Origins of Literature in Ancient India and Ancient China

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In The Norton Anthology of World Literature, Indian and Chinese ancient histories are shown to share several distinct similarities. "As in China... civilization in India appears to have begun in a river valley" (881). Both regions span a diverse ethnic population who are unified by the idea of a shared heritage. Each domain was influenced by the idea of a code of conduct. However similar on the surface, a notable difference is the way literature manifested itself in India and China during ancient times. "The Chinese tradition begins with lyric poetry" (812). In India, religious hymns formed the basis of the first writings, but the Mystic Doctrines are evidence that prose dialogues were the favored form of literary expression (882). Evidence shows that Chinese civilization originated in the Yellow River basin (805). Indian civilization began in and around the Indus River valley. It is not remarkable that each of these great civilizations sprang from the land around a river system. Life is drawn to water, and seasonal floods often regenerate the soil around the watershed. The mo...

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