Unformatted text preview: Page iii Diary of a Madman and Other Stories
Translated by William A. Lyell Page iv 1990 University of Hawaii Press All Rights Reserved Printed in the United States of America
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Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data Lu, Hsün, 1881–1936. [Selections. English. 1990] Diary of a madman and other stories / Lu Xun ; translated by William A. Lyell. p. cm. ISBN 0824812786 (alk. paper). — ISBN 0824813170 (pbk.)
1. Lu, Hsün, 1881–1936—Translations, English. I. Lyell, William A. II. Title. PL2754.S5A25 1990 895.1'351.—dc20 9036785 CIP
University of Hawaii Press books are printed on acidfree paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Council on Library Resources.
The illustrations for "Ah Q—The Real Story" were done by the modern Chinese artist Cheng Shihfa and published in 1962 in Ah Q—The Real Story, One Hundred and Eight Illustrations, Shanghai: People's Art Press. Page v CONTENTS
Preface vii Introduction ix A Biographical Sketch ix The Stories xxxi The Translations xxxviii
xliii A Note on Pronunciation 3 Remembrances of the Past (1911)
Cheering from the Sidelines (1918–1922)
Preface 21 Diary of a Madman 29 Kong Yiji 42 Medicine 49 Tomorrow 59 An Unimportant Affair 67 The Story of Hair 70 A Passing Storm 77 Hometown 89 Ah Q—The Real Story 101 Dragonboat Festival 173 The White Light 184 Some Rabbits and a Cat 191 A Comedy of Ducks 197 Village Opera 202 Page vi Wondering Where to Turn (1924–1925)
New Year's Sacrifice 219 Upstairs in a Wineshop 242 A Happy Family 255 Soap 264 The Eternal Lamp 279 A Warning to the People 291 The Venerable Schoolmaster Gao 297 The Loner 311 Mourning the Dead 338 Brothers 363 Divorce 377 Page vii PREFACE
Picturesque farmhouses with whitewashed walls; rivers and canals crisscrossing a lush green countryside; long narrow boats with telescoping bamboo roofs that can be closed against the rain; mistshrouded mountains off on the horizon; wellfed and friendly peasants everywhere—such is the impression that Shaoxing, in Zhejiang Province, makes upon the visitor today. When, in 1881, Lu Xun was born there to a gentry family in decline, the mountains and rivers of Shaoxing must have had exactly the same beauty they have today. But the social system was archaic, riddled with cruelty and injustice, and hopelessly corrupt at a time when China needed to be strong to avoid being devoured by imperialist nations of both the West and the East. Lu Xun devoted most of his life to dealing with those problems.
He belonged to that inbetween generation of intellectuals who had one foot mired in tradition while they tried to step forward into the modern world with the other. Very few of them would take that step as surely and unequivocally as Lu Xun. Theirs was a unique experience, at once painful and exciting. They lived on the edge of history in an environment that will never be seen again, an environment that produced many great men and women, and Lu Xun a giant among them. He was blessed with a quick, probing, and powerful mind, large enough to accommodate prodigious amounts of the old learning and the new. In another more stable age, centuries earlier, Lu Xun might have become a great Confucian philosopher, interpreting the classics in a way every bit as fresh as Zhu Xi (1130–1200) or Wang Yangming (1472–1528). But he was born in an age that fated him to destroy what those men had built so that he might find a better way for human beings to behave—a way for them to treat each other with honesty, compassion, integrity, and love.
The present translation is based on the stories as found in The Complete Works of Lu Xun (Lu Xun quanji) published by the Peo Page viii pie's Literature Press of Beijing in 1981. I am very grateful for the copious and helpful notes provided in this excellent edition. I thank my students, colleagues, friends, and family for helping me to understand and to love these stories; Stuart Kiang of the University of Hawaii Press for his encouragement and for his faith in my translations; and Grace Wiersma for her careful and creative copyediting.
WILLIAM A. LYELL Page ix INTRODUCTION A Biographical Sketch
The year was 1905. At a medical school in Japan a twentyfouryearold Chinese student stalked angrily out of a lecture hall and decided to abandon his medical training then and there in order to devote himself entirely to literature. That student was Lu Xun (1881–1936), who was to become one of the modern world's greatest writers.1
During the midnineteenth century Western traders and missionaries had flocked to China and Japan in search of easy profits and heathen souls. As the century drew to a close, China remained helpless before this alien tide while Japan, long since gripped by the urgent need to modernize, had begun to turn it back. So successful was China's eastern neighbor in this regard that in 1894, apparently emulating the rapacious greed of the Western powers, she declared war on China. In the treaty that ended the fighting one year later, Japan won control of Taiwan and the Pescadores, and also the right to open trade in seven Chinese ports.
Suddenly it was clear that, like it or not, China would have to modernize in order to survive. Once the need for modernization had been recognized, the next logical step was to send large numbers of students to study in Japan; closer by far than either Europe or America, Japan also relied on a language that was easier for most Chinese to acquire and use than any Western tongue. Of still greater significance, however, was the fact that Japan, an Asian nation, had been demonstrably successful in penetrating the secrets of Western wealth and power.
Lu Xun was one of those students dispatched to Japan in the wake of Japanese victory. Graduating from the governmentsponsored School of Mines and Railroads in Nanjing during the winter of 1901, he arrived in Tokyo the following spring and was for the next two years a student at the Kobun * Academy. This school had been established by the Japanese government especially to teach overseas Chinese students the Japanese language skills they would need to enter institutions of higher learning in Japan.
1.Lu Xun is the pen name of Zhou Shuren. Page x While in Tokyo Lu Xun wrote articles and published them in overseas Chinese student journals, introducing various fields of modern science to his compatriots and simultaneously exhorting them to patriotism. He also found time to translate two Jules Verne novels into Chinese: From the Earth to the Moon and Voyage to the Center of the Earth. Making full use of the Japanese translations, Lu Xun brought these works of science fiction over into Chinese in order, as he grandly announced in the preface to one of them, "to sweep away inherited superstitions, improve thought, and aid the cause of civilization." As a young member of the upandcoming intellectual elite, he was confident that he knew not only what ailed China (the backward, superstitious thinking of her people) but also what was wanted in the way of a cure (popularization of scientific thought). Within the next few years, however, he would come to reject this judgment.
Upon graduation in 1904, young Lu Xun left Tokyo for Sendai to attend medical school. He could well have picked a school closer to hand, in Tokyo proper perhaps, or across the bay at Chiba. Intense dissatisfaction with the majority of his fellow Chinese students, however, made him decide to get as far away from them as possible. In Lu Xun's eyes these students were at once frivolous, mindlessly adopting the outer trappings of Western civilization (mainly social customs such as ballroom dancing), and cynically practical, pretending to pursue their studies in order to "save China" while their actual motives were to earn high salaries in prestigious positions after graduation. Lu Xun would have none of this. Instead he went to Sendai, where he would be the only Chinese student.
Located in Miyagi prefecture about two hundred miles north of Tokyo, Sendai was something of a military town as well as a university one. The Second Division of the Japanese army reserves was stationed there. When Japan took up arms against Russia in 1904, the Second was immediately called up and dispatched to Manchuria. Hundreds of Russian prisoners were taken in Manchuria and sent back to Sendai, where their captured army capes came to be much prized among the local citizenry, who were imbued with a heady blend of patriotic jingoism and hometown pride.
These were not the best of times to be the only Chinese student in the town of Sendai. Though the SinoJapanese War was now a Page xi full decade behind, an atmosphere of arrogance still lingered here: Chinese were often contemptuously referred to as chanchan bozu (roughly equivalent to "Chinks" in English).
Lu Xun's instructor in microbiology used a slide projector to introduce the various microbes to his students. If the lesson finished early, he would use the remaining time to show slides of natural scenery—or scenes of the war. On one such occasion, as his fellow students shouted one wallshaking Banzai! after another, Lu Xun looked at a slide showing a Chinese on the verge of decapitation at the hands of Japanese military men in Manchuria. According to the caption, this man had been caught spying for the Russians. Lu Xun was not so much interested in the condemned "spy" as he was in the Chinese bystanders, shown gathered round to watch the execution. Though they appeared physically sound and in no need of medical care, he inferred from their facial expressions that, psychologically, they too were close to death. Suddenly realizing that China needed someone to doctor its people's spirits more than someone to look after their physical health, he strode out of the lecture hall that day and decided to devote himself to the creation of a literature that would minister to the ailing Chinese psyche.
Lu Xun returned to Tokyo in the spring, determined to spark a spiritual revolution through the written word. Although to outsiders such a melodramatic step may appear quixotic, one should remember that Confucian ideology, a tradition in which Lu Xun had himself been schooled, was preeminently an affair of books, of canonical texts endlessly memorized and commented upon in order to assure the moral authority and intellectual orthodoxy of the scholarofficials who ruled the land. Moreover, these officials ruled primarily through the power of the written word, whose magical force was assumed by those whose lives it regulated. Against this background, Lu Xun's melodramatic decision takes on a more practical meaning.
But in the summer of 1906 something happened that remains difficult to explain even today, something that has so puzzled Lu Xun's biographers as to tempt them to ignore or even suppress it. At his mother's behest and showing uncharacteristic passivity, Lu Xun returned to Shaoxing and submitted to a parentally arranged marriage with a certain Zhu An, a marriage that is said to have never been consummated. In effect, Zhu An spent the rest of her Page xii life living in the Zhou household as a ''grass widow'' whose main function was to wait upon her motherinlaw.
In the fall of 1906, not long after his marriage, Lu Xun returned to Tokyo with his younger brother, Zhou Zuoren (1885–1968).2 Zuoren had won a government scholarship and was to remain in Japan until 1911. While there he would fall utterly under the spell of Japanese culture and would choose a Japanese woman, Habuto Nobuko, as his wife. Perhaps Zuoren enjoyed more freedom in his choice of a mate than did his elder brother, for in traditional China responsibility weighed most heavily on the shoulders of the eldest male. This background may be particularly salient in the case of Lu Xun's family, since his father, a man stalled in midcareer by alcohol and opium, had died in 1896 of a protracted illness that Chinese doctors had proved helpless to treat. Indeed, the circumstances surrounding his father's death had been one of the factors leading Lu Xun to study Western medicine in the first place.
During 1907, amid a flurry of other activities, the two brothers joined with another young man from their native Zhejiang Province, Qian Xuantong (1887–1939),3 and a few others to organize a Society for the Promotion of National Learning. They invited the renowned scholar and highly respected antiManchu revolutionary Zhang Taiyan (1868–1936) to serve as director of their group and to lecture them on Chinese literature and philology. A political activist, Zhang had earlier broken with the constitutional monarchists4 and had turned to openly advocating revolution. The Manchu government had jailed him in Shanghai between 1903 and 1906 for activities that were deemed "seditious." Arriving in Japan after his release, Zhang was a readymade hero among the Chinese student population of Tokyo. This patriotic and highly individualistic scholar exercised considerable influence on Lu Xun.
In keeping with his resolve to use literature to minister to the ailing Chinese psyche, Lu Xun now banded together with a number of his likeminded countrymen in an attempt to launch a new literary movement. Their first visible step was to organize publication of a magazine entitled New Life. As the proposed date of their
2. Lu Xun, it will be remembered, was the pen name of Zhou Shuren.
3. His son Qian Sanqiang (b. 1913), a nuclear physicist, was instrumental in the development of China's atomic bomb.
4. This was the group that had advocated modernizing China while retaining the imperial system of government, a program that echoed the Japanese model. Page xiii inaugural issue approached, however, manuscripts and funds that had been promised in support of the new venture failed to materialize and the enterprise was abandoned.
Lu Xun later brought out a number of the articles he had prepared for the stillborn New Life in the magazine Henan, published in Japan by the association of overseas Chinese students from that province. One essay, entitled "On Breaking Through the Voices of Evil," revealed how drastically his thinking had changed since the time of his earlier stay in Tokyo. Far from blaming China's backwardness on the "inherited superstitions" of the common people, he now appeared to turn against members of his own class, asserting that the accusation of superstition was only a convenient slogan of hypocritical gentry scholars who hoped to absolve themselves of responsibility for the current national crisis by laying the blame for China's unfortunate plight at the doorstep of the common people.
In another essay, "The Power of Mara Poetry,"5 Lu Xun called upon his fellow countrymen to become "warriors of the spirit," writers who would give voice to the sufferings of China's silent masses and articulate their hopes and fears, writers who would, at the same time, exhort the whole Chinese people to reform their society and stir them to resist oppression. Of the many foreign writers whom Lu Xun identified as warriors of the spirit (his term for all such writers was ''Mara Poets"), he singled out Nikolai Gogol (1809–1852) for special praise: "His was a voice," Lu Xun remarks, "that broke a Russian silence of centuries, making the world aware of the hitherto invisible traces of tears on the tragic faces of a suffering people.'' We might observe in this light that Lu Xun's first colloquial short story, "Diary of a Madman," was inspired by Gogol's story of the same name; and when Lu Xun died in 1936, he was still at work on the second volume of his translation of Gogol's novel Dead Souls.
As he had done in earlier days there, Lu Xun continued to translate in Tokyo, pursuing what was to be his lifelong passion. But now, rather than the science fiction of Jules Verne, he worked on the stories of Leonid Andreyev (1871–1919) and Vsevolod Garshin (1855–1888). He combed the world literature that was available to
5. Lu Xun glossed the name Mara as meaning "devil," claiming that this epithet was first applied as such to the English romantic poet Byron. Page xiv him in Japanese and German—the only two languages, other than Chinese, he knew well enough to read easily—for stories created by authors from weak and oppressed nations that shared, he felt, the fate of his own homeland. For Lu Xun, the function of the translator was not less important than that of the creative writer.6
In an essay entitled "The Erratic Development of Culture," young Lu Xun argued that China's weaknesses and strengths all proceeded from the same cause—isolation. Because of her distance from the other centers of world culture, China had seldom been the target of cultural stimulation from abroad and the result, Lu Xun felt, had been gradual atrophy. Just as the creative writer could break through internal barriers of silence and give voice to the sufferings of common people, so might the translator break through external barriers of language and culture separating one nation from another.
Lu Xun's first efforts totear down the cultural walls that cut China off from the world at large resulted in a twovolume collection of short stories, Tales from Abroad, consisting of works translated by himself and his brother and published jointly under this title in 1909. The production cost was defrayed by a Chinese banker who had traveled to Tokyo for an ear operation. His contribution paid for printing one thousand copies of volume one and five hundred of volume two, which were marketed in both Tokyo and Shanghai. We have no record of the Shanghai sales, but in Tokyo only twentyone copies of the first volume and twenty of the second were ever bought. Lu Xun and his brother were plainly ahead of their time. The political revolution that would destroy the Manchu dynasty was only two years away, but the literary revolution, for which the two brothers were so well prepared, was to be a decade in the making, and the evidence of its beginning was still invisible to them.
Lu Xun might have stayed longer in Tokyo this time, despite the failure of Tales from Abroad, but in the end it was lack of money that drove him home. Not only did the family back in Shaoxing need his financial support, but Zuoren's family in Tokyo needed it too. On the surface, it almost appears that Lu Xun sacrificed his own interests to those of his younger brother, much as he had done a few years earlier for the sake of his mother when he mar
6. Lu Xun's collected translations run to ten volumes. Page xv
7 ried Zhu An. In any case, he now returned to China in 1909 to assume a teaching position at the Zhejiang Bilevel Normal School in Hangzhou. This job had been arranged for him by his fellow townsman and lifelong friend Xu Shoushang (1882–1948), who had just returned from Japan the previous year and was now dean of studies at the school.8
Upon landing in Shanghai and before proceeding to his teaching post in Hangzhou, the twentyeightyearold Lu Xun bought an artificial queue from a store that specialized in their sale to Chinese students returning from abroad.9 To all but the most discerning eye, these fake queues were indistinguishable from the real thing. Nonetheless, Lu Xun gave up wearing his after only a month, because it occurred to him that to have the thing fall off unexpectedly or—worse yet—to have someone pull it off would be far more embarrassing than to appear without it.
Situated in the provincial capital of Lu Xun's native Zhejiang, the Zhejiang Bilevel Normal School had originally been an examination hall. When the Confucian civil service examinations were abolished in 1905, it had been rebuilt as a normal school patterned after a similar inst...
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