Abstract

To make a global survey of the study of Chinese literature today would hardly be possible within the space of a single article; apart from the sheer amount of material to be covered and the linguistic competence required, it would be very difficult to discuss—in the same breath—works carried out in radically different social and cultural environments and under radically different assumptions about the nature and purpose of literary scholarship. This survey, therefore, will be limited to the study of Chinese literature in the Western world, which, however, is not to be understood in a strictly geographical sense but rather in a cultural-linguistic one. Thus, works written in or translated into a Western language, and with a predominantly “Western” orientation, may be included irrespective of the author's nationality or the place of publication—whereas works by Chinese, Japanese, Soviet, and Eastern European scholars in their own languages will not be discussed. It should also be made clear—obvious though it may be—that this survey, not being a bibliography, cannot be exhaustive; it can only concentrate on works that appear to represent significant trends. Failure to mention a work, therefore, does not necessarily imply lack of esteem, nor does mention of a work necessarily imply unreserved agreement. Chronologically, this survey will cover works completed since i960, as well as a few works in progress and planned works. Finally, we may venture to take a glance at future possibilities and problems.

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