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



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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