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A Comparative Study of Early Poetics of the East and the West: Focused on Maoshixu in China and Plato’s and Aristotle’s Thoughts on Poetry in Ancient Greece

  • The Journal of Chinese Cultural Studies
  • 2018, (41), pp.21-44
  • DOI : 10.18212/cccs.2018..41.002
  • Publisher : The Society For Chinese Cultural Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Chinese Language and Literature > Chinese Literature > Chinese Culture
  • Received : July 16, 2018
  • Accepted : August 17, 2018
  • Published : August 30, 2018

Hyun Sohn 1 JIYOUNG KIM 1

1성결대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This essay is a comparative study of early poetics of the East and the West. Poetry here, as defined at that time in both cultures, refers to the rhythmic writing in opposition to the prosaic, including lyric most of all in the East and lyric and epic and drama as well in the West. The earlier poetics of China in the East can be found in 『Maoshixu』, which says crucially: “Poetry is a thing written as led by the mind. What is in the mind is emotion and what is expressed is poetry.” This view of poetry as “expressed emotion” has strongly influenced the later Chinese poetry even up to today. Chinese poetics puts special emphasis on figures of speech as a means to convey emotion effectively. The earlier poetics of the West can be found in Ion and The Republic by Plato and Poetics by Aristotle in the ancient Greece. The core theory common to both of them is that poetry is an imitation of objects. Plato’s and Aristotle’s discussions of poetry are dependent on their philosophies, idealism and realism each. For example, whereas Plato explained poetry to be a sensory imitation of sensory objects and so triple-removed from the true ideality, Aristotle defined it as an imitation of action, which is always true to life. For Aristotle, the best imitation should be of heroic action and so tragedy is the supreme form of poetry. His theories of composition are very detailed and specific, a very original and unique case in the West. Thus we aim to compare the Eastern and the Western poetics in the earlier age in view of theories of origin, utility, and composition.

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