On the Literary Space in Zhuangzi ── Consideration of the “Try and Explain”

Vol. 43 No. 3   09/2013    


On the Literary Space in Zhuangzi ── Consideration of the “Try and Explain”


Tsai, Yueh-chang  









Key words

Zhuangzi, literary space, body-qi subject, try and explain, goblet words  


        When it comes to Zhuangzi 莊子 literature, people never forget to mention its poetic, humorous, and appealing features. When Zhuangzi describes a scene, it is poetic and scenic. His narratives are funny and his comments are admirable. If it is about expressing one’s feelings, his writing is so captivating that it seizes your heart. The rhetoric he uses—such as metaphor, exaggeration, foil, analogy, and layout—is unique and dazzling. Generally speaking, most critics focus on the lyric world of one’s experience to comment on the literary works of Zhuangzi. They talk about his linguistic styles and fictional stories, emphasize the literary trend of a particular historical period, or try restoring and imagining a legendary myth. These perspectives, although more or less related to the categorization of Zhuangzi’s works, are not based on genre but on content as the measure of categorization. These ways of discussing the literary characteristics of Zhuangzi literature are simplistic and clumsy. 
        The starting point of this article is a reconsideration of “I.” It presupposes that the unity of “I” is the condition and foundation for a subject to experience this world. If this is the case, then, when “I” is a drifting and undetermined “body-qi subject,” it is not impossible to imagine that this subject, composed of some flexible gatherings, would contain a textual presentation of “goblet words,” which are the opposite of daily language and logic. In this article, the “try and explain” of Zhuangzi literature is a crucial in explicating how Zhuangzi becomes a literary text. This is also an effect resulting from a body-qi subject that is inspired by spiritual recognition and bodily practice. Of this process, the exercises of assimilation and exclusion implicate fundamental meanings and particular philosophical gestures of literary production.  



Author: Tsai, Yueh-chang
Genre: Article