China. Although some of the articles are concerned with the traditional ancient Chinese theories of art and beauty, many are inspired by Western aesthetics, including Marxism, and all are involved in cross-cultural comparisons of Chinese and Western aesthetic traditions.


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Comparing Chinese and Western Poetry: Zhu Guangqian 13


Comparing Chinese and Western Poetry Zhu Guangqian The appeal of poetry varies according to time and place, and the poetry of each country and age has its own special characteristics. Comparing Chinese and Western poetry, for example, we fmd many interesting similarities and differences, which may be grouped into several broad topics. The most important of these are (1) human relationships, (2) nature, (3) religion and philosophy. We shall discuss these three topics in tum. Most Western poetry about relationships between people centers on love. Although there are many Chinese poems on love, this does not outweigh all other relationships. Friendship between equals and the relationship between prince and minister are not very important themes in Western poetry, but in Chinese poetry they occupy a position almost equal to love. To take away the emotions of loyalty, patriotism and humanitarianism from the poetry of Qu Yuan, Du Fu and Lu You would be to deprive it of its most characteristic traits. It was the custom of critics in the past to read into love poetry a message of loyalty or patriotism. For instance, ancient commentaries on the Book of Songs regarded many poems about sexual love as political satires. Of course, this procedure sometimes gave rise to rather forced interpretations. Recently some critics have gone to the opposite extreme, imposing love themes on genuinely patriotic poems. For instance, works like the Li Sao are regarded by some critics as love poems. This also seems to me a forced reading. Scholars...

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