Text topic: What Is Medieval: From the Perspective of Dialogue of the East and the West
Text author: Далибор Кличковић
The issue of impermanence of this worldly existence, not only in humans but shared by all sentient beings, had been, both as a theme and a motive, ubiquitously present in the medieval literature of both Serbia and Japan. Although very different by almost all formal literary criteria, both of them have in common an inherent inclination to the care of the metaphysical status of this world and all its creatures. A seriousness in their relation to the transcendental is the main trait by which their heritage differs from the literature of their respective countries today. That is the very reason why they can be treated in the same dialogical context. Contemporary conscience with its belief that nothing is left to say about the evanescence of the world, gave up this issue to be further dealt with only according to individual needs and randomly. But, both Serbian Christian and Japanese Buddhist medieval mind tended to put this problem right in the middle of almost every literary text. Far from only deploring the transient human fate, people are encouraged to foster everlasting memories of death, just to be able to get saved – either by returning to God, or in Japan, by being reborn in the Buddhist paradise of the Pure Land. Yet, there are some significant differences in the way impermanence is treated in these two traditions. This paper tries to elucidate how these differences were rooted in their respective literary and religious praxis.