The Classic and Creativity: A Study in Chinese and Western Comparative Poetics in the Age of World Literature


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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  • Zhuyu JIANG

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Awarding Institution
Award date7 Sep 2015


The classic and creativity have always had a paradoxical relationship with each other. The classic nurtures creativity. Yet the classic may also impede creativity. Such a paradoxical relationship between the classic and creativity is revealed and supported by the discussion in both Chinese and Western literary criticism. Although the relationship between the classic and creativity is paradoxical, Chinese and Western ideas in expounding it are consistent. In fact, to compare discussions from Chinese and Western literary criticism and to correlate them is not only to answer and elaborate on an important question in literary studies but also to make different cultures connect and communicate with each other, which is more illuminating and constructive in this age of world literature. Such comparison and correlation serve as a rebuttal against attempts and claims that dichotomize and even downgrade cultures and literatures in this age of world literature.
Although the paradoxical relationship between the classic and creativity has been adequately analyzed and supported by the arguments made by literary critics from different cultures, some still deliberately ignore it and only partially recognize and emphasize one aspect of it. The classic, for example, is sometimes reduced to a biased “means of discrimination” that suppresses and eliminates creativity. However, sometimes creativity can also be so eccentric that the classic which is altered by such creativity loses its original and fundamental meanings and values.
In this age when world literature ascends and prospers, the relationship between the classic and creativity becomes more complicated. The classic is not only examined by creativity from its own domestic culture but also by that from foreign cultures. Creativity not only communicates with the classics that come from the same culture but also challenges the classics from a global perspective with insights gained from other cultures. Adaptations, footnotes and translations, for example, are all tunnels through which the classic and creativity are connected. Creative adaptations that assimilate foreign classics into a domestic environment and footnotes which interpret the classics with individual creativity reflect how the classic and creativity interact and wrestle with each other in this age of world literature.