Tao Yuanming and William Wordsworth: A Parallel Study
The dissertation conducts a parallel study of a prominent Chinese poet from the early medieval period named Tao Yuanming and William Wordsworth, one of the founding figures of British Romanticism, with the aim to suggest novel connections between and bring together into a constructive dialogue two of the world's major literary cultures that are still to a large extent mutually indifferent, if not mutually exclusive, in today's academic discourse. The chapter design is roughly symmetrical. For the named dialogue to take place, the dissertation sets out to break down the widely current dichotomy of fact and fiction in East-West literary studies by critiquing the hermeneutic approaches predominating in traditional China and the modern West, which seem in a balanced view either excessively literal-minded or to lean too much toward a denial of the factual base of the kind of lyric poetry that is manifestly autobiographical, a poetic genre in which both our master-writers obviously excelled. The remaining chapters provide novel readings of selected writings by the two poets in order to address some of the problems that are first adumbrated and yet left unresolved in the opening chapter, especially those concerning the authorial stance of Tao Yuanming and Wordsworth in their respective writings. Although discussions of the two writers are kept strictly separate in the body of the dissertation, with each chapter focused on issues of apparently local interest, the chapters do constitute a comparison, albeit of a rather oblique sort, when read together as a sequence. As a juxtapositional comparison, it attempts not only to represent and reproduce for the reader to the extent possible within the bounds of the dissertator's interest and abilities the actual, defamiliarizing experience of reading interculturally, but also to restore considerations of the author to their rightful place and demonstrate the practicality of an authorial approach in the study of literature, especially of autobiographical writing.