In the field of Chinese and comparative literature, a scholarly consensus holds that the idea of mimesis is not entirely absent, but a mimetic theory of literature is nonexistent in the Chinese tradition. The assumed absence of mimetic theory has become the basis for a fundamental dichotomy between Chinese expressive views and Western mimetic views of literature. This essay presents solid evidence to prove the contrary. By constructing a Chinese mimetic theory in relation to its Western counterpart, it explores how mimesis evolved in the historical development of Chinese aesthetic thought, how it appeared in the poetic theories of some influential literary thinkers, and what significance it has for the mainstream of Chinese literary thought. It argues that mimetic theory constitutes a fascinating but neglected current in Chinese literary thought, one which opens new horizons in comparative poetics.


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pp. 403-424
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