Piety in Classical to the Contemporary East Asian Fictions

    • Cover Venice
    • Presentation speakers
      • Maji C. Rhee, Waseda University Tokyo, Japan


    This article analyzes the unique aspects of the Confucian notion of piety and how the value continues to serve as a literary theme. Three classical literary works in Japan, Korea, and China are selected to critically analyze “piety” as a literary archetype. The notion of “piety” in The Tale of Genji (Japan), The Nine Cloud Dream (Korea), and The Collected Poems of Li Bai (China) are analyzed in comparison to fictionalization of the post-modern fictions in East Asia. Max Weber, in his famous book titled, The Religion of China, stated that “piety” and “propriety” are two core Confucian notions. The Confucian notion of piety is different from the “piety” or “pious reverence to the God” in ancient Greek idea of “one’s dutiful conduct.” The Confucian piety is more related to a person’s moral obligation to his/her parents. Piety can be extended to a wife’s reverence or “obedience” to her husband. Many studies have focused on the Confucian notion of piety from a comparative philosophical perspective. However, few studies have approached Confucian piety within the literary context. This article is to present a neglected link between Confucian value of “piety,” “benevolence,” and “virtue” reflected in the core classical Asian literature and how the values persist in the post-modern Japanese, Korean, and Chinese fictions.