COMPARATIVE LITERATURE STUDIES Such quibbles aside, Zhang's cross-cultural inquiry into the therapeutic and toxic properties of medicines illuminates the reciprocity of opposites that enriches his extended analysis of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On Zhang's reading, the play is structured along antithetical yet reversible dualities of love and death, medicine and poison, a balance of opposites articulated in the Friar's soliloquy and its portent that good intentions can reverse into catastrophic outcomes. Zhang extends his discussion of returns and reversals in his closing consideration of themes associated with circles and cyclical movement. Reading these images as representing the mind's spiritual quest, Zhang draws connections between Augustine on God, Pascal on nature, and Emily Dickinson on ecstasy, forces symbolized by a "sphere whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere" (100). Zhang also treats ancient Daoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Greek, and Christian texts whose potent symbols of circles and wheels convey images of wanderers that turn back, turn inward, return home, and eventually find peace in inner spiritual contemplation. By highlighting affinities between Latin, English, and Chinese works, Zhang underscores shared visions of natural movement as constant reversals from one to many and back to one, and "from unity by force of
Comparative Literature Studies – Penn State University Press
Published: Nov 27, 2008
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