Part of "Book at Lunchtime", a fortnightly series of bite size book discussions, with commentators from a range of disciplines. Xiaofan Amy Li discusses her new book "Comparative Encounters Between Artaud, Michaux and the Zhuangzi."
Xiaofan Amy Li (Randall MacIver Junior Research Fellow in Comparative Literature and Translation, University of Oxford), with Marina Warner (Fellow, All Souls College, University of Oxford), Wang Xing (DPhil student in Oriental Studies, University of Oxford), read a review by Prof Lloyd and Matthew Reynolds (Times Lecturer in English, University of Oxford)
The encounter between different minds and perspectives across time and space has always haunted the literary and philosophical imagination. Just such an encounter is staged and played out in this comparative study, which connects the twentieth-century Francophone writers Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) and Henri Michaux (1899-1984) with the ancient Chinese text Zhuangzi (c. 4th-3rd century BCE). These disparate texts are bridged by questions that draw them into close dialogue: how can Artaud and Michaux, who read about and admired ancient Chinese literature and culture, be rethought through certain philosophical concerns that the Zhuangzi raises? If the points of conceptual intersection focus on rationality, cosmology and ethics, what can they tell us about these important issues? By imagining, constructing and developing this thought-encounter, Li re-envisages Artaud, Michaux and the Zhuangzi through the kaleidoscope of comparative interpretation, juxtaposing and recombining ideas and contexts to form new patterns and meanings.