NATURE, INACTION AND ILLUSION: THE INFLUENCE OF TAOISM ON AMERICAN POETRY IN THE 20TH CENTURY

Zhu Lihong, Wang Feng

Abstract


Taoism is one of the most fundamental thoughts in China, and Laozi’s Taoist theory is even more brilliant, shining through the entire history of Chinese culture. Taoist culture and thoughts through translation have influenced American poetry directly or indirectly. Tao Te Ching (also Laozi) has become the most widely translated Chinese classic in history with the largest circulation overseas. Moreover, its translation has become second only to the Bible. At present, most scholars tend to comment on its translations, and there are few researches on the influence of Taoist thoughts after translation. Therefore, this paper intends to focus on the influences of Taoism on American poetry after translation. The study is based on three major cultural movements in the 20th century in the United States: the New Poetry Movement, the Beat Movement and the Deep Imagist Movement, taking typical poems in these movements as the research objects. The study intends to illustrate the great influences of Taoism on the three cultural movements in the 20th century in the United States by means of close reading, comparative analysis from the perspective of diachronic research. It first introduces the three American movements briefly, enumerates the poets who absorbed Taoist ideas in the movements, and then explains specifically what thoughts they absorbed from Taoism through the comparative analysis between the original Taoist thoughts and the thoughts in American poet’s poetry. It demonstrated in detail that American poets absorbed Taoist thoughts that have an impact on their poetry writing as poets. During the New Poetry Movement, the poets advocated the Taoists view of nature. During the Beat Movement, they paid close attention to the view of “inaction”, while the poets of the Deep Image Group concentrated on the illusion under the view of “homogeneous things”, which promoted the diversified development of American poetry.

 

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Keywords


Taoist thought; American poetry; influence; new poetry movement; beat movement; deep imagist movement

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.46827/ejals.v3i1.200

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