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Literary Openness: A Bridge across the Divide between Chinese and Western Literary Thought

Literary Openness: A Bridge across the Divide between Chinese and Western Literary Thought LITERARY OPENNESS/113 The Rise of Literary Openness in China To speak of a literary text as “open” is to assert that it is not an enclosure of words whose messages are finite and limited, but a hermeneutic space whose verbal signs are capable of generating unlimited interpretations. It means that a literary text has no “correct” interpretation, or has multiple interpretations. This theoretical concept is perhaps most often associated with Umberto Eco’s Opera aperta (Open Work), published in 1962, but in the Chinese tradition the idea can be traced back to high antiquity, where it emerged from two major sources: metaphysical inquiries into the universe and interpretive practices applied to canonical texts. In the metaphysical inquiry into literary openness, the Chinese tradition had an earlier start than the West. As early as the fourth century B.C., there appeared in the appended verbalizations to the Yijing, also known as the Zhouyi or Book of Changes, a famous saying, which has since become a household word for rationalizing different interpretations of the same text or phenomenon: “[In the interpretation of the Dao,] a benevolent person who sees it will say that it is benevolent; a wise person who sees it http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

Literary Openness: A Bridge across the Divide between Chinese and Western Literary Thought

Comparative Literature , Volume 55 (2) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-55-2-112
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

LITERARY OPENNESS/113 The Rise of Literary Openness in China To speak of a literary text as “open” is to assert that it is not an enclosure of words whose messages are finite and limited, but a hermeneutic space whose verbal signs are capable of generating unlimited interpretations. It means that a literary text has no “correct” interpretation, or has multiple interpretations. This theoretical concept is perhaps most often associated with Umberto Eco’s Opera aperta (Open Work), published in 1962, but in the Chinese tradition the idea can be traced back to high antiquity, where it emerged from two major sources: metaphysical inquiries into the universe and interpretive practices applied to canonical texts. In the metaphysical inquiry into literary openness, the Chinese tradition had an earlier start than the West. As early as the fourth century B.C., there appeared in the appended verbalizations to the Yijing, also known as the Zhouyi or Book of Changes, a famous saying, which has since become a household word for rationalizing different interpretations of the same text or phenomenon: “[In the interpretation of the Dao,] a benevolent person who sees it will say that it is benevolent; a wise person who sees it

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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