Classical World Literatures: Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman by Wiebke Denecke

By Wiebke Denecke

Ever because Karl Jaspers's "axial age" paradigm, there were a couple of influential stories evaluating old East Asian and Greco-Roman background and tradition. notwithstanding, so far there was no comparative research related to a number of literary traditions in those cultural spheres. This e-book compares the dynamics among the more youthful literary cultures of Japan and Rome and the literatures in their venerable predecessors, China and Greece. How have been writers of the more youthful cultures of Rome and Japan suffering from the presence of an older "reference culture," whose sophistication they favorite, while they anxiously strove to say their very own particular identification? How did they take on the problem of adopting the reference culture's literary genres, rhetorical refinement, and conceptual vocabulary for writing texts in numerous languages and inside of specified political and cultural contexts?

Classical international Literatures captures the impressive similarities among the methods early jap authors wrote their very own literature via and opposed to the literary precedents of China, and the methods Latin writers engaged and contested Greek precedents. however it additionally brings to gentle suggestive divergences which are rooted in geopolitical, linguistic, sociohistorical, and aesthetic ameliorations among early jap and Roman literary cultures. featuring a strategy of "deep comparability" for the cross-cultural comparability of premodern literary cultures and calling for a variety of worldwide literature debates into the traditional and medieval worlds, Classical global Literatures is either a theoretical intervention and a call for participation to learn and re-read 4 significant literary traditions in an cutting edge and illuminating mild.

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Now it is time to lay the foundations for the more specific case studies and to take a closer look at fundamental similarities and dissimilitudes of the two cultural constellations that are the focus of this book. indd 19 | 19 10/12/2013 8:03:04 PM CHAPTER 1 Setting the Stage Sino-Japanese and Greco-Roman Constellations 1. Foreground: Approximations Starting Late At least three fundamental similarities between the literary cultures of early Japan and Rome encourage their comparison. First, both Japanese and Roman literatures were jumpstarted based on Chinese and Greek literary precedents, which served as sophisticated models for script, lexical borrowings, rhetorical sophistication, and a great variety of literary genres and verse meters.

Some of them studied in China for many years and were a costly burden for the Japanese court. It is true that after the ninth century, when the Fujiwara clan came to dominate government posts at court, studying at the State Academy became less attractive, because it ceased to be a venue for obtaining high office. Therefore, private tutoring at home or in the schools sponsored by the hereditary scholarly families such as the Sugawara and the Ōe became the norm. However, throughout the Heian Period the Academy retained its symbolic significance as the locus of the commitment of the Japanese imperial court to Confucian learning and its foundational importance to Japanese society: the semiannual ritual observances to Confucius (sekiten ㉼ ᅋ ) were held in the Academy, its professors gave lectures on Chinese texts for the emperor at court, and together with their 8 The topos of the contempt for elementary writing teachers and grammarians might also play into Suetonius’s judgment of Livius Andronicus and Ennius.

Let us start on our course. Chapter 1 lays the foundations for our comparison of Japanese and Roman literary cultures. It discusses three fundamental similarities between them and three divergences that complicate our comparison. Both literary cultures were latecomers vis-à-vis their reference culture’s; due to their belatedness they started against the backdrop of highly sophisticated stages of literary production—Chinese Six Dynasties and Early Tang literature for Japan, and Hellenistic literature for Rome; and their education systems were based on the adoption and adaption of the literary canon developed by scholars of their 15 Martindale and Thomas 2006, 13.

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