Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation

Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation


By (author) Alexander Beecroft

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  • Format: Hardback | 340 pages
  • Dimensions: 163mm x 236mm x 28mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 25 January 2010
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521194318
  • ISBN 13: 9780521194310
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,661,709

Product description

In this book, Alexander Beecroft explores how the earliest poetry in Greece (Homeric epic and lyric) and China (the Canon of Songs) evolved from being local, oral, and anonymous to being textualised, interpreted, and circulated over increasingly wider areas. Beecroft re-examines representations of authorship as found in poetic biographies such as Lives of Homer and the Zuozhuan, and in the works of other philosophical and historical authors like Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Confucius, and Sima Qian. Many of these anecdotes and narratives have long been rejected as spurious or motivated by naive biographical criticism. Beecroft argues that these texts effectively negotiated the tensions between local and pan-cultural audiences. The figure of the author thus served as a catalyst to a sense of shared cultural identity in both the Greek and Chinese worlds. It also facilitated the emergence of both cultures as the bases for cosmopolitan world orders.

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Author information

Alexander Beecroft is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University. He has published on topics in classics, sinology and comparative literature, in journals such as Transactions of the American Philological Association, the New Left Review, and Early Medieval China.

Table of contents

Introduction; 1. Explicit poetics in Greece and China: points of divergence and convergence; 2. Epic authorship: the Lives of Homer, textuality, and panhellenism; 3. Lyric authorship: poetry, genre, and the polis; 4. Authorship between epic and lyric: stesichorus, the Palinode, and performance; 5. Death and lingerie: cosmopolitan and panhuaxia readings of the Airs of the States; 6. Summit at Fei: the poetics of diplomacy in the Zouzhuan; 7. The politics of dancing: the Great King Wu dance and the Hymns of Zhou; Conclusion: scenes of authorship and master-narratives.