Questions of the nature of understanding and interpretation—hermeneutics—are fundamental in human life, though historically Westerners have tended to consider these questions within a purely Western context. In this comparative study, Zhang Longxi investigates the metaphorical nature of poetic language, highlighting the central figures of reality and meaning in both Eastern and Western thought: the Tao and the Logos. The author develops a powerful cross-cultural and interdisciplinary hermeneutic analysis that relates individual works of literature not only to their respective cultures, but to a combined worldview where East meets West.
Zhang’s book brings together philosophy and literature, theory and practical criticism, the Western and the non-Western in defining common ground on which East and West may come to a mutual understanding. He provides commentary on the rich traditions of poetry and poetics in ancient China; equally illuminating are Zhang’s astute analyses of Western poets such as Rilke, Shakespeare, and Mallarmé and his critical engagement with the work of Foucault, Derrida, and de Man, among others.
Wide-ranging and learned, this definitive work in East-West comparative poetics and the hermeneutic tradition will be of interest to specialists in comparative literature, philosophy, literary theory, poetry and poetics, and Chinese literature and history.