Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Understanding Literature in light of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and Lu Xun's A Diary of a Madman

I would like to cite the ideas of literature as they were employed in these two literary texts: Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and Lu Xun’s A Diary of a Madman.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is a canonized literary work in the 1300’s that tells twenty-four individual tales of pilgrims. Its richness in literary devices (i.e. the use of fabliau, allegory, romance fable among many others), having delivered by different voices, also brings a kind of isolation to Chaucer himself as the writer and as the narrator.  It also presents varying thematic concerns that associates this classical work to be also value-laden in characteristic, although, arguably, some of the tales discord values and present other human tendencies. Hence, how we also classify literature as an imitation of life is represented in Chaucer’s work, too.  
 A Diary of a Madman is rich in cultural and historical context as Lu Xun’s daunting imageries in his story delineates feudal values that were present in China (the main character having felt that the people in his community were conspiring to eat him is a representation of corruption of the community adopting the said values). Although he used the Chinese vernacular language as his medium in writing, it does not entirely suffice the connotations in the story. Lu Xun’s short story gave a timely release in the middle of uprisings against oppression and foreign imperialism, thus, we also see literature as reflection of the writer’s life magnifying his view of the struggles occurring in his time.
The inherent characteristics imposed by the ideas that I learned about literature gave more room to understanding its variedness and receptiveness to conditions: as an imitation of our perception of what is real and unreal, as the product of the writer, as an embodying element of form, and also as a conduit that transcends into others far from its creator.

1 comment:

  1. This is quite an interesting post. Reminds me of some elements that I learned when I took up a course in hermeneutics from the vantage point of Hans Gerog-Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, what I find interesting is your last paragraph where you rightly situate stories as "an embodying element of form". In the academic discipline that I am studying such a concept is what is known as a 'meta-narrative' to which it makes us look at stories from another vantage point:

    Another good way at understanding stories like that of Chaucer and Lu Xun's is to look at literature as a linear explanation for a 'meta-construct' that functions as a meta-narrative for
    an abstract idea that provides an explanation of experience or knowledge. Which in turn functions as an over-arching story that helps one interpret the world.

    In fact experience renders it evident for us to realize that we live in a world where there are many stories/ways that people interpret and therefore see the world.

    Good examples of these would be that of the Christian world view whereupon Christians view themselves as a community that gathers in the name of Christ as the people of God who appropriates the story of Israel, Jesus and the first followers of Jesus as their own story.
    Another would be that of the Marxist view where history is viewed as a grand narrative of class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.

    Anyways its great reading your blog. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff :)