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Classical Chinese Literature Resources

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Greek culture began its journey into philosophy, literature, and historography in the Mediterranean Basin. In Asia, China had a head-start in terms of its artistic achievements. In some ways, there are striking parallels between the two cultures. Both experienced periods of warfare at roughly similar times in their development. Both explored similar philosophical problems in their writings.

However, the two cultures took very different approaches to these undertakings. Literature in the Western tradition flowers first with lengthy narrative epics, such as the Homeric writings. On the other hand, Chinese Poetry begins with a collection of short, brief poems. Greek culture is one of individuality and fragmentation, each island surrounded and joined to the other by the watery sea which was both a barrier and an aquatic highway. Its literature is one of travel, trade, and exploration. China, however, sprawls across a single continent, separated by distance and geography from non-Asiatic cultures. Its history is one in which the Chinese people strive for political unity under a single emperor, with the small "warring states" gradually devouring each other until only one survives. Greek culture emphasizes the exploits of the individual, and praises innovation, aggression, and logic. Chinese culture emphasizes the exploits of the nation-state, the values of conformity to tradition, and the duties of filial piety (obedience to the family, respect for one's elders, and the honors due to the spirits of the dead).






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Copyright Dr. L. Kip Wheeler 1998-2017. Permission is granted for non-profit, educational, and student reproduction. Last updated January 11, 2018. Contact: kwheeler@cn.edu Please e-mail corrections, suggestions, or comments to help me improve this site. Click here for credits, thanks, and additional copyright information.