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On the antique rhetoric of friendship


Nylan, Michael (2014). On the antique rhetoric of friendship. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 68(4):1225-1265.

Abstract

Rhetorical tropes of intimate friendship (you 友) employed in the classical era in China present a stark contrast to those that survive in Latin and classical Greek sources. For this ideal form of friendship was described far less often in terms of the material and psychic advantages that can accrue from alliances outside the immediate family circle than in terms of the propensity for true friendships to foster the development of the singular traits and potentials of each partner in the intimate friendship. This essay argues, contra many social historians, that moderns cannot extract any underlying social realities from the early discussions of the theme, even if our sources allow us to see how certain social exchanges were construed, valued, and promoted by members of the governing elite.

Abstract

Rhetorical tropes of intimate friendship (you 友) employed in the classical era in China present a stark contrast to those that survive in Latin and classical Greek sources. For this ideal form of friendship was described far less often in terms of the material and psychic advantages that can accrue from alliances outside the immediate family circle than in terms of the propensity for true friendships to foster the development of the singular traits and potentials of each partner in the intimate friendship. This essay argues, contra many social historians, that moderns cannot extract any underlying social realities from the early discussions of the theme, even if our sources allow us to see how certain social exchanges were construed, valued, and promoted by members of the governing elite.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:Journals > Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques > Archive > 68 (2014) > 4
Dewey Decimal Classification:Unspecified
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:19 Sep 2016 14:20
Last Modified:19 Sep 2016 14:20
Publisher:De Gruyter
ISSN:0004-4717
Official URL:http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/asia.2014.68.issue-4/asia-2014-0052/asia-2014-0052.xml

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