A Critical Study of John Donne’s Allegorical Poetry with the Concepts of Yin and Xiu in Wenxindiaolong


Widely hailed as one of the greatest achievements in Chinese literary criticism, Liu Xie’s Wenxindiaolong has benefited generations of writers and critics afterwards, and today it has been the very object of study in ‘Dragonology’ and related subjects. Although its ideas have been investigated and elucidated to a great extent, its application, particularly in the appreciation and criticism of Western literary writings, has yet to flourish. The current study highlights two concepts originating from the work, Yin (‘Latent’) and Xiu (‘Out-standing’), and explores the feasibility of their applications in the appreciation of Western literary writings, in particular, the allegorical poetry of the metaphysical poet John Donne. With Liu’s concepts and Donne’s poetry placed in the two major historical, theoretical traditions which thread Chinese and Western literary history respectively, i.e., the theoretical tradition of ‘meaning beyond words’ (言外之意說) and the allegorical tradition—two backgrounds which share remarkable affinities while retaining their own cultural differences—a common ground for comparative analysis is identified. The richness of allegorical meanings in Donne’s poetry epitomizes Liu’s ‘latency’, and the striking lines in his poetry, like those with his conceits, are ‘out-standing’ in Liu’s terms. Keywords: Poetry, Allegory, John Donne, Yin(隱), Xiu(秀), Liu Xie, Wenxindiaolong/The Literary Mind: Elaborations

Author Information
Chan Chun Siu, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

Paper Information
Conference: LibrAsia2015
Stream: Literature - Comparative Literature

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon