A Morally Oriented Crusoe from the West to the East: Brain Text and the Formation of a World Literature Canon

Haifeng Hui

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2022.003912


Robinson Crusoe is a world classic that has well transcended national and historical boundaries. Yet, its popularity with Anglophone and Chinese readers does not imply a similar interpretation of the protagonist and its moral lessons. From the perspective of readers’ reading expectations and interpretations, the brain text of a literary work functions as a negotiating agent in the interplay among the real author, the implied author, the implied reader, and the actual reader in the sense that it both projects prior understanding based on secondhand knowledge about the text and the framework of interpretation in the cognitive dimension during the actual reading experience of the text. This paper1 attempts to adopt the critical concept of the brain text from a narratological lens to explore how the moral lesson of this world classic is negotiated, accepted, and distorted when traveling from its western cultural and historical atmosphere to China, where it is understood and appreciated on somewhat different ground. However, the differences in interpretation, reception, and literary taste interestingly attest to the same obsession in the west and China with the moral values of a literary canon and the intriguing traveling of its brain text.


brain text, literary canon, moral function, Robinson Crusoe

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)