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date: 19 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Modern Chinese literature is often understood as marking a self-consciously cosmopolitan departure from a long and largely autochthonous literary tradition. The binary between “modern” and “traditional” implicit in this view forecloses the possibility of reading individual works and broader literary developments in the late Ming and early Qing alongside European counterparts as part of a shared early modernity. After reviewing the emergence of and lively scholarly debates around the notion of “early modern China,” this chapter proposes a model of analogical comparison as a means of avoiding some of the methodological pitfalls that are increasingly seen to imperil scholarship that places works from China and Europe in an explicitly comparative framework. Eighteenth-century satirical fictions by Wu Jingzi and Henry Fielding are juxtaposed to demonstrate the usefulness of such a model in rethinking individual works of a national tradition in relation to a more global conception of modern literary history.

Keywords: comparison, satire, analogy, methodology, Qing

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