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Scriptworlds Lost and Found

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When writing systems spread beyond their language of origin, they bring literacy to formerly oral cultures or intrude on or displace an existing system. The process of learning a new script often entails learning a good deal about the source culture and its literature, sometimes overwriting earlier local traditions, other times creatively stimulating them. This essay looks first at some of the literary consequences of the spread of cuneiform writing in relation to its hieroglyphic and alphabetic rivals in the ancient Near East, and then discusses the advance and later loss of Chinese script in Vietnam and Korea, in the examples of the foundational work of modern Vietnamese literature, Nguyen Du’s The Tale of Kieu, and poems by the modern Korean poet Pak Tujin.

Affiliations: 1: Harvard University ddamrosc@fas.harvard.edu

10.1163/24056480-00102002
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/content/journals/10.1163/24056480-00102002
2016-01-01
2018-09-26

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