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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) who read a review by Geoffrey Lloyd (who was unable to attend the event), and Matthew Reynolds (Times Lecturer in English, University of Oxford)

About the book

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.