Nonwestern Literature Essay
Modern literature does not show the extent to which literature has come. Medieval forms of literature reflected an unprecedented level of purity and originality. A study of the similarities and dissimilarities between cultures reveals the exchange of ideology that occurred many centuries ago. This gives weight to the assertion that modern forms of literature from different regions of the world once shared certain characteristics. It should not get assumed that the different forms of literature arose from the same inspiration. Rather, the varying types of literature occurred separately.
However, due to improvements in technology and communication, forms of literature have become similar over time. An in-depth look at Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese literatures highlights this clearly. China and India, as countries from the East, have a winding, rich, and spectacular literary tradition. The exchange of literary accomplishments between the two nations has never ceased even until modern times. The primary groundwork for such an exchange became established through the introduction of Buddhism into China. As a result of this introduction, Indian literature began imparting nourishment to its Chinese counterpart.
Thus, Chinese literature adopted plenty of influences from Indian literature. Resulting effects on Chinese literature have manifested themselves in aspects of aesthetic tendency, form, subject, rhetoric and vocabulary. In ancient times, Buddhism served as the key medium for Chinese-Indian literary exchanges. Chinese literature has become more and more influenced by Indian literature in recent times due to the assimilation of Buddhist influences. Nevertheless, the extent and nature of the literary exchange between India and China has become two-sided and complementary in recent times.
There exist similarities and differences between Chinese and Indian literature. In both Chinese and Indian literature, the form of literature gets classified as primarily oral. In both Chinese and Indian literatures, extensive written forms of literature appeared in later periods compared to the emergence of oral forms of literature. In both Chinese and Indian literature, the emergence of written forms of literature arose due to the spread of literacy programs pioneered by the ruling authorities in both countries.
Also, both Indian and Chinese literatures have different forms of literature contributing to the overall state of literature in the respective countries. Moreover, both Indian and Chinese literatures have experienced changes due to modern influences from the western world. On the other hand, a few differences arise between Chinese and Indian literature. Chinese literature has always gotten expression through only one language. This has remained true for the over 3000 years which the Chinese civilization has existed. On the contrary, Indian literature has experienced segmentation due to the presence of numerous languages within India.
The Indian culture has officially recognized 22 languages and among these languages, 21 of them have establishes their own unique forms of literature. Indian literature has gotten influence from the various traditions that have governed over the country. Throughout its history, various family traditions have dictated the nature of ownership over the country. In turn, the varying styles of ownership have had an unmistakable effect on the types of literature. Thus, different ownership periods as demarcated by family traditions have different kinds of literature.
Conversely, various dynasties throughout the whole period of its sovereign existence have ruled China. This has led to the classification of types of literature based on the particular dynasty that ruled the country at the time of the emergence of the literature. These dynasties include Zhou, Qin, Han, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing. During the existence of all these dynasties, various forms of literature have arisen. For instance, early woodblock and poetry became embraced during the Tang dynasty while novels gained prominence during the Ming dynasty.
Chinese and Egyptian literatures share many points of reference. Both forms of literature began experiencing formative influences before the Common Era. Egyptian literature has its roots in ancient Egyptian culture. Along with Sumerian literature, ancient Egyptian literature gets classified as the one of the earliest forms of literature. In both forms of literature, the ownership periods played a key role towards the definition and classification of different types of literature. Both Chinese and Egyptian forms of literature have pioneered forms of writing, which had not existed earlier.
Egyptian literature gave rise to hieroglyphics. Also, the writing of blurbs began in the 14th century Egyptian times. The writing of blurbs thus emerged as a key component of literary writing in the contemporary world. Both forms of literature have allowed the influence of different forms of literature from other countries. Egyptian literature became molded by the influx of foreign poets who flocked the town of Alexandria. These poets originated from Greece and Rome. They immigrated to Alexandria so as to utilize the library facility in the town.
As a result of their extended stay in Egypt, the poets began expressing their literature in Arabic language. Inevitably, the existing literature within Egypt became fused with the literature brought by the European poets. The infiltration and influence of Indian Buddhism has played a prominent role in the shaping the Chinese literature toward adopting Indian connotations. Meditation has become a key component of Chinese literature unlike previous times. This lays testament to the fact that Indian Buddhism has left an indelible mark on Chinese literature.
In Chinese literature, the initial form of literature consisted primarily of oral forms. Written forms of literature appeared during later periods of civilization. This stands in stark contrast to Egyptian literature, which has the autobiography as its oldest form. Egyptian literature got expressed in papyrus reeds. These provided the writing material on which ancient Egyptian writers would record their literary works. Also, Egypt invented calligraphy, which emerged as a key means of writing during that era. Chinese literature has received influence primarily stemming from the ruling influences within the country.
The dynasties that have exercised governorship over the country have molded the types of literature within China. In contrast, Egyptian literature has experienced influences stemming from external sources. The conquering of Egypt by Muslim Arabs had a major impact on the literature in Egypt. Libraries became established and literature thrived. Papyrus reeds became replaced by cloth paper as writing surfaces. Another difference between Egyptian and Chinese literature appears when it comes to the overriding motive behind the change in literature.
In Chinese literature, the changes undertaken in literature have occurred involuntarily and with the noble aim of improving the Chinese culture. On the other hand, changes in Egyptian literature have become implemented for the sole purpose of embracing Islam. The majority of Egyptian literature back in medieval times consisted of wisdom literature. This shows that the wider number of Egyptian literary works got written mainly for instruction and guidance. Such instruction recognizes the social format of life that exists in Egypt. Family values take the first place in Egypt.
As a result, the forms of literature within the country give precedence to the values honored by families. However, the majority of forms of literature written in China became formulated for the purpose of entertainment. This arises due to the communal nature of the Chinese culture. Hence, the forms of literature become designed in such a way as to amuse and thereby engender a sense of togetherness within the community. ?Egyptian and Indian literatures have stunning similarities and glaring differences. The bulk of both Egyptian and Indian literatures bears literature intended for instruction.
Both Egyptian and Indian cultures recognize the supremacy of family values. Thus, the literature of both countries became formulated with the intention of providing the families with instructive information regarding family life. Indian folklore and Egyptian folklore combined as key elements towards the formation of storytelling formats. Both Indian and Egyptian literatures have become molded for the purpose of accommodating religious beliefs. Literature in Egypt has evolved with the passage of time as it becomes more permissible to the Islamic faith and body of beliefs.
Since Islam has gained wide acclaim as the state religion, the form of literature within Egypt has sought to reflect this truth in its form. This has endeavored to avoid hurting the religiously-trained consciences of Egyptians. In India, religion has had a major impact towards the changes that have occurred in Indian literature. India plays host to majority of the world’s most populous forms of faith. Buddhism alone has had an understated effect on the form of Indian literature. The prevalence of meditation techniques within Egyptian literature gives evidence of the extent of Buddhist influence.?
However, a few differences exist between Indian and Egyptian literatures. Egyptian literature had its beginnings much earlier than Indian literature. This necessarily makes Egyptian literature richer than Indian literature. The superior quality of Egyptian literature becomes apparent through a sober consideration of the genres that have gotten invented due to Egyptian literature. Indian literature has become classified in terms of tradition due to the ideologies that have governed the country. In the contrary, Egyptian literature has always manifested their Islamic inclinations.
Also, Egyptian literature received notable influence from European poets while India has risen to become the source of poetic influence to other countries like China. The history of Egyptian literature had its beginnings in ancient Egypt. The River Nile had a massive influence on the development of Egyptian literature. The town of Alexandria served as a major confluence for the emergence of literary influences. This happened because of the presence of the Library of Alexandria. This library served as hubs for poets originating from Greece and Rome, which served as key world powers in that time.
The influence of these foreign poets had an unprecedented effect on Egyptian literature. Beginning from the period of the tyrannical Pharaohs until the conclusion of the Roman Empire’s rulership, ancient Egyptian literature got expresses in Egyptian language. Ancient Egyptian literature gains recognition as the world’s earliest form of literature along with other genres like Sumerian literature.? However, forms of writing in ancient Egypt did not surface until the late periods of the 4th century. This included both hieratic and hieroglyphic forms of writing.
At some time before the modern era, the available literary works included epistles and letters, texts, hymns and poems, and memorials. These biographical texts got penned so as to document the professional lives of noteworthy administrative marshals. These developments notwithstanding, narrative forms of Egyptian literature became created in late periods of the 17th century BC. The formation of narrative forms sparked a media revolution in the whole of Egypt. Such a revolution occurred due to various factors. The unprecedented rise in literacy levels played a primary role for the revolution.
Other factors included widespread access to written literature, rise of an intellectual class of scribes, new cultural sensibilities about individuality, unprecedented levels of literacy, and mainstream access to written materials.? The history and tradition of Indian literature primarily features verse though it also seems fundamentally oral. The earliest works became composed for the purpose of getting sung or recited. In this raw form, they became transmitted throughout a number of generations before getting written down as permanent recordings.
As a result of this belated recording, the earliest records of a text appear later by several millenniums than the stated date of its initial composition. Furthermore, probably because the majority of Indian literature appears as either religious or as a reworking of common stories from the Sanskrit tales, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and the mythological writings, the authors often maintain their anonymity. Biographical components and details of the lives of the majority of the earlier Indian authors appear only in much
later myths and legends. In medieval Indian literature, the earliest works in many of the languages were sectarian, designed to advance or to celebrate some unorthodox regional. Much traditional Indian literature is derived in theme and form not only from Sanskrit literature but from the Buddhist and Jain texts written in the Pali language and the other Prakrits (medieval dialects of Sanskrit). This applies to literature in the Dravidian languages of the south as well as to literature in the Indo-Iranian languages of the north.
Invasions of Persians and Turks, beginning in the 14th century, resulted in the influence of Persian and Islamic culture in Urdu, although important Islamic strands can be found in other literatures as well, especially those written in Bengali, Gujarati, and Kashmiri. After 1817, entirely new literary values were essay, and literary drama (this last incorporating both classical Sanskrit and Western models)—that gradually engulfed the customary Indian verse genres. Urdu poets remained faithful to the old forms while Bengalis were imitating such English poets as Percy Bysshe Shelley or T. S. Eliot.? The history of ?
Chinese literature extends for thousands of years. This started from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the mature fictional novels that arose during the Ming Dynasty. These mature fictional novels became penned for the sake of entertaining the masses of literate Chinese citizens. To various Westerners, Chinese literature remains hugely unexplored in comparison to the rich state of the Chinese culture. As a matter of fact, it is a treasure of a very considerable number of brilliant and profound works as each dynasty, in the long history of China, has passed down its legacy of magnificent events and works.
For 3500 years, they have woven a variety of genres and forms encompassing poetry, essays, fiction and drama; each in its own way reflecting the social climate of its day through the high spirit of art. Chinese literature has its own values and tastes, its own reigning cultural tradition and its own critical system of theory. Chronologically, it can be divided into four main periods: classical, modern, contemporary, and the present-age literature. Classical literature refers to the earliest period and covers works from three thousand years ago to the late Qing Dynasty and is a virtually unbroken strand enduring dynastic changes.
Since it was nearly always developed under the reign of centralized and unified government, it is imbued with the thoughts of a culture that embraced slavery and a feudal society. It was steeped in an enclosed environment that hardly had any real links with religion or least of all the literature of foreign cultures. ? Modern Literature refers to the period from the Opium War in 1840 to the May Fourth Movement in 1919. As the decadent reign of the Qing failed to inspire the minds of people, the literary forms had remained unchanged; till the Opium War in 1840.
Then they absorbed the impact of western thoughts as foreigners poured in China and established their colonies. Novels, poetry and other works began to appear with a theme of patriotism and a revelation of social ills. Contemporary literature spanned the period from 1919 to the foundation of modern in 1949 and took on a new vigor, despite the fact that Chinese was in the throes of checkered and complicated times. This period was distinctive as it brought into being a new and revised literary language, form, content and skills allowing it to evolve into an independent and open art available to the whole of society.
It attached great attention to people’s lives and a future with strong political tendencies. Influenced by the tide of the world literature, it provided wide and amiable communication between writers and readers. Present-Age literature has evolved since the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. During this time, there was a logjam as a consequence of the Cultural Revolution that lasted for nearly 10 years. That era is now long past and we now have a favorable turn on events and a great number of responsible writers deepen the literary forms and content. Nowadays literature prospers.
As the Chinese nation is a racial mix of Han people together with 55 other ethnic groups, literature reflects this. The various ethnic groups have contributed greatly in this field.? China stands as the only country worldwide with a mono-language literature for over 3,000 years. This continuity comes from the nature of the written language itself. It is the use of characters, not letters as in Western languages, that is, most important in the Chinese language. The characters stand for things or ideas and so, unlike groups of letters, they cannot and need never get sounded.
Thus Chinese could be read by people in all parts of the country in spite of gradual changes in pronunciation, the emergence of regional and local dialects, and modification of the characters. A revolution held in China marked the dynasties whereby a clan ruled over an empire. Inevitably, the significant change of Chinese society that occurred with the change of government invariably led to an alteration of literature. Thus, Chinese literature gradually became westernized and Classical language got absolved from utilization.
The national government desired for women to enjoy equal privileges like men. This clamor for an equal status in society resulted in plenty of women writers and scholars. As a result, the amount of politically oriented literature doubled. Academicians got unrestrained access to literature from foreign countries while plenty of students received scholarships so as to study abroad. The New Culture Movement became disbanded and writers endeavored to blaze the trail in transforming China into a modern industrialized nation.
Writers also intended to replace Confucian life-style with a modern, westernized one. Under the leadership of the national government, there existed some freedom of expression. During that period of relative freedom, lots of different views and styles of literature became widely popular. But at the moment China came under attack from Japan, the resulting Communist victory led to the curtailing of former freedoms. For instance, only literature that met the approval of the government became allowed. Egyptian literature has also experienced plenty of changes due to interaction with western cultures.
The expansion of the international market has necessitated the presence of many foreigners within Egyptian soil. As a result of such mingling, Egyptian literature has become influenced by western attitudes and notions. India has become a key player in the Commonwealth of Nations movement. Inevitably, it has become the focal point for conducting business within Asia. Thus, Indian literature has adopted other cultures. Buddhism has also become part and parcel of the literature of many other countries.
This highlights the exchange that has undoubtedly occurred between Indian literature and other forms of literature. REFEREENCES Allen, James P. (2000), Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.? Foster, John Lawrence (2001), Ancient Egyptian Literature: An Anthology, Austin: University of Texas Press.? K, Kripalani (1970). Modern Indian Literature.? Knight, Sabina (2012). Chinese Literature : A Very Short Introduction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, Very Short Introductions Series.? Levy, Andre (2000).
Chinese Literature, Ancient and Classical. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.? Lichtheim, Miriam (2006), Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom, with a new foreword by Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.? M. , Winternitz. (1973) . A History of Indian Literature.? Mair, Victor H. (2001). The Columbia History of Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press.? T. , W. , Clark. (1970). The Novel in India.? Quirke, S. (2004), Egyptian Literature 1800 BC, questions and readings, London: Golden House Publications.
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