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Lu Xun

Lu-Xun and his Impact on Chinese Literature


Almost every nation is proud of its culture and cultural heritage of the ancestors. Music, painting, architecture, literature, and poetry can be regarded as conductors between various periods of history. The artist, who shows in his works the reality of his time through the prism of his perception of the world and empathy, makes the importance of culture for future generations even more significant. In this case, culture constitutes not only the collection of historical facts or a simple description of what happened back but also a mirror of the soul of the time. Everything depends on whether a modern man can see the hidden meaning that the author of a particular creation wanted to put. It should be noted that because the Chinese culture is one of the most ancient ones in the world, it is particularly important not only for the Chinese people but also for the entire world. Nevertheless, not only China’s ancient periods deserve attention. Contemporary Chinese culture reflects a new period in the development of humanity. Therefore, it becomes clear that the modern Chinese literature deserves special attention of its representatives. One of the most significant figures in the modern Chinese literature was Lu Xun. It was a Chinese writer whose activities had a great impact on both China’s literature and its culture as a whole. Lu Xun is considered the founder of the modern Chinese literature, and therefore, the study of his life and career is important.

Life Events That Influenced the Formation of the Personality of Lu Xun

It would be logical to begin the acquaintance with the personality of Lu Xun by providing his real name – Zhou Shuren. He was born in the town Shaoxing, the Zhejiang Province in China on September 25, 1881, during the reign of the Qing Dynasty. His family belonged to the educated stratum of society. Lu Xun’s grandfather worked in the capital’s Academy and he occupied a rather high position (Pollard 124). However, the prosperity and well-being of the family had been shattered after the arrest of his grandfather for a corruption offense. The fact that the family’s financial condition had deteriorated significantly and practically led his family to poverty, significantly influenced the future of Lu Xun. In this regard, when he was a teenager, he and his mother left his hometown and moved to the village where his grandmother lived. Life in poverty among the oppressed villagers opened the boy’s eyes to the harsh world of a different China. At the age of 16, Lu Xun lost his father due to a serious illness, which also contributed to a complete family bankruptcy. Moreover, the fact that the doctors, who practiced a traditional approach has treated his father but they were unable to save him, made Lu Xun skeptic. This event caused Lu Xun’s to want to become a physician who would practice the Western medicine. However, despite his wish to go to the public service for the good of the Empire, for which getting paid education was required, the lack of funds pushed Lu Xun to go to a state-funded school. Therefore, Lu Xun began his journey to education at the Naval Academy, where he studied for free. Then, within the same academy, he went to school, where he studied the mining industry and railways. During this phase of life, he confronted with the teachings of the Western schools and began his involvement in the study of foreign languages and literature. This school used the techniques and curriculum of the West, which possibly could have affected the formation of his personality. Thus, the concepts of Western scholars, in particular, democracy and capitalism, firmly captivated his mind and prompted him to join an anti-feudal and anti-empire movement (“Lu Hsün”).

Foreign experience

An important stage in the life of Lu Xun was his move to Japan to start studying the medical science. In 1902, in Tokyo, he began to master the Japanese language. At the same time, he met the representatives of the Chinese revolutionary movement, and he joined their ranks. A year later, he began his work as a writer, creating articles for the magazines that Chinese students, the representatives of radical forces, published in Japan. Another remarkable event of his life abroad was his negotiated wedding in 1905. Even though it was against his will, yet it brought certain advantages for him such as financial support and the necessary and useful connections. Furthermore, in 1909, to inspire people to act and rouse them to the revolution, he and his brother translated the stories about the historical experience of European countries in the 19th century and published them. However, their idea was not successful, and Lu Xun was not able to reach the goal. Therefore, he decided to return to China and continue a path as an activist and writer in his homeland. It should be noted that his experience in Japan contributed to the formation of his civic views and honing of literature skills (Lyell 36).

Changing the Decision and Selection of a New Life Path

When one talks about the personality of Lu Xun, one should focus on the question of why he had decided to change his decision to become a doctor and follow a different path. While in Japan, he realized that the principal problem was not the traditional Chinese medicine that was inferior to the modern methods of the Western school of medicine in its efficiency. In his opinion, lack of medicines for the soul, which the Chinese people needed much more, brought more harm. The event that prompted him to make this decision was the execution of a military prisoner in front of the crowd of Chinese spectators. He saw how the people were indifferent and realized that the main disease in the country was the mentality of his nation. Therefore, he decided to quit studying Medicine and began to engage seriously in the literary activities as well as obtain teaching skills. He believed that with proper education and correct influence on the younger generation, China will be able to have a better future (Wang 179).

Literary Activity of Lu Xun and Its Impact

Literary activity of Lu Xun played an important role in China at that time. His works had the form of the short essays that narrated about the injustice and corruption that devoured Chinese society of that epoch. They were sharp but truthful at the same time as they were aimed at attracting more attention of the young people and not only. In his writings, he wanted to open people’s eyes to the truth of that life and prompt them to take the path of change through the revolution. Works such as “Kuang RenRi Ji (“A Madman’s Diary), A Q Zheng Zhuan (The True Story of Ah Q) are among his most famous ones. “A Madman’s Diary” (1918) is considered as one of the first influential works of Lu Xun, and it was a part of a new generation of the Chinese literature. The main idea of this work was to describe real events by a “crazy” man who could see the true happening more clearly and faithfully than other people could. The True Story of Ah Q was a novel that told about the life and adventures of a simple, uneducated villager by the name of Ah Q who had a highly spiritual nature. With the help of allegory and satire, the author had shown the weakness of the main character similar to the weaknesses that China had. Na Han (Call to Arms) (1922) was a collection of works, containing some of the most popular works, including “A Madman’s Diary” and The True Story of Ah Q. The works that were included in this collection were considered the best works of the author. In his works, Lu Xun showed Chinese society of that time as corrupt, devoid of morality and fortitude. He criticized the feudal system and Confucianism, using satire in his works. To help people understand that China as well as society needed rebirth, he tried to highlight those sins and problematic sides that existed then in the works. Through the heroes of his works, he tried to point people that society, in which they lived, was spiritually and mentally ill and it needed healing (Xiaoming).

Achievements and Innovation of the Writer

Speaking about Lu Xun’s achievements and contribution to the good of society, it is worth noting his considerable influence on the revolutionary “May 4 Movement” that took place in China. However, more attention should be given to his contribution to the development of the modern Chinese literature and his innovations. The style that Lu Xun used was a kind of the synthesis of the traditional Chinese and European formats that had been typical for period of the 19th century. Moreover, sometimes, he used these styles separately. His works combine compassion and empathy for the main characters and criticism of them: from the harsh and sharp – to light ironical ones. He was able to unite the Eastern and Western styles, thus creating a new one that was the beginning of the modern Chinese literature (Xiaoming).


Summing up, it should be noted that China’s literature, just like that of any other country, transformed and modified under the influence of the historical events and metamorphoses that concerned society and the country as a whole. Lu Xun was a man who could not remain indifferent towards the problem of the moral and spiritual state of the Chinese people. As a teacher, he devoted his work to the education of the new generation that could make China better, kinder, and more equitable. As a writer, he was able to use the gained knowledge, experience, and talent, and with their help, write the works that could not have left readers indifferent. In addition, the fact that he had used his personal (and new for China) approach to writing in his work, made him the father of the modern Chinese literature.

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