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Lu Xun Biography & Facts

Zhou Shuren (25 September 1881 – 19 October 1936), better known by his pen name Lu Xun (or Lu Hsun; Chinese: 鲁迅; pinyin: Lǔxùn; Wade–Giles: Lu Hsün, LOO-shoon), was a Chinese writer, literary critic, lecturer, and state servant. He was a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in vernacular Chinese and classical Chinese, he 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 in Shanghai during republican-era China (1912–1949). Lu Xun 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 examinations, but due to his family's relative poverty he was forced to attend government-funded schools teaching "foreign 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 because of 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 an office 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 Chinese literature and popular culture. Like many leaders of the May Fourth Movement, he was primarily a leftist. 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 life-long admirer of Lu Xun's writing. Though sympathetic to socialist ideals, Lu Xun never joined the Communist Party of China. Biography Early life Lu Xun was born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang. As was common in premodern China, Lu Xun had many names. His birth name was "Zhou Zhangshou" (Chinese: 周樟壽; pinyin: Zhōu Zhāngshòu). His courtesy name was "Yushan" (Chinese: 豫山; pinyin: Yùshān), but he later changed that to "Yucai" (Chinese: 豫才; pinyin: Yùcái). In 1898, before he went to the Jiangnan Naval Academy, he took the given name "Shuren" (Chinese: 樹人; pinyin: Shùrén)—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 story "Diary of a Madman" 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. 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; a part of Tongxiang City). Because formal education was not considered socially appropriate for girls, she had not received any education, but she still taught herself how to read and write. The surname "Lu (魯)" in Zhou Shuren's pen name, "Lu Xun", was the same as his mother's surname, "Lu".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").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 (the juren exam). 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 1901.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 treatments, Zhou Boyi died of an asthma attack at age 35 in 1896. He might have suffered from dropsy. Education 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 foreign 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 foreign 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 sense of Han Chinese nationalism. After graduating Lu Xun planned to b.... Discover the Lu Xun popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Lu Xun books.

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  • Lu Xun Park in Shanghai synopsis, comments

    Lu Xun Park in Shanghai


    Dear Traveler, Welcome to the WanderStories™ tour of the Lu Xun Park in Shanghai. We are now ready to take you on your personal tour of this world famous landmark. We, at WanderSto...

  • Ah Q Archaeology synopsis, comments

    Ah Q Archaeology

    Paul B. Foster

    Ah Q Archaeology concretely situates Lu Xun's critique of national character visavis metanarratives of nationalism and modernity through a close examination of his works in the...

  • Selected Essays of Master Lu Xun synopsis, comments

    Selected Essays of Master Lu Xun

    Lu Xun

    The Selected Essays of Master Lu Xun collects together his most influential and powerful essays and lectures. Critical of traditional Chinese culture, of the superstition and rigid...

  • The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China synopsis, comments

    The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China

    Lu Xun & Julia Lovell

    Lu Xun (Lu Hsun) is arguably the greatest writer of modern China, and is considered by many to be the founder of modern Chinese literature. Lu Xun's stories both indict outdated Ch...

  • Diario de un Loco synopsis, comments

    Diario de un Loco

    Lu Xun

    Diario de un loco ―primer relato breve de corte social de Lu Xun (también conocido como Lu Sin y Lu Hsun)― a pesar de su brevedad, está considerada como obra fundamental de la lite...

  • The Resurrected Skeleton synopsis, comments

    The Resurrected Skeleton

    Wilt Idema

    The early Chinese text Master Zhuang (Zhuangzi) is well known for its relativistic philosophy and colorful anecdotes. In the work, Zhuang Zhou ca. 300 B.C.E.) dreams that he is a b...

  • Luxun synopsis, comments


    Michelle Loi

    En créant Ah Q, héros à rebours, à la fois ridicule et pitoyable, Luxun entendait dénoncer le caractère chinois passé et présent et éclairer ses compatriotes sur les origines des d...

  • Beyond the Iron House synopsis, comments

    Beyond the Iron House

    Saiyin Sun

    Beyond the Iron House is a critical study of a crucial period of life and work of the modern Chinese writer Lu Xun. Through thorough research into historical materials and archives...

  • This Love Could Not be Delivered synopsis, comments

    This Love Could Not be Delivered

    Lu Min

    A love story set against the backdrop of the 1980s “Strike Hard” crackdown on youth crime, this heartbreaking novel shows how the pain of first love can last a lifetime.

  • Diary of a Madman and Other Stories synopsis, comments

    Diary of a Madman and Other Stories

    Lu Xun

    Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun. Lu Xun (1881–1936), a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in Vernacular Chinese as well as Classical Chinese, Lu Xun...