Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton November 10, 2018

Analysis of the Buddhist Conversion of Great Sage

A corpus-based investigation of textual evidence from the English translation of The Journey to the West

Feng (Robin) Wang and Philippe Humblé
From the journal Chinese Semiotic Studies

Abstract

As one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, The Journey to the West narrates a legendary Buddhist pilgrimage. Until now, the religious conversion in the novel remains much less explored by academia. We propose an innovative approach to addressing this shortfall by conducting a corpus-based investigation into the characterization of the protagonist “Great Sage.” We use the corpus tools BFSU PowerConc 1.0 and LancsBox v.2.0.1 to calculate and visualize the collocation networks of Great Sage: for one thing, to contextualize the complex interactions between him and the external environment; for another, to define and compare different phases of the character’s evolution. The collocational networks are derived by means of a quantitative approach, i.e. a mutual information (MI) score with collocation cutoff values. This lays an objective foundation for a subsequent qualitative interpretation of how the protagonist’s identity is forged in his conversion. Further, some associated literary and theological scholarships are woven into our text-based analysis.

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Published Online: 2018-11-10
Published in Print: 2018-11-27

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston