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Place of Culture in the Development of World Literature Essay

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Updated: Jan 5th, 2022

Eastern and Western cultures are absolutely different phenomena. Literature performs the role of a cultural mirror: we can see in the literary heritage national moral and wealth of culture of this or that ethnos. There are too many striking differences in the Western and Eastern literatures that it is highly difficult to comprehend the first of the second one by representatives of another culture. Eastern literature which comprises Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and other literatures is an ancient phenomenon. It has its own long history. That is why we cannot admit that all works of Eastern literatures are similar in the context of culture. On the contrary, Eastern literature is comprises various genres, styles, themes that even sometimes contain contradictive elements. Of course, it can be explained by historical and cultural events. Nevertheless, one may always find the factor which unites all works of Eastern literature: eastern culture is an inalienable part of any novel, story, or poem.

To begin with, we should mention the novel Monkey: A Folk-Tale of China by Chinese writer Wu Cheng’en. The novel reflects diversity of beliefs of Chinese people of that period. All characters and their names are chosen in such a way to demonstrate Chinese folk myths and symbols. For example, one of the main characters bears the name “Monkey”. It is not a fact of coincidence that monkey symbolizes bravery and courage. In the novel we may see that Monkey faces lots of difficulties n his path. Still, he I swilling to solve them. In other words, the Chinese of the sixteenth century represents Chinese culture of that period.

Matsuo Basho is another representative of the Eastern literature. He is one of the most famous Japanese poets of the seventeenth century. Like Wu Cheng’en who pays great attention to nature, its beauty and power, Basho depicts it as well. The only difference between haikus of Basho and the novel is that haikus reveal beauty of Japanese nature. The poet plays a role of admirable observer, but not an active participant of event. Through depiction of nature Basho reveals social and non-social aspects of Japanese culture.

Comparing with the works mentioned above the novel story of the Stone by Cao Xueqin, Chinese writer of the eighteenth century, reveals to a great extant social aspect through the description of the two branches of the Jia. It is interesting to know that the novel was created not in Classical Chinese, but in Vernacular Chinese. It is a modernized variant of the Classical language. Still, it is very close to the spoken variant of Chinese. The novel contains such aspect of Chinese traditions as religion, medicine, proverbs, etc. However, there are lots of Western objects which are included into the novel. In some way it demonstrates beginning of interrelation of Chinese and Western cultures.

The short story A Madman’s Diary by the Chinese writer Lu Xun, and Japanese novel The American School by Kojima Nobuo were created in the twentieth century. Still, they demonstrate different views on the problem culture. If Lu Xun through the description of a man’s madness reveal negative impact of feudalistic and outdated beliefs and traditions on the life of Chinese people, the author of The American School depicts the problem of patriotism and nationality in his work. Kojima Nobuo highlights the importance of cultural heritage and its preservation.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Place of Culture in the Development of World Literature." January 5, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/place-of-culture-in-the-development-of-world-literature/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Place of Culture in the Development of World Literature'. 5 January.

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