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A History of European LiteratureThe West and the World from Antiquity to the Present$
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Walter Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198732679

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732679.001.0001

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Eurasian Literature through the Eighteenth Century

Eurasian Literature through the Eighteenth Century

Chapter:
(p.309) 11 Eurasian Literature through the Eighteenth Century
Source:
A History of European Literature
Author(s):

Walter Cohen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198732679.003.0011

The early modern European realist novel increasingly turns away from the representation of empire, a move that sets it apart from other literary genres of the time, fictional or otherwise. Yet both this fiction and the contemporaneous drama are ultimately indebted to South Asian narrative going back to the first millennium BCE. That same Indian tradition also informs the development of the novel and drama in Chinese and Japanese literature. This comparison suggests that simultaneous achievement in epic and drama during the European Renaissance is an anomaly in early modernity. By contrast, the pairing of distinguished drama and distinguished fiction characterizes Western Europe as well as East Asia. Accordingly, at the two ends of Eurasia, one can identify not only common themes and a common social basis, but also the possible role in modernization of Western Europe’s distinctive multilingual, international competitive system.

Keywords:   realist novel, Renaissance, early modern, drama, Chinese literature, Japanese literature, South Asian narrative

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