Volume 23, Issue 1/4, 2007
Semiotics in the Chinese Umwelt
The Rise of Chinese Literary Theory
Intertextuality and System Mutations in Classical Texts
In traditional Chinese literary criticism, textual strategies comparable to intertextuality have governed Chinese critics’ and poets’ reading and writing about
literature throughout the dynasties. Drawing on the intertextual theories of Kristeva and Riffaterre, the paper probes into the phenomenon of sign system-mutations in two highly influential ancient texts: the Confucian Classic of Changes of the fifth century B.C.E. and Liu Xie’s The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons, an ars poetica in the third century. The transformation of sign systems from nonverbal to verbal, in the case of the Changes, and from literate to literary or “creative” to “theoretical”, in the case of the Dragons, bears witness to the Hjelmslevian reciprocity of object-semiotic and meta-semiotic.