The Third Relation of Comparative Literature and East Asian literature
Journal of Cultural Interaction in East Asia
I. The Concept of the Third Relation of Comparative Literature In over one century since the inception of Comparative Literature, there have been only two models in the study of literary relationships in the academic communities at home and abroad, that is, influence study and parallel study, with the former studying the communications among different literatures, and the latter studying literary phenomena without communications, comparing the differences and similarities of literary phenomena
... nd pointing to general literature. Various theories of Comparative Literature are sometimes applied in the study of literary relations but this does not change literary relations. Sometimes, influence study and parallel study are combined in research, with parallel study conducted on the basis of influence study, but such study still does not change the nature of the two kinds of relations. The biggest problem with the study of literary relations is that the two models of research cannot cover all literary relations, as there are in fact other literary relations, which will inevitably lead to various problems: with the present models of literary relation study we cannot study so many literary relations, even though we obviously feel the existence of communications and some similar factors between literatures of different countries, and the feasibility of conducting literary relation study. But influence study cannot be conducted, as no evidences verifying literary relations can be found, and similar factors cannot be attributed to the influence relation of specific texts. Once such similar factors are declared to be resulting from the influence relation of texts, a predicament of insufficient and unreliable evidences may ensue, and even a wrong conclusion may be drawn. If such similar factors are deemed as parallel relations, they do not look like parallel relations, because there are richer similar factors than parallel relations, and it would deviate from facts * ZHANG Zhejun 張哲俊 is professor in school of Chinese Language and Literature of Beijing Normal University.