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Lu Xun

Lu Xun
Traditional Chinese 魯迅
Simplified Chinese 鲁迅
Zhou Zhangshou
Traditional Chinese 周樟壽
Simplified Chinese 周樟寿
Zhou Yushan
Chinese 周豫山
Zhou Yucai
Chinese 周豫才
Zhou Shuren
Traditional Chinese 周樹人
Simplified Chinese

Lu Xun (鲁迅) or Lu Hsün (Wade-Giles), was the pen name of Zhou Shuren (September 25, 1881 – October 19, 1936), a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in Vernacular Chinese as well as Classical Chinese, Lu Xun was a novelist, editor, translator, literary critic, essayist, and poet. In the 1930s he became the titular head of the League of Left-Wing Writers in Shanghai.

Lu Xun's works exerted a substantial influence after the May Fourth Movement that began around 1916. He was highly acclaimed by the Communist regime after 1949, and Mao Zedong himself was a lifelong admirer of Lu Xun's works. Though sympathetic to communist ideas, Lu Xun never actually joined the Chinese Communist Party. Like many leaders of the May Fourth Movement, he was primarily a leftist and liberal.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Education 1.2
    • Early career 1.3
    • Late career 1.4
  • Legacy 2
  • Style and thought 3
  • Works 4
    • Lectures 4.1
    • Stories 4.2
    • Essays 4.3
    • Collections 4.4
    • Translations into English 4.5
  • See also 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • Notes 7
  • External links 8


Early life

Childhood residence of Lu Xun in Shaoxing

Lu Xun was born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. As was common in pre-modern China, Lu Xun had many names. His birth name was "Zhou Zhangshou". His courtesy name was "Yushan", but he later changed his courtesy name to "Yucai". In 1898, before he went to the Jiangnan Naval Academy in 1898, he took the given name "Shuren", which means, figuratively, "to be an educated man".[1] The name that he is best known as in English, "Lu Xun", was a literary pseudonym that he chose when his fiction was first published, in 1918.[2]

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, but 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 (who he called "Mother Chang").[3] Zhou's mother was a member of the same 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 surname, "Lu".[4]

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 write the civil service examinations ever again.[3] The Zhou family prevented Lu's grandfather from being executed only through regular, expensive bribes to authorities, until he was finally released in 1901.[5]

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, quack prescriptions, including monogamous crickets, sugar cane that had survived frost three times, ink, and the skin from a drum. Despite these expensive medical treatments, Lu Boyi died of an asthma attack in 1896.[5] He may have suffered from dropsy[3]

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.[5] 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.[6] 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),[5] 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.[6] He later wrote that he was dissatisfied with the quality of teaching at the academy.[7] 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.[6]

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 intensely. 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.[6]

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 sense of Han Chinese nationalism.[6] After graduating Lu Xun planned to become a Western doctor.[7]

In 1902 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 practice some 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 Verne's Journey to the Moon and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.[8]

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.[8] Lu later recalled his mentor respectfully and affectionately in an essay, "Mr Fujino", published in Dawn Blossoms Plucked at Dusk. 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.

While 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 problems instead:[7]

"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 spectacle."[8]

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.[8]

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.[9] The girl, Lu Xun, had little in common with Lu, was illiterate, and had bound feet.[10] Lu Xun married her, but they never had a romantic relationship. He never loved her, but took care of her material needs for the rest of his life.[8] Several days after the ceremony Lu sailed back to Japan with his younger brother, Zuoren, and left behind his new wife.[8]

After returning to Japan he took informal classes in literature and history, published several essays in student-run journals,[11] 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 read.[8]

Early career

1918 printed edition of A Madman's Diary, collection of the Beijing Lu Xun Museum.

Lu intended to study in Germany in 1909, but did not have sufficient funds, and was forced to return home. Between 1909-1911 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.[12]

Lu spent these years in traditional Chinese literary pursuits: collecting old books, researching pre-modern Chinese fiction, reconstructing ancient tombstone inscriptions,[13] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] 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 Popular Literature.

Together with Qian Daosun and Xu Shoushang he designed the Twelve Symbols national emblem in 1912.

Between 1912-1917 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.[12] He collected and self-published an authoritative book on the work of an ancient poet, Ji Kang, and wrote a Brief History of Chinese Fiction, a work which had little historical precedent in China.[14] 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 his diaries.[12]

In 1917 an old friend of Lu's, Qian Xuantong, invited Lu to write for a radical populist literary magazine that had recently been founded by Chen Duxiu, New Youth. 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.[15]

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 himself was recognized as one of the leading writers of the New Culture Movement.[16] Lu continued writing for the magazine, and produced his most famous stories for New Youth between 1917-1921. These stories were collected and re-published in Nahan ("Outcry") in 1923.[17]

In 1919 Lu moved his family from Shaoxing to a large compound in Beijing,[12] 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.[18] 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.[17]

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 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.[17]

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 Guanping.[19] 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.[17]

After arriving in Xiamen, later in 1926, Lu began a teaching position at 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 Morning Blossoms Plucked at Dusk. He also published a collection of prose poetry, Wild Grass.[17]

In January 1927 he and Xu moved to Guangzhou, where he was hired as the head of the Zhongshan University 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 China.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Late career

Lu Xun with Xu Guangping and their son, Haiying

In 1929 he visited his dying mother, and reported that she was pleased at the news of Guanping's pregnancy.[20] Xu Guangping gave birth to a son, Haiying, on September 27, 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 child.[23]

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 a 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.[20]

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 via this law. After the execution of the "24 Longhua Martyrs"[20] (in addition to other students, friends, and associates),[24] 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."[20]

Although he had renounced writing fiction years before, in 1934 he published his last collection of short stories, Old Tales Retold.[20] 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.[25]

Lu Xun, shortly before his death in 1936.
Lu Xun's casket.
Lu Xun's tomb, in Shanghai.

Lu sent a telegram congratulating the CCP on their completion of the [27]

At 3:30 am on the morning of October 18, 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 5:11 am the next morning, October 19.[26] Lu's remains were interred in a mausoleum within 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.


Bust of 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".[28]

Party leaders depicted him as "drawing the blueprint of the communist future" and 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,[29] 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."[30]

Lu completed volumes of translations, notably from Russian. He particularly admired 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."[31] 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 argued.

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.[32] Gloria Davies compares Lu Xun to Nietzsche, saying that both were "trapped in the construction of a modernity which is fundamentally problematic".[33] According to Leonardo Vittorio Arena, 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.[34]

  • 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.
  • The artist Shi Lu adopted the second half of his pen name due to his admiration for Lu Xun.[35]

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.[36] 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") very hard to convey through translation. In them, he frequently treads a fine line between criticizing the follies of his characters and sympathizing with those very follies. Lu Xun was a master of irony (as can been 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."

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.[37] 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, December 26, 1923. Ding Ling and Lu Hsun, The Power of Weakness. The Feminist Press (2007) 84-93.
  • 中國小說史 (Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilue; lectures given 1923-24) translated as A Brief History of Chinese Fiction Foreign languages Press, 1959). Translated by G. Yang and H.-y. Yang. various reprints.


  • (怀旧, "Return to the Past" was his first short story, it appeared in 1909.
  • from 《呐喊》 Call to Arms (1922)
  • from《彷徨》"Wandering"
    • 祝福 "New Year Sacrifice" (1924)
    • 在酒楼上 In the Drinking House (1924)
    • 幸福的家庭 A Happy Family (1924)
    • 肥皂 Soap (1924)
    • 长明灯 The Eternal Flame (1924)
    • 示众 Public Exhibition (1925)
    • 高老夫子 Old Mr. Gao (1925)
    • 孤独者 The Misanthrope (1925)
    • 伤逝 Sadness
    • 弟兄 Brothers
    • 离婚 Divorce (1925)
  • from《故事新编》 "Old Tales Retold" (1935)
    • 补天 Mending Heaven (1935)
    • 奔月 The Flight to the Moon (1926)
    • 理水 Curbing the Flood (1935)
    • 采薇 Gathering Vetch (1935)
    • 铸剑 Forging the Swords (1926)
    • 出关 Going out (1935) = Leaving the Pass
    • 非攻 Opposing Aggression (1934)
    • 起死 Resurrect the Dead (1935)


  • 我之节烈观 My Views on Chastity (1918)
  • 我们现在怎么做父亲 What is Required to be a Father Today (1919)
  • Knowledge is a Crime (1919)
  • 说胡须 My Moustache (1924)
  • 看镜有感 Thoughts Before the Mirror (1925)
  • 论“费厄泼赖”应该缓行 On Deferring Fair Play (1925)


  • 《呐喊》 Call to Arms (Na han) (1923)
  • 《彷徨》 Wandering (Pang huang) (1925)
  • 《中国小说史略》 Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilüe) (1925) a substantial study of pre-modern Chinese literature
  • 《故事新编》 Old Tales Retold (Gu shi xin bian) (1935)
  • 《野草》 Wild Grass (Ye cao) (1927)
  • 《朝花夕拾》 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 edited by 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.[38] 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 translated by 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[39] said "could be considered the most significant Penguin Classic ever published."[40]

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 vocabulary.[41]

See also


  • Arena, Leonardo Vittorio. Nietzsche in China in the XXth Century. 2012.
  • Davies, Goria. Lu Xun's Revolution: Writing in a Time of Violence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 2013. ISBN 9780674072640.
  • Denton, Kirk. Lu Xun Biography. MCLC Resource Center. 2002. Retrieved July 24, 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 Guanping. 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 July 23, 2014.


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Kowallis 10
  3. ^ a b c Denton "Early Life"
  4. ^ Kowallis 11-12
  5. ^ a b c d Lovell 2009 xv
  6. ^ a b c d e Denton "WESTERN EDUCATION: 1898-1902"
  7. ^ a b c Lovell 2009 xvi
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Denton "JAPAN: 1902-09"
  9. ^ Kowallis 22
  10. ^ Veg
  11. ^ Kowallis 20-23
  12. ^ a b c d e Denton "HOME AGAIN"
  13. ^ a b Lovell 2009 xviii
  14. ^ a b Kowallis 26
  15. ^ Lovell 2009 xx
  16. ^ Lovell 2009 xxi
  17. ^ a b c d e Denton "MAY FOURTH: 1917-26"
  18. ^ Lovell 2009 xxv
  19. ^ Lovell 2009 xxvi
  20. ^ a b c d e f g Denton "MOVE TO THE LEFT: 1927-1936"
  21. ^ Kowallis 3
  22. ^ Lovell 2006 84
  23. ^ Lu & Xu 64
  24. ^ Lovell 2009 xxviii
  25. ^ Lovell 2009 xxx
  26. ^ a b Jenner
  27. ^ Lovell xxxii
  28. ^ Lovell 2009 xxi-xxxiii
  29. ^ 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.  
  30. ^ Lovell, Julia (2010-06-12). "China's conscience". Guardian. 
  31. ^ Jon Kowallis ( 
  32. ^ Jameson, Fredric (Autumn 1986). "Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism". Social Text (Duke University Press) 15 (15): 65–88.  
  33. ^ 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.  
  34. ^ Arena, Leonardo Vittorio (2012). Nietzsche in China in the XXth Century. ebook. 
  35. ^ King, Richard (2010). Art in Turmoil: The Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. p. 62.  
  36. ^ Hesford, Walter (April 1992). "Overt Appropriation".  
  37. ^ 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.  ; 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).
  38. ^ (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1937. Reprinted: Westport, CT: Hyperion Press, 1973. ISBN 088355092X.
  39. ^ Jeffrey Wasserstrom, UC Irvine, Department of History
  40. ^ "China's Orwell", Jeffrey Wasserstrom, TIME, Dec. 07, 2009
  41. ^ Capturing Chinese: "Finally a Book to Help Students Read Original Chinese Literature", 15 October 2009.

External links

  • Lu Xun and other historical figures
  • Special Issue about Lu Xun (Japanese) at
  • Lu Xun bibliography at
  • Pioneer of Modern Chinese Literature at
  • Lu Xun webpage (Chinese)
  • Selected works by Lu Xun (Chinese (Taiwan))
  • A Brief Biography of Lu Xun with Many Pictures
  • Lu Xun and Japan
  • An Introduction to Lu Xun and his Stories
  • Kong Yi Ji, Lu Hsun translated by SparklingEgnlish
  • Reference Archive: Lu Xun (Lu Hsun) at
  • Selected Stories, Lu Hsun (1918-1926) at
  • An Outsider's Chats about Written Language, a long essay by Lu Xun on the difficulties of Chinese characters
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