Works: "Diary of a Madman"
Xun (or Lu Hsün); real name, Zhou Shuren (or Chou Shu-jen).
Chinese writer and intellectual; author of short stories, poems,
essays, and literary criticism; considered the founder of Modern
Chinese literature and the representative writer of Socialist
Realism; favorite author of Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung)
with the modernization of China; liberation from foreign imperialism;
the abandoning of oppressive and superstitious traditions; issues
of social and economic justice; the plight of the poor and the
peasants; the problems of war, violence and the exploitation of
in 1881, into an educated but impoverished Chinese family
Sendai Provincial Medical School in Japan (1904); eventually abandoned
medicine to pursue writing
decision to become a writer is said to have been motivated by
his horror at seeing images of the execution of a Chinese prisoner
during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and noticing the indifference
of a crowd of Chinese onlookers
the New Culture Movement in 1918, when he had his famous story
"Diary of a Madman" published in New Youth magazine
to embrace Marxism in the early 1920s, but refused to join it
1912 to 1926, he held a post in the Ministry of Education in Beijing
by the authorities, in 1926, because of his support for Beijing
the magazine The Torrent in 1928
of the founders of the China League of Left-Wing Writers, which
was established in Shanghai in March 1930; remained its chief
leader until he died
literature instructor at National Beijing University (1920-26);
also taught at Xiamen University (1927) and University of Canton
of the magazines Benliu in 1928 and Yiwen in 1934
from tuberculosis on October 19, 1936 in Shanghai
To Arms (Cheering from the Sidelines) (Na-Han)
(1922), his first collection of stories, includes his most
celebrated stories such as "Diary
of a Madman" (1918) and "The True Story of Ah
Q" which depicts an ignorant farm laborer who goes through
a series of humiliations and finally is executed during the
chaos of the revolution of 1911.
(Hesitation) (Pang Huang) (1925), his second collection
of stories, includes his second best-known story, "The
New-Year Sacrifice," in which Lu Xun sketches the life
of an ordinary working woman. Through his exploration of her
life and heart, Lu Xun makes a profound analysis of society
-- displaying the social pressures she faces and hinting at
the inhuman Confucian morality destroying her hopes and sense
Grass (Ye Cao) (1926), a collection of prose poems
where Lu Xun describes his feelings in relation to the Chinese
struggles against imperialism and the Northern warlords.
Blossoms Plucked at Dusk (Chao-hua hsi-shih) (1926),
a collection of essays dealing with Lu Xun's childhood and
Tales Retold (Gu Shi Xin Bian) (1935), his third collection
of short stories, where Lu Xun retells old Chinese stories
from his own perspective.
A strict code of ethics based on the teachings of the ancient
philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC); Confucianism emphasizes obedience
to authority, submission of the individual to government, the
family, and elders, and unquestioning acceptance of tradition;
the Confucian idea of Ren can be translated as "benevolence,"
"love," "goodness," and "humanity."
Lu Xun attacked Confucianism as an oppressive and hypocritical
morality thinly concealing and encouraging exploitation, injustice,
inequality, passivity, and conformity.
(Qing or Manchu) Dynasty (1644-1912). A deeply conservative,
ineffective, and corrupt regime, especially during the late 19th
and early 20th centuries; Ch'ing rule in that period was accompanied
by widespread famine across China, high taxes, and bureaucratic
corruption and inefficiency. The Opium Wars (1839-1842, 1856-1860),
the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), and the Boxer Rebellion (1900)
led to the steady deterioration of the Chinese situation and the
subjection of China to Western powers. The abysmal conditions of
life in China during the late Ch'ing dynasty paved the way to the
nationalist and communist revolutions of the 20th century and to
the formation of writers like Lu Xun.
(1839-1842), waged by Britain against China; it arose from China's
attempts to suppress the opium trade conducted by British traders
who had been illegally exporting opium to China, resulting in widespread
addiction and causing serious social and economic problems in the
country; the war forced China to open her gates to foreign imperialism
and ever-increasing encroachment on her territory and sovereignty;
a Second Opium War (1856-1860) was waged by France and Britain
against China; these wars constitute examples of the exploitation
of the Chinese by foreign imperialist powers and are an important
part of the historical motivation for the nationalism of Lu Xun
and other writers.
War (1894-1895). Conflict between China and Japan over control
of Korea. Japan was victorious and China was forced to recognize
Rebellion (1900). A peasant revolt in China with the aim of
expelling all foreigners. The Boxers (initially members of a secret
sect) were specially hostile to Christian missionaries. The movement
was supported by the Ch'ing government. After massacres of foreigners
broke out, an international force occupied Peking (Beijing) and
forced the Chinese government to end its support of the uprising.
War (1904-1905). Conflict between Russia and Japan over control
of Korea and Manchuria. The Japanese were victorious and halted
Russian expansion in the East. Images of a Chinese prisoner being
executed by the Japanese during this conflict are said to have motivated
Lu Xun to become a writer.
Revolution of 1911, ended the Ch'ing Dynasty, led to the establishment
of the Republic of China in 1912 and the formation of SunYat-sen's
Nationalist Party (Kuomintang). Lu Xun's "The True Story of
Ah Q" gives a picture of the 1911 Revolution.
Culture Movement, began in 1915, initiated by professors and
students calling for liberal democracy and social equality; rejection
of Confucianism and traditionalism; and embracing of popular forms
of the Chinese language (baihua) for literary use.
4th Movement, 1919, intellectual revolution and sociopolitical
reform movement directed toward national independence, emancipation
of the individual, and rebuilding of society and culture. Lu Xun
wrote most of his short stories in the years before and after (1918-1926)
the May 4th Movement.
Zedong (Mao Tse-tung, 1893-1976) Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier,
and statesman who led his nation's communist revolution. Leader
of the Chinese Communist Party from 1931 until his death. Chairman
of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1959. Mao greatly
admired the writings of Lu Xun.
Fajardo-Acosta gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Jung-Joon
Ihm in the creation of this page
2001, 2002 by Fidel Fajardo-Acosta,
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