From Luzhen to Sendai: Locality and Metonym in Lu Xun’s Pseudonyms

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An outstanding scholar, writer, critic, artist, historian, and social commentator, Lu Xun (1881–1936) is also known for his numerous pseudonyms. However, the significance of these pseudonyms has remained relatively little studied. This paper attempts to examine how these pseudonyms extended their erstwhile political rationale. In so doing, we hope to shed some new light on the understanding of Lu Xun both as a writer and as a man. We argue that localities, allusions and symbolism featured in Lu Xun’s pseudonyms; these not only enrich the literary contexts of his writing, and increase the effectiveness of his discourse, but also contribute – albeit in a subtle way - to the ideological and emotional complexity, sophistication, and paradox of the author as the literary conscience of modern China. Through the fabric of Lu Xun’s pseudonyms, we see how traditional forces are still at play in his reception of Western discourse of modernity; how different places – Shaoxing, Tokyo, Sendai, Beijing, Shanghai, even Europe - are linked and different experiences interwoven to shape who Lu Xun was. Like his writing, Lu Xun’s pseudonyms may be seen as a vortex of modernity in which Chinese tradition, Western influence and historical contingency interact.

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Author Biography

Ping WANG, University of New South Wales

Dr. Ping WANG is a senior lecturer in the School of International Studies at the University of New South Wales. Her research covers a broad area of ancient Chinese philosophy, literature and aesthetics. Her most recent publication is a monograph (with Dr. I. Johnston) examining the commentaries on the Confucian classics Daxue and Zhongyong (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2012). She has also authored a number of refereed journal articles, including “A Solitary Boat in the Autumn Chill: Chinese Ci-poetry and Literati Painting” (2010), and “Lasting Sorrow: Chinese Literati ‘s Emotions on Their Journeys” (2012), both published in Literature & Aesthetics.