Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing between the Lines

By David L. Rolston | Go to book overview

6
Liberating Fiction from "Reality"

As we have seen in the previous chapter, Chinese fiction was often taken to be a subcategory of history yet was subject to charges of being "unhistorical." Fiction also needed a defense against the charge that it was "untrue." In this chapter we will see how fiction critics, for a variety of reasons, defended or even championed fictionality.

The reality portrayed in a fictional work must exhibit certain differences from the reality around us. The very granting to life a beginning, middle, and end and to human beings a recognizable and fairly consistent "character" is precisely what we do not experience in reality. But at the same time that fictional worlds exhibit more shape and closure than found in ordinary life, they are also incomplete and imperfect. No novelist can include all the information available in even the most cursory of glances but instead makes do with a few significant details and leaves the rest to us. Some hold that this kind of incompleteness is precisely what differentiates fictional from actual worlds ( Doležel, p. 194). We therefore end up with the rather confusing idea that the fictional world is both more and less complete than actual worlds.

The crudest conception of the relation between a fictional world and reality is reflectionism, that is, the literary work does (or should) present nothing more nor less than an accurate and impartial reflection of the world, and the author is a passive reflector or mirror. In the Western tradition, although Plato denigrated representational art as twice removed from "true" reality, being but the imitation of perceivable objects already mere imitations of ideal forms, the faithful representation of the world as perceived by the senses, as in a mirror, was long held to be the highest goal in art. This was so even though Plato himself pointed out the superiority of the mirror over humanity at this game ( Abrams, pp. 30-35).

In mainstream Chinese aesthetics, little emphasis was placed on the description of the outside world for its own sake. Details from the outside world were incorporated into literary works as part of the symbolic ex

-166-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Traditional Chinese Fiction and Fiction Commentary: Reading and Writing between the Lines
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 434

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.