Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lu Hsun's Na Han

" A Call To Arms"...or to "Cry Out--either intent served the master (Father) of modern Chinese literature quite well. Why you ask? Well because he moved away from the Classical style of the Confucian scholars and began to write in the same manner you would hear on the streets. Quite a change for someone who while an employee of the Ministry of Education made his life translating classical works Some of his pet projects were the translation of Chi Kang 3d c. patriot who defied Confucian traditions coming down on the side of everyday people with his poetry and Buddhist classics of that same period. He was moving away from his Confucian background exploring new ground. If one would take the time to read of that time frame would find that a pivotal time on the Silk Road and a transitional time for Governance.
So what formed this person? What events moved him in a direction that would enable him to become a literary figure? Life was never easy wrought with frustrations for Lu Hsun (real name Zhou Shuren). He had lost his father to a long illness that impoverished the family...found enough funds to buy a ticket to take the entrance exam for the Naval Academy . The following year he transferred to a school in Nanking finishing there earned him a full ride scholarship to the Medical College in Sendai Japan. A news-reel of the Russo-Japaneses war showing the poverty of spirit in the Chinese on the street completely derailed him and he found himself looking at modern medicine as something that at that time would only serve to further embarrass his beloved but backward country. He found his first love as the best approach...literature after all he was a writer so he came to be "a" literary movement. His goal became to use his writing ability to change the spirit of his people. April 1918 using his literary name he published a short story titled A Madman's Diary followed in 1923 with Na Han. People in Lu Hsun's time are somewhere between submission and revolt. His story of Ah Q is his vehicle for getting this across to his readers. One has to liberate himself from his fetters quit accepting less than what is deserved...stop the corrupt who hold control with an iron fist. There is such rich hope in the future in Lu Hsun's writing that I can't help but believe this hope is still alive in today's China as people try to produce for the world with little or no relevancy. China a country who's inventions were ahead of the West but saw no need only amusement in mechanical objects now tries to understand what it is we in the West want. Surely the West doesn't want too much change or the economic advantage disappears and a cheap market is lost. Lu Hsun is still relevant today...the youngsters who defied authority at Tiananmen and their comrades who were studying abroad at the time were moved much as Lu Hsun had been that day he saw his country on a world stage. I recall speaking with students concerned that their country regain in prominence in the world after all they were from Zhongguo the middle kingdom.

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