Profile of Lu Xun

Lu Xun (1881-1936) is one of China’s most celebrated essayist and short-story writers. His writing “was peerless–at once sardonic and sentimental, burning with the idealism of youth in one passage, then cold, bleak and despairing in the next.” (Wealth and Power, page 152).

Lu also spent time in Japan, originally to attend medical school. Propaganda of Japanese atrocities in China convinced him to leave his chosen profession and focus instead on curing China’s spiritual ills through writing. Lu was initially reluctant to contribute to New Youth, but eventually was persuaded to submit the story “Diary of a Madman,” Kuangren riji (狂人日记), to the magazine. The story was a sensation, capturing through the metaphor of cannibalism China’s struggle to escape the stifling grip of Confucian tradition.

Lu Xun