Chinese Literature as Seen from India
“THE CHINESE THINK, act, and feel almost exactly like us; and we soon find that we are perfectly like them, except that all they do is more clear, pure, and decorous, than with us,” Goethe is reported to have enthusiastically declared after reading a Chinese novel.
Is it possible to have a different view on China from India? Might we read Chinese literature neither out of eagerness for an exotic difference nor to come away amazed at a common humanity, but rather with the awareness of certain cultural, historical and social affinities and a curiosity about how their writers and ours interpret them in fiction? Given these affinities, could we approach Chinese literature more organically and not, following the Western model, as one more instance of ‘otherness’ to be annexed to the compendium of world literature?