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Good Dragons are Rare

An Inquiry into Literary Dragons East and West


Edited By Fanfan Chen and Thomas Honegger

Dragons are a universal phenomenon and have fascinated humans since the dawn of time. Yet whereas we have numerous studies into the origins of these fantastic creatures, there have been very few attempts at discussing their appearance, function and development within literary texts. The eighteen essays collected in this volume (8 in French, 6 in German and 4 in English) – written by an international cast of scholars – try to fill this gap by looking at dragons in literature East and West, contemporary and past.


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From the Western Poeticisation of Falkor and Temeraire to the Imaginary of Chinese Dragons 359


From the Western Poeticisation of Falkor and Temeraire to the Imaginary of Chinese Dragons Fanfan Chen Summary While Chinese academia consider to ‘de-dragonise China’ on account of the dragon’s evil image in the West, Western writers are enchanted and inspired by this imaginary creature and make it their fictional character, even hero. To certain writers such as Ende and Novik, Chinese dragons seem to work as catalysts for revisiting their own treasures of dragon narratives. This article attempts to analyse the poeticisation of Ende’s Luckdragon Falkor and Novik’s Temeraire so as to explore the imaginary of Chinese dragons from the aspects of origins, textual research, typology, morphology and mythology. “Dragons are too good to be ‘good’ in Chinese literature” The proposal from Chinese academia in 2006 to “de-dragonise China” so as to rebuild China’s image seemed to create ripples of debates on the Chinese long 1 and the Western dragon as well as on the ‘original sin’ of translation. The ration- ale for renouncing the ‘dragon’ as Chinese symbol lies in its derogatory conno- tations correlative to evil and devil in the West. For certain writers, the divine totem of long reveals China’s narrow patriotic emotion: The blanket application of long indicates that Chinese people lack imagination and reason (Chen Xi); the perfect symbolism of the dragon totem would hinder us from confronting our dark side and flaws (Wang Xiaoyu); the dragon is in reality only a symbol for Chinese emperors, which is not entitled to represent the entire Chinese...

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