The Transcivilizational Feminine and World Literature
The epilogue presents the parallel employments of the figure of the chaste feminine in seventeenth-century Chinese “talent-beauty” novels and the English works of Samuel Richardson, such as Pamela. It proposes that this East-West correspondence reflects analogous narrative shifts toward representing a more interiorized mode of morality and individual existence in response to the ongoing destablizations of past cultural forms. The parallel in question was noted by Goethe when he advanced his famous notion of “world literature.” Recalling this event and its underlying global dynamics, including Goethe’s vision of a geographical transformation of word civilization, the epilogue reinforces the necessity of the horizontal comparative literature method. It argues that a more future-looking concept of world literature demands an unearthing of a polycentric mode of transcultural early modernity.
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