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Full Access A Case of the Chinese (Dis)order? The Haoqiu zhuan and Competing Forms of Knowledge in European and Japanese Readings*

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A Case of the Chinese (Dis)order? The Haoqiu zhuan and Competing Forms of Knowledge in European and Japanese Readings*

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Abstract For mid-eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European readers, the Haoqiu zhuan epitomized China’s “whole system of manners,” showing at one and the same time the orderly civility and the disorderly excess of the Chinese. These notions of wholeness and reversibility of order constitute the “anthropological” turn of Western knowledge, which was predicated on the finitude and perversion of humanity. Against the grain of such order-disorder totality, I read along with late Edo writers, whose rewriting of the Haoqiu zhuan focused on ninkyō/renxia (knight-errantry), a course of action presenting itself as an extreme case in which the norm is overextended to the point that it is no longer recognizable. The two competitive forms of knowledge—anthropology and case thinking—articulate the two sides of theatricality across the globe under the sway of commerce and print.

Affiliations: 1: East Asian Languages and Cultures University of California Berkeley, California USA lhlam@berkeley.edu

10.1163/22106286-12341243
/content/journals/10.1163/22106286-12341243
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Abstract For mid-eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European readers, the Haoqiu zhuan epitomized China’s “whole system of manners,” showing at one and the same time the orderly civility and the disorderly excess of the Chinese. These notions of wholeness and reversibility of order constitute the “anthropological” turn of Western knowledge, which was predicated on the finitude and perversion of humanity. Against the grain of such order-disorder totality, I read along with late Edo writers, whose rewriting of the Haoqiu zhuan focused on ninkyō/renxia (knight-errantry), a course of action presenting itself as an extreme case in which the norm is overextended to the point that it is no longer recognizable. The two competitive forms of knowledge—anthropology and case thinking—articulate the two sides of theatricality across the globe under the sway of commerce and print.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22106286-12341243
2013-01-01
2016-12-08

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