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The Inclusivity of Literature: The metamorphic elements within Golding’s Metamorphoses (1567) and Journey to the West (1592)

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Organizer: Xiaoyu Gao

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Gender, race and class are generally addressed when speaking of inclusivity. Instead of addressing literary issues in this paper, I argue that inclusivity is created within the literature, within the usage of similar elements and subjects. In this sense, literature has the surprising power to create an inclusive space and gather people all over the world together. Regardless of the time, ethnicity, race, gender and geographical location, literature creates an inclusive space for people who share the same interests. The literary field has conducted studies in the symbolism and representation of metamorphosis on a solo literary text; there is a lack of comparison among multiple texts with metamorphic elements. In this paper, the analysis of metamorphic elements in both Metamorphoses and Journey to the West will help to fill this literary gap, and most importantly to probe how literature can create an inclusive space through the lens of metamorphosis.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses is the western epic that explores the fluid dimensions of the world from its creation to the death of Julius Caesar. The version discussed here is the translation from Latin to English by Arthur Golding in the 16th century. Around the same time period, Wu Cheng'en’s Journey to the West as one of the Chinese classic novels was published. It portrays a monk’s journey to the western regions of China in his search for holy scriptures. Although with different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, both books portray gods—their metamorphosis and their relationship with human beings. Without metamorphosis, these two epics will lose the core and will not be the same. More importantly, this metamorphic element from both books connects three authors (Ovid, Golding and Wu) from different periods, locations and backgrounds together. This paper will conduct a close interpretation of the metamorphic usage in Metamorphoses and Journey to the West, thus examining how inclusive space created as early as the 16th century connects people around the world together.


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