Lu Xun (Lu Hsun) (1881-1936) is the great writer of modern China.
Although he did not live to see the final liberation of China and her emergence as a modern state, all his writing was directed towards those aims.
In 1918, when he published his first story, ’A Madman’s Diary’, attacking the man-eating old culture, and his essay ’My Views on Chastity’, a plea for the emancipation of women, China was still deeply divided, a bowl of loose sand’.
A revolution in language was necessary, as well as political and social reforms, for the classical Chinese written by scholars could not be understood by the common people; Lu Xun’s brilliant writing in the vernacular—including the polemical article ’Silent China’ from which this book takes its title—helped bring this revolution about.
Equally, though he never joined the Communist Party, Lu Xun’s championing of revolutionary political causes helped prepare the way for the changes that have now remade China.
Gladys Yang’s excellent translations of Lu Xun’s writings in various forms — stories, reminiscences, poems, essays—convey the flavour of the man : his versatility, his candour and rueful wit, above all his courage; they also provide valuable background on that earlier China of which, and for which, Lu Xun wrote.
A list of Chinese sources for the selections is provided, as well as a note on pronunciation.