The journal of the China association of comparative literature was jointly sponsored by the China association of comparative literature and Shanghai international studies university in 1984 ISSN 1006-6101 CN
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Comparative Literature in China ›› 2021, Vol. 0 ›› Issue (2): 123-135.

• Interdisciplinary Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Wang Guowei's Theory of Tragedy in the Global Context

Ding Ersu   

  • Online:2021-06-15 Published:2022-12-06

Abstract: Wang Guowei was the first Chinese scholar to substantially participate in the global discourse on tragedy and his main theoretical source is the voluntarist philosophy of the 19th century Germany. Despite their minor differences in exposition, Wang Guowei and Schopenhauer agree on many important issues such as the value, function and generic features of tragedy. Firstly, both Wang Guowei and Schopenhauer emphasize what they call the third kind of tragedy which results from everyday interpersonal conflicts. Secondly, Wang Guowei is opposed to the practice of “poetic justice”, viewing it as contradictory to the real nature of life. Thirdly, Wang Guowei classifies tragic pleasure as belonging to the category of the sublime even though the terminology he uses is slightly different from that of Schopenhauer. Finally, both Wang Guowei and Schopenhauer attribute all human suffering to the blind and insatiable Will and as such, their theories do not sufficiently differentiate between good and bad. Nevertheless, their philosophical attitude of saying no to life can be read as a positive moral alternative to blatant egoism that can be found in all historical periods of mankind.

Key words: Wang Guowei, Schopenhauer, theory of tragedy, cause of tragedy, poetic justice, poetic pleasure, otherworldliness and resignation

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