Gesture and the Movements of Literary Creativity: Lu Ji’s “Rhapsody on Literature”

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“That ’tis as great a fault to judge ill, as to write ill, and a more dangerous one to the public..” —Alexander Pope, “An Essay on Criticism” (1711) In his work of meta-literature, “Rhapsody on Literature,” Lu Ji (261–303) expounds his theories on the creative act. The rhapsody lays out the entire writing process, from reading, assimilation, and imagination or mnemonic recall to writing and its host of challenges, raising thorny questions about originality and tradition, and conception and representation. His discourse points to an overarching concern with the workings of literary creativity. The notion of gesture is key to understanding his theory of creativity, for it outlines the fitful movements and signifying potentiality of incipient ideas in the changeable current of mental cogitations and the flow and flux of language. This essay explores the figuration of gesture in Lu Ji’s theory of literary creativity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-100
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Medieval China
Issue number27
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


  • creativity
  • language
  • Lu Ji
  • “Rhapsody on Literature,” gesture


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