Definition by Comparison? Yun and dhvani: A New Perspective on the Old Question, "Why Compare?"

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


The correspondence between the Chinese concept of yun (“resonance, overtone”) and the Indian concept of dhvani (“sound, resonance”) has been studied longer than some scholars think. Most studies comparing the two are inspired by traditional goals of comparative literature such as finding parallels between different cultures, with or without suggesting that the reason for the parallels is direct influences or the universality of literature. Ji Xianlin (1911-2009), however, introduces Sanskrit dhvani only to define the ambiguous term yun. For Ji, the meaning of the historically indefinite yun is a riddle that cannot be solved directly, but posing the question leads us to many clues that can function as touchstones to test whether dhvani is the answer. Theorizing Ji’s unarticulated method, this paper argues that his comparison offers a new perspective on the old question “why compare?” both for Chinese and for comparative literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1–20
Number of pages20
JournalChinese Literature, Essays, Articles, Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Definition by Comparison? Yun and dhvani: A New Perspective on the Old Question, "Why Compare?"'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this