The Tao and the Logos

Literary Hermeneutics, East and West

The Tao and the Logos

Post-Contemporary Interventions

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Book Pages: 258 Illustrations: Published: April 1992

Author: Longxi Zhang

Asian Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory, Theory and Philosophy

Questions of the nature of understanding and interpretation—hermeneutics—are fundamental in human life, though historically Westerners have tended to consider these questions within a purely Western context. In this comparative study, Zhang Longxi investigates the metaphorical nature of poetic language, highlighting the central figures of reality and meaning in both Eastern and Western thought: the Tao and the Logos. The author develops a powerful cross-cultural and interdisciplinary hermeneutic analysis that relates individual works of literature not only to their respective cultures, but to a combined worldview where East meets West.
Zhang's book brings together philosophy and literature, theory and practical criticism, the Western and the non-Western in defining common ground on which East and West may come to a mutual understanding. He provides commentary on the rich traditions of poetry and poetics in ancient China; equally illuminating are Zhang's astute analyses of Western poets such as Rilke, Shakespeare, and Mallarmé and his critical engagement with the work of Foucault, Derrida, and de Man, among others.
Wide-ranging and learned, this definitive work in East-West comparative poetics and the hermeneutic tradition will be of interest to specialists in comparative literature, philosophy, literary theory, poetry and poetics, and Chinese literature and history.


“Zhang Longxi’s recent comparative study of Chinese and Western hermeneutics signals a key development in both contemporary literary theory and cultural studies. . . . Zhang makes a case . . . for hermeneutic understanding (and interpretive pluralism) through demonstrating how many themes and concerns of Chinese poetics parallel and predate recent developments in Western literary theory.” — Christopher Wise, Philosophy and Literature

"A significant analysis of the conceptual premises that undergird the thinking of poets and theorists in China and the West. Zhang's analysis is marked with an impressive range of reference, intellectual rigor, and telling insights." — Eugene Chen Eoyang, Indiana University

"In this fascinating study of literary hermeneutics, Zhang demonstrates why it makes more sense to see the 'sameness' that underlines different cultural manifestations. At a time when 'difference' between cultural and literary systems has become the accepted working assumption for many comparatists it is most refreshing to see. . . . An impressive case for important common grounds between the Chinese and the Western traditions." — Kang-i Sun Chang, Yale University


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Zhang Longxi is Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Riverside.

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Honorable mention, Joseph Levenson Prize (pre-twentieth century China), Association for Asian Studies

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1218-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1211-6
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