Lu Xun, (
romanisation: Lu Hsün), was the pen name of
Zhou Shuren (25 September 1881 – 19 October 1936), a leading figure
of modern Chinese literature. Writing in
as well as
was a short story writer, editor,
translator, literary critic, essayist, poet, and designer. In the
1930s he became the titular head of the
League of Left-Wing Writers
League of Left-Wing Writers
was born into a family of landlords and government officials in
Shaoxing, Zhejiang; the family's financial resources declined over the
course of his youth. Lu aspired to take the imperial civil service
exam, but due to his family's relative poverty he was forced to attend
government-funded schools teaching "Western education." Upon
graduation, Lu went to medical school in Japan but later dropped out.
He became interested in studying literature but was eventually forced
to return to China due to his family's lack of funds. After returning
to China, Lu worked for several years teaching at local secondary
schools and colleges before finally finding a job at the Republic of
China Ministry of Education.
After the 1919 May Fourth Movement, Lu Xun's writing began to exert a
substantial influence on
and popular culture. Like
many leaders of the May Fourth Movement, he was primarily a leftist
and liberal. He was highly acclaimed by the Chinese government after
1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, and Mao Zedong
himself was a lifelong admirer of Lu Xun's writing. Though sympathetic
to socialist ideas,
never joined the Communist Party of China.
1.1 Early life
1.3 Early career
1.4 Late career
3 Style and thought
4.5 Translations into English
5 See also
7 External links
Childhood residence of
Lu Xun in Shaoxing
Lu Xun was born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. As was common in pre-modern
Lu Xun had many names. His birth name was "Zhou Zhangshou". His
courtesy name was "Yushan", but he later changed that to "Yucai". In
1898, before he went to the Jiangnan Naval Academy, he took the given
name "Shuren" — which means, figuratively, "to be an educated
man". The name by which he is best known internationally, "Lu Xun",
was a literary pseudonym that he chose when his fiction was first
published, in 1918.
By the time
Lu Xun was born, the Zhou family had been prosperous for
centuries, and had become wealthy through landowning, pawnbroking, and
by having several family members promoted to government positions. His
paternal grandfather, Zhou Fuqing, was appointed to the Imperial
Hanlin Academy in Beijing: the highest position possible for aspiring
civil servants at that time. Lu's early education was based on the
Confucian classics, in which he studied poetry, history, and
philosophy — subjects which, he later reflected, were neither useful
nor interesting to him. Instead, he enjoyed folk stories and
traditions: local operas, the mythological creatures and stories in
the Classic of Mountains and Seas, and the ghost stories told to him
by an illiterate servant who raised him, Ah Chang (whom he called
"Mother Chang"). Zhou's mother was a member of the same landed
gentry class as Lu Xun's father, from a slightly smaller town in the
countryside (Anqiaotou, Zhejiang). Because formal education was not
considered socially appropriate for girls, she did not receive any,
but she still taught herself how to read and write. The surname "Lu"
in Zhou Shouren's pen name, "Lu Xun", was the same as his mother's
By the time Lu was born, his family's prosperity had already been
declining. His father, Zhou Boyi, had been successful at passing the
lowest, county-level imperial examinations (the route to wealth and
social success in imperial China), but was unsuccessful in writing the
more competitive provincial-level examinations. In 1893 Zhou Boyi was
discovered attempting to bribe an examination official. Lu Xun's
grandfather was implicated, and was arrested and sentenced to
beheading for his son's crime. The sentence was later commuted, and he
was imprisoned in
Hangzhou instead. After the affair, Zhou Boyi was
stripped of his position in the government and forbidden to ever again
write the civil service examinations. The Zhou family only
prevented Lu's grandfather from being executed through regular,
expensive bribes to authorities, until he was finally released in
After the family's attempt at bribery was discovered, Zhou Boyi
engaged in heavy drinking and opium use, and his health declined.
Local Chinese doctors attempted to cure him through a series of
expensive prescriptions of traditional Chinese remedies, including
monogamous crickets, sugar cane that had survived frost three times,
ink, and the skin from a drum. Despite these expensive treatments,
Zhou Boyi died of an asthma attack in 1896. He might have suffered
Lu Xun in his youth
Lu Xun half-heartedly participated in one civil service examination,
in 1899, but then abandoned pursuing a traditional Confucian education
or career. He intended to study at a prestigious school, the
"Seeking Affirmation Academy", in Hangzhou, but was forced by his
family's poverty to study at a tuition-free military school, the
"Jiangnan Naval Academy", in Nanjing, instead. As a consequence of
Lu's decision to attend a military school specializing in Western
education, his mother wept, he was instructed to change his name (to
avoid disgracing his family), and some of his relatives began to
look down on him. Lu attended the Jiangnan Naval Academy for half a
year, and left after it became clear that he would be assigned to work
in an engine room, below deck, which he considered degrading. He
later wrote that he was dissatisfied with the quality of teaching at
the academy. After leaving the school, Lu sat for the lowest level
of the civil service exams, and finished 137th of 500. He intended to
sit for the next-highest level, but became upset when one of his
younger brothers died, and abandoned his plans.
Lu Xun transferred to another government-funded school, the "School of
Mines and Railways", and graduated from that school in 1902. The
school was Lu's first exposure to Western literature, philosophy,
history, and science, and he studied English and German intensively.
Some of the influential authors that he read during that period
include T. H. Huxley, John Stuart Mill, Yan Fu, and Liang Qichao. His
later social philosophy may have been influenced by several novels
about social conflict that he read during the period, including
Ivanhoe and Uncle Tom's Cabin.
He did very well at the school with relatively little effort, and
occasionally experienced racism directed at him from resident Manchu
bannermen. The racism he experienced may have influenced his later
Han Chinese nationalism. After graduating
Lu Xun planned
to become a Western doctor.
Lu Xun left for Japan on a Qing government scholarship to
pursue an education in Western medicine. After arriving in Japan he
attended the "Kobun Institute", a preparatory language school for
Chinese students attending Japanese universities. After encouragement
from a classmate, he cut off his queue (which all
Han Chinese were
legally forced to wear in China) and practiced jujutsu in his free
time. He had an ambiguous attitude towards Chinese revolutionary
politics during the period, and it is not clear whether he joined any
of the revolutionary parties (such as the Tongmenghui) that were
popular among Chinese expatriates in Japan at that time. He
experienced anti-Chinese racism, but was simultaneously disgusted with
the behaviour of some Chinese who were living in Japan. His earliest
surviving essays, written in Classical Chinese, were published while
he was attending this school, and he published his first Chinese
translations of famous and influential Western novels, including Jules
From the Earth to the Moon
From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Center of the
In 1904, Lu began studying at the
Sendai Medical Academy, in northern
Honshu, but remained there for less than two years. He generally found
his studies at the school tedious and difficult, partially due to his
imperfect Japanese. While studying in
Sendai he befriended one of his
professors, Fujino Genkurō, who helped him prepare class notes.
Because of their friendship Lu was accused by his classmates of
receiving special assistance from Fujino. Lu later recalled his
mentor respectfully and affectionately in an essay, "Mr Fujino",
published in Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk. This essay, today one of
his most publicly renowned works, is in the middle school literature
curriculum in China. Fujino later repaid Lu's respect in an obituary
essay on his death, in 1937. The
Sendai Medical Academy is now the
medical school of Tohoku University.
An execution scene, possibly viewed by
Lu Xun in 1905.
Lu Xun was attending medical school, the Russo-Japanese War
(1904–1905) broke out. Part of the war was fought on disputed
Chinese land. While the war was being fought it became common for
lecturers to show slides of pictures from the war to their students
after their classes had ended. After one of his biology classes Lu was
shown a scene in which a Japanese soldier was about to behead a
Chinese man who had allegedly spied for the Russians, surrounded by
Chinese who were apathetic to the scene. In his preface to Nahan, the
first collection of his short stories, Lu explained how viewing this
scene influenced him to quit studying Western medicine, and to become
a literary physician to what he perceived to be China's spiritual
At the time, I hadn't seen any of my fellow Chinese in a long time,
but one day some of them showed up in a slide. One, with his hands
tied behind him, was in the middle of the picture; the others were
gathered around him. Physically, they were as strong and healthy as
anyone could ask, but their expressions revealed all too clearly that
spiritually they were calloused and numb. According to the caption,
the Chinese whose hands were bound had been spying on the Japanese
military for the Russians. He was about to be decapitated as a 'public
example.' The other Chinese gathered around him had come to enjoy the
In March 1906,
Lu Xun abruptly and secretly terminated his pursuit of
the degree and left college. At the time he told no one. After
arriving in Tokyo he made sure that the Chinese embassy would not
cancel his scholarship and registered at the local German Institute,
but was not required to take classes there. He began to read
Nietzsche, and wrote a number of essays in the period that were
influenced by his philosophy.
In June 1906, Lu's mother heard a rumor that he had married a Japanese
girl and had a child with her, and feigned illness as a pretext to ask
Lu to return home, where she would then force him to take part in an
arranged marriage she had agreed to several years before. The girl,
Zhu An, had little in common with Lu, was illiterate, and had bound
Lu Xun married her, but they never had a romantic
relationship. Despite that fact, Lu took care of her material needs
for the rest of his life. Several days after the ceremony Lu sailed
back to Japan with his younger brother, Zuoren, and left behind his
After returning to Japan he took informal classes in literature and
history, published several essays in student-run journals, and in
1907 he briefly took Russian lessons. He attempted to found a literary
journal with his brother, New Life, but before its first publication
its other writers and its financial backers all abandoned the project,
and it failed. In 1909 Lu published a translation of Eastern European
fiction, Tales from Abroad, but the book sold only 41 copies of the
1,500 copies that were printed. The publication failed for many
reasons: it was sold only in Tokyo (which did not have a large Chinese
population) and a single silk shop in Shanghai; Chinese readers may
not have been interested in Eastern European culture; and, Lu wrote in
Classical Chinese, which was very difficult for ordinary people to
1918 printed edition of A Madman's Diary, collection of the Beijing Lu
Lu intended to study in Germany in 1909, but did not have sufficient
funds, and was forced to return home. Between 1909 and 1911 he held a
number of brief teaching positions at local colleges and secondary
schools that he felt were unsatisfying, partly to support his brother
Zuoren's studies in Japan.
Lu spent these years in traditional Chinese literary pursuits:
collecting old books, researching pre-modern Chinese fiction,
reconstructing ancient tombstone inscriptions, and compiling the
history of his native town, Shaoxing. He explained to an old friend
that his activities were not "scholarship", but "a substitute for
'wine and women'". In his personal letters he expressed disappointment
about his own failure, China's political situation, and his family's
continuing impoverishment. In 1911 he returned to Japan to retrieve
his brother, Zuoren, so that Zuoren could help with the family
finances. Zuoren wanted to remain in Japan to study French, but Lu
wrote that "French... does not fill stomachs." He encouraged another
brother, Jianren, to become a botanist. He began to drink heavily,
a habit he continued for the rest of his life. In 1911 he wrote his
first short story, Nostalgia, but he was so disappointed with it that
he threw it away. Zuoren saved it, and had it successfully published
two years later under his own name.
In February 1912, shortly after the
Xinhai Revolution that ended the
Qing dynasty and nominally founded the Republic of China, Lu gained a
position at the national Ministry of Education. He was hired in
Nanjing, but then moved with the ministry to Beijing, where he lived
from 1912–1926. At first, his work consisted almost completely
of copying books, but he was later appointed Section Head of the
Social Education Division, and eventually to the position of Assistant
Secretary. Two of his major accomplishments in office were the
renovation and expansion of the Beijing Library, the establishment of
the Natural History Museum, and the establishment of the Library of
Qian Daosun and
Xu Shoushang he designed the Twelve
Symbols national emblem in 1912.
Between 1912 and 1917 he was a member of an ineffectual censorship
committee, informally studied Buddhist sutras, lectured on fine arts,
wrote and self-published a book on the history of Shaoxing, and edited
and self-published a collection of Tang and
Song dynasty folk
stories. He collected and self-published an authoritative book on
the work of an ancient poet, Ji Kang, and wrote a A Brief History of
Chinese Fiction, a work which, because traditional scholars had not
valued fiction, had little precedent in China. After Yuan Shikai
declared himself the Emperor of China in 1915, Lu was briefly forced
to participate in rituals honoring Confucius, which he ridiculed in
In 1917, an old friend of Lu's, Qian Xuantong, invited Lu to write for
New Youth, a radical populist literary magazine that had recently been
founded by Chen Duxiu. At first Lu was skeptical that his writing
could serve any social purpose, and told Qian: "Imagine an iron house:
without windows or doors, utterly indestructible, and full of sound
sleepers – all about to suffocate to death. Let them die in their
sleep, and they will feel nothing. Is it right to cry out, to rouse
the light sleepers among them, causing them inconsolable agony before
they die?" Qian replied that it was, because if the sleepers were
awoken, "there was still hope – hope that the iron house may one day
be destroyed". Shortly afterwards, in 1918 Lu wrote the first short
story published in his name, Diary of a Madman, for the magazine.
After the publication of Diary of a Madman, the story was praised for
its anti-traditionalism, its synthesis of Chinese and foreign
conventions and ideas, and its skillful narration, and Lu became
recognized as one of the leading writers of the New Culture
Movement. Lu continued writing for the magazine, and produced his
most famous stories for
New Youth between 1917 and 1921. These stories
were collected and re-published in Nahan ("Outcry") in 1923.
In 1919, Lu moved his family from
Shaoxing to a large compound in
Beijing, where he lived with his mother, his two brothers, and
their Japanese wives. This living arrangement lasted until 1923, when
Lu had a falling out with his brother, Zuoren, after which Zuoren
moved with his wife and mother to a separate house. Neither Lu nor
Zuoren ever publicly explained the reason for their disagreement, but
Zuoren's wife later accused Lu of making sexual advances towards
her. Some writers have speculated that their relationship may have
worsened as a result of issues related to money, that Lu walked in on
Zuoren's wife bathing, or that Lu had an inappropriate "relationship"
with Zuoren's wife in Japan that Zuoren later discovered. After the
falling out with Zuoren, Lu became depressed.
In 1920, Lu began to lecture part-time at several colleges, including
Peking University, Beijing Normal University, and Beijing Women's
College, where he taught traditional fiction and literary theory. His
lecture notes were later collected and published as a A Brief History
of Chinese Fiction. He was able to work part-time because he only
worked at the Education Ministry three days a week for three hours a
day. In 1923 he lost his front teeth in a rickshaw accident, and in
1924 he developed the first symptoms of tuberculosis. In 1925 he
founded a journal, Wilderness, and established the "Weiming Society"
in order to support young writers and encourage the translation of
foreign literature into Chinese.
In 1925, Lu began what may have been his first meaningful romantic
relationship, with one of his students at the Beijing Women's College,
Xu Guangping. In March 1926 there was a mass student protest
against the warlord Feng Yuxiang's collaboration with the Japanese.
The protests degenerated into a massacre, in which two of Lu's
students from Beijing Women's College were killed. Lu's public support
for the protesters forced him to flee from the local authorities.
Later in 1926, when the warlord troops of
Zhang Zuolin and Wu Peifu
took over Beijing, Lu left northern China and fled to Xiamen.
After arriving in Xiamen, later in 1926, Lu began a teaching position
Xiamen University, but he was disappointed by the petty
disagreements and unfriendliness of the university's faculty. During
the short time he lived in Xiamen, Lu wrote his last collection of
fiction, Old Tales Retold (which was not published until several years
later), and most of his autobiography, published as Dawn Blossoms
Plucked at Dusk. He also published a collection of prose poetry, Wild
In January 1927, he and Xu moved to Guangzhou, where he was hired as
the head of the
Chinese literature department.
His first act in his position was to hire Xu as his "personal
assistant", and to hire one of his old classmates from Japan, Xu
Shoushang, as a lecturer. While in Guangzhou, he edited numerous poems
and books for publication, and served as a guest lecturer at Whampoa
Academy. He made contacts within the
Kuomintang and the Chinese
Communist Party through his students. After the
Shanghai massacre in
April 1927, he attempted to secure the release of several students
through the university, but failed. His failure to save his students
led him to resign from his position at the university, and he left for
the foreign settlement of
Shanghai in September 1927. By the time he
left Guangzhou, he was one of the most famous intellectuals in
In 1927 Lu was considered for the Nobel Prize in Literature, for the
short story The True Story of Ah Q, despite a poor English translation
and annotations that were nearly double the size of the text. Lu
rejected the possibility of accepting the nomination. Later, he
renounced writing fiction or poetry in response to China's
deteriorating political situation and his own poor emotional state,
and restricted himself to writing argumentative essays.
Lu Xun with
Xu Guangping and their son, Zhou Haiying.
In 1929, he visited his dying mother, and reported that she was
pleased at the news of Guangping's pregnancy.
Xu Guangping gave
birth to a son, Haiying, on 27 September 1929. She was in labor with
the baby for 27 hours. The child's name meant simply "Shanghai
infant". His parents chose the name thinking that he could change it
himself later, but he never did so. Haiying was Lu Xun's only
After moving to Shanghai, Lu rejected all regular teaching positions
(though he sometimes gave guest lectures at different campuses), and
for the first time was able to make a living solely as a professional
writer, with a monthly income of roughly 500 yuan. He was also
appointed by the government as a "specially appointed writer" by the
national Ministry of Higher Education, which brought him an additional
300 yuan/month. He began to study and identify with Marxist political
theory, made contact with local Communist Party members, and became
involved in literary disputes with other leftist writers in the city.
In 1930 Lu became one of the co-founders of the League of Left-Wing
Writers, but shortly after he moved to
Shanghai other leftist writers
accused him of being "an evil feudal remnant", the "best spokesman of
the bourgeoisie", and "a counterrevolutionary split personality". The
CCP may have secretly initiated these attacks, but later called them
off. The League continued in various forms until 1936, when the
constant disputes among its members led the CCP to dissolve it.
In January 1931, the
Kuomintang passed new, stricter censorship laws,
allowing for writers producing literature deemed "endangering the
public" or "disturbing public order" to be imprisoned for life or
executed. Later that month he went into hiding. In early February,
less than a month later, the
Kuomintang executed twenty-four local
writers (including five that belonged to the League) that they had
arrested under this law. After the execution of the "24 Longhua
Martyrs" (in addition to other students, friends, and
associates), Lu's political views became distinctly
anti-Kuomintang. In 1933 Lu met Edgar Snow. Snow asked Lu if there
were any Ah Q's left in China. Lu responded, "It's worse now. Now it's
Ah Q's who are running the country."
Although he had renounced writing fiction years before, in 1934 he
published his last collection of short stories, Old Tales Retold.
In 1935 he sent a telegram to Communist forces in Shaanxi
congratulating them on the recent completion of their Long March. The
Communist Party requested that he write a novel about the communist
revolution set in rural China, but he declined, citing his lack of
background and understanding of the subject.
Lu Xun 11 days before his death. Photograph by Sha Fei.
Lu Xun's casket.
Lu Xun's tomb, in Shanghai.
Lu sent a telegram congratulating the CCP on their completion of the
Long March in February 1936. He was a heavy smoker, which may have
contributed to the deterioration of his health throughout the year. By
1936 he had developed chronic tuberculosis, and in March of that year
he was stricken with bronchitic asthma and a fever. The treatment for
this involved draining 300 grams of fluid in the lungs through a
puncture. From June to August, he was again sick, and his weight
dropped to only 83 pounds. He recovered somewhat, and wrote two essays
in the fall reflecting on mortality. These included "Death", and "This
Too Is Life". A month before his death, he wrote: "Hold the
funeral quickly... do not stage any memorial services. Forget about
me, and care about your own life – you're a fool if you don't."
Regarding his son, he wrote: "On no account let him become a
good-for-nothing writer or artist."
At 3:30 am on the morning of 18 October, the author woke with great
difficulty breathing. Dr. Sudo, his physician, was summoned, and Lu
Xun took injections to relieve the pain. His wife was with him
throughout that night, but
Lu Xun was found without a pulse at 5:11am
the next morning, 19 October. Lu's remains were interred in a
Lu Xun Park in Shanghai.
Mao Zedong later made the
calligraphic inscription above his tomb. He was survived by his son,
Zhou Haiying. He was posthumously made a member of the Communist Party
for his contributions to the May Fourth Movement.
Lu Xun in Kiskőrös, Hungary.
Shortly after Lu Xun's death,
Mao Zedong called him "the saint of
modern China," but used his legacy selectively to promote his own
political goals. In 1942 he quoted Lu out of context to tell his
audience to be "a willing ox" like
Lu Xun was, but told writers and
artists who believed in freedom of expression that, because Communist
areas were already "free", they did not need to be like Lu Xun. After
the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, Communist
Party literary theorists portrayed his work as orthodox examples of
communist literature, yet every one of Lu's close disciples from the
1930s was purged. Mao admitted that, had Lu survived until the 1950s,
he would "either have gone silent or gone to prison".
Party leaders depicted him as "drawing the blueprint of the communist
Mao Zedong defined him as the "chief commander of China's
Cultural Revolution," although Lu did not join the party. During the
1920s and 1930s
Lu Xun and his contemporaries often met informally for
freewheeling intellectual discussions, but after the founding of the
People's Republic in 1949 the Party sought more control over
intellectual life in China, and this type of intellectual independence
was suppressed, often violently. Finally, Lu Xun's satirical and
ironic writing style itself was discouraged, ridiculed, then as often
as possible destroyed. Mao wrote that "the style of the essay should
not simply be like Lu Xun's. [In a Communist society] we can shout at
the top of our voices and have no need for veiled and round-about
expressions, which are hard for the people to understand". During the
Cultural Revolution, the Communist Party both hailed
Lu Xun as one of
the fathers of communism in China, yet ironically suppressed the very
intellectual culture and style of writing that he represented. Some of
his essays and writings are now part of the primary school and middle
school compulsory curriculum in China, but in 2007 some of his
bleaker works were removed from school textbooks. Julia Lovell, who
has translated Lu Xun's writing, speculated that "perhaps also it was
an attempt to discourage the youth of today from Lu Xun's
inconveniently fault-finding habits."
Lu completed volumes of translations, notably from Russian. He
Nikolai Gogol and made a translation of Dead
Souls. His own first story's title, "Diary of a Madman", was inspired
by a work of Gogol of the same name. As a left-wing writer, Lu played
an important role in the development of modern Chinese literature. His
books were and remain highly influential and popular today, both in
China and internationally. Lu Xun's works appear in high school
textbooks in both China and Japan. He is known to Japanese by the name
Rojin (ロジン in
Katakana or 魯迅 in Kanji).
Because of his leftist political involvement and of the role his works
played in the subsequent history of the People's Republic of China, Lu
Xun's works were banned in Taiwan until the late 1980s. He was among
the early supporters of the
Esperanto movement in China.
Lu Xun has been described by Nobel laureate
Kenzaburō Ōe as "The
greatest writer Asia produced in the twentieth century." Lu Xun's
importance to modern
Chinese literature lies in the fact that he
contributed significantly to nearly every modern literary medium
during his lifetime. He wrote in a clear lucid style which was to
influence many generations, in stories, prose poems and essays. Lu
Xun's two short story collections, Nahan (A Call to Arms or Outcry)
and Panghuang (Wandering), are often taken to mark the beginning of
modern Chinese literature, and are established classics. Lu Xun's
translations were important in a time when Western literature was
seldom read, and his literary criticisms remain acute and persuasively
The work of
Lu Xun has also received attention outside of China. In
1986, Fredric Jameson cited "A Madman's Diary" as the "supreme
example" of the "national allegory" form that all Third World
literature takes. Gloria Davies compares
Lu Xun to Nietzsche,
saying that both were "trapped in the construction of a modernity
which is fundamentally problematic". According to Leonardo
Lu Xun cultivates an ambiguous standpoint towards
Nietzsche, a mixture of attraction and repulsion, the latter because
of Nietzsche's excesses in style and content.
A major literature prize in China, the
Lu Xun Literary Prize is named
after him. Asteroid (233547) 2007 JR27 was named after him.
A crater on Mercury is named after him.
Shi Lu adopted the second half of his pen name due to his
admiration for Lu Xun.
Style and thought
Lu Xun was a versatile writer. He wrote using both traditional Chinese
conventions and 19th century European literary forms. His style has
been described in equally broad terms, conveying both "sympathetic
engagement" and "ironic detachment" at different moments. His
essays are often very incisive in his societal commentary, and in his
stories his mastery of the vernacular language and tone make some of
his literary works (like "The True Story of Ah Q") hard to convey
through translation. In them, he frequently treads a fine line between
criticizing the follies of his characters and sympathizing with those
Lu Xun was a master of irony and satire (as can be seen
in "The True Story of Ah Q") and yet can write impressively direct
with simple engagement ("My Old Home", "A Little Incident").
Lu Xun is typically regarded by
Mao Zedong as the most influential
Chinese writer who was associated with the May Fourth Movement. He
produced harsh criticism of social problems in China, particularly in
his analysis of the "Chinese national character". He was sometimes
called a "champion of common humanity."[by whom?]
Lu Xun felt that the 1911
Xinhai Revolution had been a failure. In
1925 he opined, "I feel the so-called Republic of China has ceased to
exist. I feel that, before the revolution, I was a slave, but shortly
after the revolution, I have been cheated by slaves and have become
their slave." He even recommended that his readers heed the critique
of Chinese culture in Chinese Characteristics, by the missionary
writer Arthur Smith. His disillusionment with politics led him to
conclude in 1927 that "revolutionary literature" alone could not bring
about radical change. Rather, "revolutionary men" needed to lead a
revolution using force. In the end, he experienced profound
disappointment with the new Nationalist government, which he viewed as
ineffective and even harmful to China.
"What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?" A
Talk given at the Beijing
Women's Normal College, 26 December 1923. Ding Ling and Lu Hsun, The
Power of Weakness. The Feminist Press (2007) 84–93.
(lectures given 1923–24)
A Brief History of Chinese Fiction
A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Foreign
languages Press, 1959. Translated by G. Yang and H.Y. Yang) It not
only ended an era of sparse literary analysis, but also set a new
benchmark for Chinese literary history.
Guo Moruo called it one of the
two stars of Chinese modern academic history along with Wang Guowei's
"History of Song and Yuan Opera".
"Nostalgia" was his first short story, it appeared in 1909.
from Call to Arms (1922)
A Madman's Diary" (1918)
"Kong Yiji" (1918)
"An Incident" (1920)
"The Story of Hair" (1920)
"A Storm in a Teacup" (1920)
"The True Story of Ah Q" (1921)
"The Double Fifth Festival" (1922)
"The White Light" (1922)
"The Rabbits and the Cat" (1922)
"The Comedy of the Ducks" (1922)
"Village Opera" (1922)
"New Year Sacrifice" (1924)
In the Drinking House (1924)
A Happy Family (1924)
The Eternal Flame (1924)
Public Exhibition (1925)
Old Mr. Gao (1925)
The Misanthrope (1925)
from "Old Tales Retold" (1935)
Mending Heaven (1935)
The Flight to the Moon (1926)
Curbing the Flood (1935)
Gathering Vetch (1935)
Forging the Swords (1926)
Going out (1935) = Leaving the Pass
Opposing Aggression (1934)
Resurrect the Dead (1935)
My Views on Chastity (1918)
What is Required to be a Father Today (1919)
Knowledge is a Crime (1919)
My Moustache (1924)
Thoughts Before the Mirror (1925)
On Deferring Fair Play (1925)
Call to Arms (Na han) (1923)
Wandering (Pang huang) (1925)
A Brief History of Chinese Fiction
A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilüe) (1925)
a substantial study of pre-modern Chinese literature
Old Tales Retold (Gu shi xin bian) (1935)
Wild Grass (Ye cao) （1927）
Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk (Zhao hua xi shi)（1932） a collection
of essays about his youth
Translations into English
Lu Xun's works became known to English readers as early as 1926 with
the publication in
Shanghai of The True Story of Ah Q, translated by
George Kin Leung, and more widely beginning in 1936 with an anthology
Edgar Snow and
Nym Wales Living China, Modern Chinese Short
Stories, in which Part One included seven of Lu Xun's stories and a
short biography based on Snow's talks with Lu Xun. However, there
was not a complete translation of the fiction until the four volume
set of his writings, which included Selected Stories of Lu Hsun
Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang. Another full selection
was William A. Lyell. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories. (Honolulu:
University of Hawaii Press, 1990). In 2009,
Penguin Classics published
a complete translation by
Julia Lovell of his fiction, The Real Story
of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of
Lu Xun which
the scholar Jeffrey Wasserstrom said "could be considered the most
significant Penguin Classic ever published."
The Lyrical Lu Xun: a Study of his Classical-style Verse—a book by
Jon Eugene von Kowallis (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996)
– includes a complete introduction to Lu Xun's poetry in the
classical style, with Chinese characters, literal and verse
translations, and a biographical introduction which summarizes his
life in relation to his poetry.
Capturing Chinese: Short Stories from Lu Xun's Nahan, edited by Kevin
Nadolny, includes short summaries to Lu Xun's stories, the Chinese
text in simplified characters, pinyin, and definitions for difficult
Zhou Jianren (brother)
Zhou Zuoren (brother)
Lu Xun Literary Institute
Lu Xun Literary Prize
^ Zhou Zuoren. 魯迅的青年時代 (Lu Xun's youth).
河北教育出版社 (Hebei Education Press).
^ Kowallis 10
^ a b c Denton "Early Life"
^ Kowallis 11–12
^ a b c d Lovell 2009 xv
^ a b c d e Denton "WESTERN EDUCATION: 1898–1902"
^ a b c Lovell 2009 xvi
^ a b c d e f g Denton "JAPAN: 1902–09"
^ Kowallis 22
^ Kowallis 20–23
^ a b c d e f Denton "HOME AGAIN"
^ a b Lovell 2009 xviii
^ a b Kowallis 26
^ Lovell 2009 xx
^ Lovell 2009 xxi
^ a b c d e Denton "MAY FOURTH: 1917–26"
^ Lovell 2009 xxv
^ Lovell 2009 xxvi
^ a b c d e f g Denton "MOVE TO THE LEFT: 1927–1936"
^ Kowallis 3
^ Lovell 2006 84
^ Lu & Xu 64
^ Lovell 2009 xxviii
^ Lovell 2009 xxx
^ a b Jenner
^ Lovell xxxii
^ Lovell 2009 xxi–xxxiii
^ Goldman, Merle (September 1982). "The Political Use of Lu Xun". The
China Quarterly. Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of
Oriental and African Studies. 91: 446–447.
doi:10.1017/S0305741000000655. JSTOR 653366.
^ Lovell, Julia (2010-06-12). "China's conscience". Guardian.
^ Jon Kowallis (University of Melbourne) (1996). "Interpreting Lu
Xun". Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR). 18:
^ Jameson, Fredric (Autumn 1986). "Third-World Literature in the Era
of Multinational Capitalism". Social Text. Duke University Press. 15
(15): 65–88. JSTOR 466493.
^ Davies, Gloria (July 1992). "Chinese Literary Studies and
Post-Structuralist Positions: What Next?". The Australian Journal of
Chinese Affairs. Contemporary China Center, Australian National
University. 28 (28): 67–86. doi:10.2307/2950055.
^ Arena, Leonardo Vittorio (2012).
Nietzsche in China in the XXth
^ King, Richard (2010). Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural
Revolution, 1966–76. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
p. 62. ISBN 9888028642.
^ Hesford, Walter (April 1992). "Overt Appropriation". College
English. National Council of Teachers of English. 54 (4): 406–417.
doi:10.2307/377832. JSTOR 377832.
^ Lee, Leo Ou-Fan (July 1976). "Literature on the Eve of Revolution:
Reflections on Lu Xun's Leftist Years, 1927–1936". Modern China.
Sage Publications, Inc. 2 (3): 277–326.
doi:10.1177/009770047600200302. JSTOR 189028. ; Lydia
Liu,"Translating National Character:
Lu Xun and Arthur Smith," Ch 2,
Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated
Modernity: China 1900–1937 (Stanford 1995).
^ Pi, S. (2008). Er shi shi ji zhong guo xin wen xue shi. 1st ed. Gao
xiong shi: Luo tuo chu ban.
^ (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1937. Reprinted: Westport, CT:
Hyperion Press, 1973. ISBN 088355092X.
^ Jeffrey Wasserstrom, UC Irvine, Department of History
^ Wasserstrom, Jeffrey (7 December 2009). "China's Orwell".
^ Capturing Chinese: "Short Stories from Lu Xun’s Nahan"
Arena, Leonardo Vittorio.
Nietzsche in China in the XXth Century.
Davies, Goria. Lu Xun's Revolution: Writing in a Time of Violence.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2013.
Denton, Kirk (2002),
Lu Xun Biography, MCLC Resource Center
Retrieved 24 July 2014.
Jenner, W.J.F. "Lu Xun's Last Days and after". The China Quarterly.
91. (September 1982). 424–445.
Kowallis, Jon. The Lyrical Lu Xun. United States of America:
University of Hawai'i Press. 1996. ISBN 0-8248-1511-4
Lee, Leo Ou-Fan.
Lu Xun and His Legacy. Berkeley: University of
California Press. 1985. ISBN 0520051580.
Lee, Leo Ou-Fan. Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1987. ISBN 0253362636.
Lovell, Julia. The Politics of Cultural Capital: China's Quest for a
Nobel Prize in Literature. United States of America: University of
Hawai'i Press. 2006. ISBN 0-8248-2962-X
Lovell, Julia. "Introduction". In Lu Xun: The Real story of Ah-Q and
Other Tales of China, The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun. England: Penguin
Classics. 2009. ISBN 978-0-140-45548-9.
Lu Xun and Xu Guangping. Love-letters and Privacy in Modern China: The
Intimate Lives of
Lu Xun and Xu Guangping. Ed. McDougall, Bonnie S.
Oxford University Press. 2002.
Lyell, William A. Lu Hsün's Vision of Reality. Berkeley: University
of California Press. 1976. ISBN 0520029402.
Pollard, David E. The True Story of Lu Xun. Hong Kong: Chinese
University Press. 2002. ISBN 9629960605.
Sze, Arthur (Ed.) Chinese Writers on Writing. Arthur Sze. (Trinity
University Press. 2010.
Veg, Sebastian. "David Pollard, The True Story of Lu Xun". China
Perspectives. 51. January–February 2004. Retrieved 23 July 2014.
Kaldis, Nicholas A. The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun's Wild
Grass (Yecao). Cambria Press. 2014. ISBN 9781604978636.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Lu Xun (category)
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Lu Xun
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Special Issue about
Lu Xun (in Japanese) at web.bureau.tohoku.ac.jp
Lu Xun bibliography at u.osu.edu/mclc/
Pioneer of Modern Chinese Literature at www.coldbacon.com
Lu Xun webpage (in Chinese)
Selected works by
Lu Xun (in Taiwanese Mandarin)
A Brief Biography of
Lu Xun with Many Pictures
Lu Xun and Japan(in Japanese)
Kong Yi Ji, Lu Hsun translated by Sparkling English
Lu Xun (Lu Hsun) at www.marxists.org
Selected Stories, Lu Hsun (1918–1926) at www.coldbacon.com
An Outsider's Chats about Written Language, a long essay by
Lu Xun on
the difficulties of Chinese characters
Works by Xun Lu at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Lu Xun at Internet Archive
Lu Xun at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Works by Lu Xun
Stories and novellas
A Madman's Diary
A Madman's Diary (1918)
Kong Yiji (1919)
A Storm in a Teacup (1920)
The Story of Hair
The Story of Hair (1920)
The True Story of Ah Q
The True Story of Ah Q (1921)
Selected Stories of Lu Hsun
A Brief History of Chinese Fiction
The True Story of Ah Q
New Culture Movement
New Culture Movement (1910s–1920s)
Empire of China (1915–1916)
National Protection War
May Fourth Movement
Founding of the Communist Party of China
Republic of China
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