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Luxun 文学杂谈

Mysteries of Lu Xun
1. Background
Lun Xun, generally acknowledged as the greatest modern Chinese writer for
his socially incisive short stories and essays, was a native of Shaoxin in
Zejiang Province, famous for its rice wine and legal clerks (who prepare
documents and "do deals" for government officials). His family was formerly
prosperous, with a grandfather who was a retired court official, unfortunately
involved in an examination bribery scandal and under a suspended death sentence
that caused a severe depletion in the family fortune because of the need to
give regular bribes to "defer" actual execution until he eventually got a
pardon. When Lu Xun was still in his teens, his father died, still
in his thirties, after a prolonged illness (which appears from Lu Xun's
description to have started as stomach bleeding from a ruptured ulcer, but
eventually resulting in kidney failure from the herbal medicines he was made to
take, something that put Lu Xun off Chinese medicine for life). This further
improvished his family. The contrast between people's treatment of his family
before and after the misfortunes, developed in him a deep sense of cynicism,
besides exposing the dark side of traditional Chinese culture to a person
who would normally have enjoyed its benefits.
Despite the downfall, he was able to use family contacts to get admitted
to "western" schools in his region, and then to the medical faculty of Tohoku
University in Japan. However, he abandoned his studies after two years to
take lessons from the scholar-revolutionary Zhang Taiyan, whose speciality
was ancient text analysis and authentication, and who was then in exile in
Tokyo. He also attempted to publish a magazine of foreign short stories
translated into Chinese to promote literature education. Also during
this period, he entered into an arranged marriage, more to acquire a companion
for his mother than for himself, while his younger brother married a Japanese
wife whom he met after following Lu Xun to study in Tokyo.
Even though he never completed any formal degrees, his foreign exposure
qualified him to be a science teacher in a government modern school back
home, shortly before the fall of the Manchu Government and the establishment
of the warlord republic, which created increased needs to replace imperial
officials with western educated new persons. He was briefly Principal of his
school as well as a director of a local newspaper, but found his situation
precarious because of the chaotic condition of the new local government.
Before serious crisis developed, however, he was invited to join the education
ministry in the capital Nanjing, and then moved to Beijing with the central
government when it relocated.
Because of low pay and frequent budget problems, officials were permitted
to moonlight, and Lu Xun both taught in Beijing universities and wrote
articles for publications edited by literary friends. His mother moved to
Beijing with his official wife to live with him, as did his brothers and their
dependents, all in one house in the patriarchal tradition. But then developed
the mysterious family crisis which will be addressed shortly. Two other crises,
one involving a group of his young followers, and one at Xiamen University,
will also be discussed.
Many biographies of Lu Xun exist, but most of these come from people
with an agenda. First are the family members, who were anxious to keep all
skeletons in the closet and present Lu Xun as "good person". Second are the
literary followers, who were anxious to present themselves as "good students".
Third are the propagandists, who want to present Lu Xun as "one of us".
Innocently or deliberately, they either ignore the mysteries or present a
picture convenient for their particular purpose without bothering to look
further into the situation behind the picture.
Despite all this, for the disinterested and impartial truth finder, enough
information can be extracted from the various sources to provide a reasonably
complete picture of each crisis. In particular, Lu Xun's own writings provide
quite reliable information: though at times he deliberately feigns ignorance
or failure to understand (e.g., his saying "I did not look into Yu Si affairs
and did not know who was editing it", to avoid mentioning that, as he knew
all too well, the magazine was edited by his estranged brother, and his
"it is ridiculous that I in Xiamen was being asked to solve a problem that
occurred in Beijing by someone in Shanghai", to avoid admitting that he was
siding with one group of his followers against another group over the magazine
Mang Yuan), and there can also be genuine errors and misunderstandings,
he was always careful not to write provable falsehoods. A whole picture
would frequently emerge by piecing together various items from different
2. Brotherly rupture
The communal home co-habited by the extended family of Lu Xun was purchased
using their share of cash from the sale of the ancestral home in Shaoxing that
used to house an even bigger extended family, and domestic expenses were also
pooled. Being the largest earner, the childless Lu Xun was subsidizing the
life style of his less well off brothers; this is what a traditional patriarch
is supposed to do, and he did it with no apparent signs of resentment; he was
known to be caring towards his nephews.
To point out the significant context: in the traditional system, a child-
less man would normally adopt a brother's son (or some other near male next
generation relative) as heir, who (and whose parents) would enjoy his property,
in return for keeping alight his "incense and candle" - it is believed that
without a male heir to perform ritual ceremonies, a soul would not be able to
rest. The result is somewhat like the Salic system with properties descending
to heirs male. Thus, Lu Xun would in effect see his nephews as his own sons,
as he had chosen not to consumate his own official marriage.
He was therefore rudely shocked when a quarrel arose between himself and
his sister in law, cumulating in his receiving a note from his brother "I just
discovered what a fool I have been; our past is merely pitiable; there is no
need for recrimination; just never come into my wing of the house again."
It is clear from the note that he was accused of having designs on
his sister in law. In fact, in view of the bitter attitude of the brother,
it seems likely that he suspected more than just immoral designs, but that a
past liaison had existed.
Lu Xun's response was extremely feeble (in terms of actions - his feelings
were certainly much harder and painful); he started taking his meals in his
own room instead of joining the family table, and then moved out altogether.
The brothers came to public blows a year later when Lu Xun went back to
retrieve some of his books and material, probably because of the brother's
idea that Lu Xun was spreading rumours about the sister in law's spending
habits, and a nasty article on the various southern names for hooligans
appeared not long after, presumably as a way to let off steam. On his side,
Lu Xun complained in a book preface of being robbed of his material. He was
also seriously sick after the event, and recovered only after several months.
Significantly, his mother sided with him, as well as another brother (who was
however to have his own marital problems, and his wife happened to be sister
of his brother's wife, so that there may be other factors in his choice), in
effect expressing doubts about the accusations, though some contact was
maintained. A few years later Lu Xun moved to Xiamen, Canton and then Shanghai
where he settled till his death, and no sibling reconciliation took place.
Posterity has been harsh to the brother, who had the misfortune of being
roped in to help the Japanese administration after Beijing fell during the War
- he had a Japanese wife and was a Japanese speaker - and so was branded a
traitor; his wife was said to be spoilt and extravagant (which is confirmed by
the financial problems they would constantly have, all the way even into the
Communist era when he eked out a living as a translator) and her accusation is
assumed to be just vengeful spleen upon being reprimanded by Lu Xun over her
shortcomings, convincing only to her henpecked husband. Another suggested
motive was the wish to take over the whole house, though a purely financial
reason is hard to believe as she would lose the benefit of Lu Xun's subsidy.
It is however difficult to account for Lu Xun's mild actions in response
if the accusations had been entirely groundless. Even out of concern for
family peace and reputation, welfare of the nephews, etc., one would not want
to simply let a ranting, vengeful woman triumphantly riding roughshod over
everyone else, since that could hardly be for anyone's long term good.
Yet, it seems highly unlikely that there was a sexual relation, because,
unlike many other artists and writers, Lu Xun does not appear to have been
a highly sexual person. Stuck with a wife he did not choose, he avoided
consumating the marriage altogether; he did not purchase himself a maid/
concubine, something that would be normal for a government official from a
traditional grand family (even one with an active sexual relation with his
wife) especially as he was childless. Several times female admirers came
close to him, but his reponse to them had been always hesitating - a prospect
of marriage with the sister of his friend Xu Qinwen lapsed, maybe because
she and her family were reluctant to accept the status of a junior wife, but
there was no story of him pushing hard for it, and his relation with the
woman who eventually became his common law wife in Shanghai, Xu Guang Ping,
was drawn out and very much on/off.
Again it is useful to put things into the particular cultural context:
For many Chinese and Japanese men of letters, sex would be the vulgar and
low class ending to a romance, and Red Chamber represents the pinnacle of
this mental romance ideology: females are made of water and clean; men are
made of earth and stinky. The unattainable object of distant admiration is
far better than just having someone to sleep with. If we view the quarrel
in this light, then the behaviour of the various parties involved becomes
much easier to understand.
For the husband, the mere existence of a mental romance between his wife
and brother would be a bitter blow, because to a literary man, this is as
bad as, maybe even worse than, just sex. Further, he had been accustomed
to enjoying the elder brother's protection and financial support on the
assumption of sibling love; that the benefit came from other motives
would come as a shattering awakening. While the bitterness looks incompreh-
ensible from the outside, the people involved in it knew better, hence the
tolerance and forebearance shown by Lu Xun.
But is there any evidence of such a mental romance? Lu Xun was certainly
protective and indulgent towards his sister in law, who was given charge of
the household finances rather than his mother or official wife, and who made
frequent demands on him including help for her family in Japan. Is there
something more than mere patriarchal possessiveness towards the women of the
tribe, in particular the mother of his future heir? Two curious pieces of
literary evidence seem relevant here.
In 1924 Lu Xun wrote a comical poem about being disappointed in love, and
a minor literary storm arose: Sun Fu Yuan, then editor of the Beijing Morning
Press Literary Supplement, accepted it for publication, but was overruled by
the chief editor. Sun resigned over this, and started the Yu Si (Threads of
Speech) magazine which, supported by Lu Xun and other figures of the Beijing
literary circle, became something of a classic of modern Chinese publishing.
This was just a few months after he moved house, and it seems relevant to ask
if there was a connection. In a 1930 article about the history of Threads of
Speech, Lu Xun explained that he was making fun of then current romantic novels
but a careful reading of the poem gives one the feeling of good humoured
acceptance rather than hypobolic sarcasm, and the explanation does not quite
ring true.
Also in 1924, Lu Xun published a collection of articles Text from Ai Hall
Bricks under the pseudonym Yan-zhi-ao, a name also used by a fictional avenger
character in the story Forging the Swords of 1926, but nowhere else. Now Yan
means banquet, Ao is to roam, while Zhi is just a connector so Yan-zhi-ao means
Banquet Roamer, but the interesting thing about the Chinese character Yan
is that it contains the two characters Ri (sun, or the Ja/Ni of Japan/Nippon)
and Nu (female), under the partial character representing roof or home. In
other words, Yan-zhi-ao could also be read as "exile from the house of the
Japanese woman", an interpretation confirmed by his second wife Xu Guang Ping
(who may have deduced it herself, without or without hints from Lu Xun.)
Again, the indication is of humorous or at least resigned acceptance, this time
not of a broken heart, but a broken home.
So it seems that Lu Xun continued to show an indulgent attitude towards
his sister in law - women are made of water and are not to be held responsible
for their actions; but doesnt that take generosity too far, if she had been
such an ungrateful and nasty character making completely groundless accusations
against him? At the same time, it seems unlikely that they had an actual,
physical affair, since it would less likely end with such good humour. A
spiritual kind of romance would fit the bill much better.
Two authors have suggested something a step further: Su Xue Lin, a Taiwanese
authoress with deep hostility to Lu Xun as person, despite admiration for him
as writer, wrote in 1971 "Lu Xun's sister in law was his old paramore in Japan"
and Qian Jia Ju, writing in 1992 in Ming Bao Monthly, a Hong Kong magazine,
said that he heard a story, coming to him second or third hand but supposedly
originating from an old friend of Lu Xun, that "they lived together in Japan".
While these are unsubstantiated gossip - for about a year, she was a
maid in the lodging house he stayed in, so they were living "in the same house"
rather than "living together" - we must add it to the rush of Lu Xun's
family to get him married after hearing a rumour that he had taken a wife in
Lu Xun's own explanation, that one day he was helping a Japanese woman
to carry a baby, and ran into a friend just then, might describe an actual
event, though it is a bit curious that this occurred in spring 1906 when he
ought to be in Sendai rather than in Kanda, Tokyo where the event was set.
In any case, it is unlikely that this alone would have caused the friend to
report back to his home of him having a family - there must have been other
gossip on top of that to lead to such a drastic step. However, it is safer
to discount an affair, since Lu Xun's stay in Tokyo, between quitting medical
school in Sendai in order to return to Tokyo to engage in literary work, and
getting married back home, is rather short. As he returned to Japan with
his brother after his wedding in 1906 and they worked closely together during
the three years till the 1909 marriage, it is also very unlikely for an affair
to have occurred secretly between 1906 and 1909 when he returned to China.
On the other hand, it is entirely possible that Lu Xun was the one who
knew the girl first, as he tended to look after business matters on behalf
of brother and friends, and they took to each other, but their relation did not
develop beyond a spiritual one as he was already or soon would be married.
Instead he fostered a relation between her and his brother to "keep her in the
family", with disastrous consequences for the family. It is relevant to
mention that, despite his extensive biographical writing, the brother never
discussed the circumstances of meeting and marrying his bride, other than that
they met in April 1908, just over a year before their marriage, briefly in a
diary entry after her death on the same day of the year. He did write about
falling in love with another Japanese girl, the young sister of his landlord,
shortly after arriving in Tokyo. Disappointed there, he seemed to have fallen
for his bride on the rebound, and married quickly before his family had time
to object or do anything to prevent it. Did Lu Xun play a part in this quick
romance (which seemed to have lasted though)? Most likely we shall never
get to know the events in full.

3. Lu Xun's young followers
As a well known author successfully exposing the dark side of the old social
system and courageously introducing new, western ideas, Lu Xun attracted many
young followers, including his common law wife Xu Guang Ping who pursued him
with letters after taking lessons from him at Beijing Women's Normal College.
The student disturbances at that College, partly caused by the political and
diplomatic situation at the time, eventually resulting in violent suppression
and bloodshed, have been much reported on and, though not uncontroversial,
contain no mysteries for exploring. Here I will discuss the events related
to Wei Min (Unnamed, or more accurately, Not Yet Named) Society in Beijing
in the late 20s, and a quarrel with the left wing propaganda leaders in
Shanghai in the 30s shortly before his death.
Lu Xun often disclaimed any desire to lead movements, on the ground that
he lacked the cool ruthlessness needed to send followers into deadly struggles.
That may be so, and the bloody events he witnessed in Beijing and Canton
certainly shook him up. But he had no hesitation in engaging in literary
controversies and keeping arguments up both in duration and intensity, and his
high status as a socially relevant writer put him naturally at the head of
literary groups. What he disclaimed was the leadership of mass movements,
including even movements to push for particular mass literary trends.
His relationship with young followers may be described as mutually
beneficial or mutually exploitive, depending on one's level of cynicism.
While still contributing to Threads of Speech, then edited by his estranged
brother, he started another magazine Overgown Prairie (Mang Yuan) and a book
series under Wei Min Society, with the young members contributing material
and much of the editorial effort, mostly unpaid as the publications, like most
similar ventures, were hardly profitable businesses.
It is necessary to place this in the context of the traditional apprentice
system: a master craftsman or businessman, rather like a feudal lord accepting
homage, would "adopt" an apprendice in an official ceremony, with one side
swearing obedience and the other side offering protection and future prospects.
The apprentice lives in the master's house, initially not much more than an
indentured servant, but receiving training in the craft or trade, so that
with abilities and dedication, he could rise to be an important helper, ending
perhaps running part of the business or even as heir to the master if there
are no sons to take over. It was also not unusual for the master to set up
the apprentice in his own business with financial and other assistance in
competition to the master.
Hence, the young members of Wei Min Society would see themselves as
unofficial apprentices of Lu Xun in the craft of writing and publishing,
who could provide them with guidance as well as publishing contacts, and
saw the efforts they volunteered as part of the deal, even though there might
be complaints on either side on unmet expectations. A typical case of complaint
from Lu Xun's side: he was shown a set of short stories by Xu Qinwen, and
selected the better ones as suitable to publish; when the book turned out to
be very successful, the publisher encouraged Xu to produce another one, and
he responded by publishing the stories rejected by Lu Xun as inferior. This
upset Lu Xun as mercenary and he was less willing to spend time on Xu's
manuscripts subsequently.
Nevertheless, Wei Min Society ticked along from early 1925 to late 1926
peacefully enough, until Lu Xun left for Xiamen University and placed the
editorial control in the hands of one young member Wei Su Yuan, who proceeded
to reject (or to sit on) some manuscripts from members of a subgroup who were
then starting a separate venture Kuang Biao (Whirlwind). Their friend
Gao Chang Hong, who was editor of Kuang Biao, then made some ill tempered
complaints to Lu Xun, who did not respond, after which a series of articles
hostile to him appeared in Kuang Biao, basically saying that he had been
corrupted by his literary authority and influence, was intolerant of different
opinions, and obstructed new ideas.
The generally accepted story was that Gao was in love with Xu Guang Ping
and his hostility arose from disappointment and jealousy. The main evidence
was a poem published in Kuang Biao about Sun complaining that Night took away
Moon, and his frequent visits to Lu Xun's home during the period when Xu also
visited frequently. Both are inconclusive, since the former could mean many
things, and the latter was when he was actively helping with Wei Min Society
work. Xu herself had no idea of any romantic interest from Gao, who claimed
to have never conversed with her and seen her only once, though they had some
literary correspondence (exchanging nearly 10 letters over 2-3 months, which
Gao stopped after seeing Xu in Lu Xun's home and noticing her closeness to
Lu.) The first time Lu Xun discussed the idea was in a
letter to Xu "I heard from some people that Gao's attack on me was because
of a girl", going on to mention the poem and the many visits, and it appears
that the possibility had not occurred to either of them until then.
But even assuming that Gao was a disappointed secret admirer, there must
have been other, more work-related complaints since a whole group of the young
followers broke away from Lu Xun and showed varying levels of hostility that
lingered for some years. It seems the main cause of grievance was Lu Xun
selecting Wei Su Yuan as his "heir", rather than some other "apprentice" who
was more talented and who had made more contributions to Mang Yuan productions.
Wei's main literary work had been a translation of Gogol's short novel "The
Jacket", and being consumptive, was unable to take a high level of sustained
effort; the main reason he took control of the editorial work of Wei Min
Society was that his health prevented him from attending college like others,
and he was in effect the only full time worker. The analogy is perhaps the
faceless bureaucrat infuriating better qualified professionals by telling
them what to do.
A number of incidents indicate that Lu Xun tended to be hypersensitive to
implications of criticism from younger people. After the initial success of
Threads of Speech, Sun Fu Yuan made a somewhat insensitive remark about the
editorial managers of Beijing Morning Press "they didnt know they were stepping
on dynamite", and Lu Xun later wrote "I thought 'dynamite' referred to me, and
the remark bothered me for several days, but it did not stop me from continuing
to help...". He publicly lost his temper at Lin Yu Tang (see next section) at
a dinner when Lin made some careless remarks about Lu Xun's publisher giving
authors very late royalty payments - the man had earlier that day just paid
Lu Xun some money he owed, but blamed a rival publisher for stirring up trouble
between him and Lu Xun, and Lin was insensitive enough to talk about that guy,
giving the impression that this was being snidely referred to.
It would seem to be a quite tricky task for inexperienced young people
to offer different opinions to Lu Xun, and talking behind his back or talking
ambiguously with him would probably only make things worse by its appearance
of insincerity. While Lu Xun could openly and amicably disagree with his
own peers whose sincerity was not in doubt, he reacted sharply to any kind
of sneaky behaviour and snobbish attitudes, but unfortunately, keen but anxious
young people are all too likely to be just that way.
Several of his Wei Min followers mentioned that, after Xu Guang Ping started
visiting him regularly, some domestic rearrangement caused him to change from
meeting them in his private room/study to the outside living room, and they
jumped to the conclusion that she was staying there. While polygamy was common
among the older generations, it was seen as a feudal practice unacceptable to
the new generation. There could also have been some resentment that Lu Xun was
devoting too much energy to the causes Xu was associated with. A great deal of
gossip must have arisen, much to Lu Xun's annoyance. Hence, there were several
causes of friction on both sides, made worse by the sexual angle mixing in.
Whatever lessons Lu Xun learned from the Wei Min experience, 10 years later
another quarrel arose between his nonimal followers in Shanghai, this time
with politics playing a part. The city centre of Shanghai consisted of two
concession areas ceded to Britain and France, and was under international
rule. It provided a refuge for all kinds of people running away from the
government of China, and was a base for the Communist Party's united front
There was a Left Wing Writers' Union of which Lu Xun was a member. One day
he was warned by Zhou Yang, the Party propaganda chief, that a couple of
young journalist-authors associated with him, Hu Feng and Huang Yuan, were
government spies. When he ignored this, a follower of his who was a Party
member wrote him a letter which warned (though in very deferential terms)
him of coming under the sway of flatterers and conmen, which he proceeded
to publish with an angry reply rejecting slanders of his friends and judgement.
Before the quarrel blew up to anything big or long term, however, Lu Xun died.
Given the Communist Party's policy of united front and the Party being
anxious to claim him as "one of us", the incident was publicly forgotten, but
nearly twenty years later, when Shanghai was under Communist Party rule like
the rest of China, the "Hu Feng Faction" was given a public and sustained
purge from the literary circles, though this was soon forgotten too because a
much larger purge occurred shortly after with the Hundred Flowers movement.
Communists like to quote Sinclair "All writing is propaganda". Perhaps they
take it too literally; in so far as every writer's philosophy of life comes
through, all writing, including the most nihilist, has an ideological base, but
it does not follow "all writers are propagandists" who can be given marching
orders as part of a movement. While leaders of Left Wing Writers' Union were
sensible enough to defer to Lu Xun's statue, they could not quite accept
members who hid in his shadow and claimed to be doing things "his way" instead
of "our way".
Neither Hu Feng nor Huang Yuan amounted to a great deal creatively or
organizationally, but the mere fact that they were working with Lu Xun gave
them a weight that was greater than the sum of its parts. To be able to
to call oneself the heir of Lu Xun is a big deal, and perhaps he had not
been quite as vigilent to what his followers were thinking of in their minds.
4. Xiamen University
In 1921 a new university was started on the island of Xiamen off the coast
of Fujian with financial backing from overseas Chinese businessmen, mainly
based in Singapore. Because it offered generous salaries for prominent men
of letters in Beijing, just at the time when warlord oppression of dissidents
was increasing (Lu Xun was dismissed from his education ministry post following
student disturbances in 1925, and was nearly arrested in 1926. Later the
Beijing office of his book publisher and Wei Min Society were both forced to
close.) In 1926, it recruited a number of stars from Beijing to its Humanities
Faculty including Lin Yu Tang as Dean of Arts and Secretary General of Chinese
Literature Research Institute, Shen Jian Shi as Head of the Institute, Sun Fu
Yuan (the founder of Threads of Words, as Chief Editor) in addition to Lu Xun
(who had no administrative responsibilities).
Whereas most of China was then under warlord control, Fujian was an out of
way, not particularly wealthy province, not so interesting to fight over, and
the location of Xiamen detered any warlords from wanting to put their armies
there, since they could not easily retreat elsewhere. It was therefore left
to more or less to run itself. With many families having relatives in South
East Asia through past migration, Xiamen enjoyed particular commercial and
communication advantages. Things would seem to be promising, but they did not
turn out to be. Within half a year or so, all the literary stars were to
leave Xiamen, triggering off severe student disturbances that went on for
Lu Xun left a number of descriptions of events at Xiamen in various writings
which however do not support the generally believed story of "reactionary
administration oppressing new ideas", though eventually the trouble did become
one of student-administration confrontation of young versus old. The actual
causes of the unhappiness of the Chinese writers, and Lu Xun's in particular,
were more complex and various. A simple counting of his literary output would
show that his few months in Xiamen were a highly productive period, and it was
certainly invalid to argue that he felt unable to do work because of adverse
conditions. Similarly, the view that the Xiamen University management wanted
Confucian studies rather than modern literature is hard to sustain, since
people like Lu Xun, Lin Yu Tang and Sun Fu Yuan were well known to be modern
writers. Why hire them at high salaries if one was looking for Confucian
scholars? Of course, how much discerning appreciation the management had for
modern literature is a separate question.
First Lu Xun made the complaint that the administration, dominated by the
Science Faculty, was interfering in and obstructing the affairs of the Arts
Faculty. This seems to be more of a locals versus outsider quarrel: most of
the Chinese Literature faculty were mandarin speakers (though Lin Yu Tang was
a Fujian native) who did not know the local dialect, and administation was
logically in the hands of locals who could communicate with the non-academic
staff and outside community. With its high salaried stars, the Chinese
Institute would be an expensive unit to run, and there was some anxiety
on the part of the administrators to ensure value for money. There need to
be nothing more sinister than that. While human envy and territorial ambition
must play a part, this would be no surprise to an experienced person like
Lu Xun and not unduly upsetting.
Second, he made the complaint "the university hires professors at
high salary, but expects us to show results single handed", citing as example
an exhibition where he had to put up his own old stone-tablet text-rubbings
for show. Now that is a common phenomenon at new universities, which do not
understand that the output of staff at established universities is highly
dependent on the infrastructure, not just facilities and bodies of staff,
but modes of operations, ways of thinking, skills and trusting contact that can
only come after years of practice. While this is irritating, and probably can
be damaging to the careers of less established professors, it was actually a
minor problem for Lu Xun, who could ignore expectations to put on good shows,
while his own work depended more on his existing publishing contacts elsewhere.
Third, he complained that he was treated as a celebrity, and people kept
wasting his time. That too was a real problem, but again a small one that
could be solved easily if he did not have to keep up appearance. There are
ways to keep people and social functions at arms length.
Fourth, and rather more serious, was his complaint that too many staff
of the wrong kind were being brought in from Beijing. To explain this, it is
necessary to remember the division in the Beijing literary community between
those who emphasized creativity and social relevance, and those who emphasized
scholarly research. The former often had no university degrees, and very few
had been overseas. They cared little about modern research methodology.
The latter group, typified and led by Columbia educated manuscript researcher
Hu Shi, were not only more "respectable" academically, they also tended
to have more official university positions, and better contact with government
officials and business leaders. In short, they tended to be "pro establishmet"
rather than "pro mass" figures. During student disturbances the two camps
were liable to be on opposing sides and Lu Xun had carried on long literary
feuds with some members of the other group. (Lu Xun's estranged brother shared
features with both sides and tended to be caught in between.)
Fifth, Lu Xun mentioned the incident of the chairs: he was given an
apartment to live in, supposedly the best furnished on the campus, but one
day an attendant came to remove his chairs, because the son of some VIP
was coming to visit and needed more furniture in his apartment. This trivial
incident upset Lu Xun very much because it reinforced his perception of the
power reality: for all the fuss made of him and the deferrence shown, he was
only a hired servant, whose priviliges, like the chairs, could be taken away
as quickly as they were given at the whim of some person or event.
What made things worse was the combination of the last two factors: When
his colleagues heard about the event, they were mocking rather than supportive
"here he goes again playing the prima donna"; and worse: his relation with Xu
Guang Ping was brought up in the gossip - "he is bad tempered because he misses
his girlfriend". Xu had left Beijing with him, but went to her hometown Canton
instead, because they agreed to have a period of separation to assess their
future relation, presumably to think over the question of whether both parties
were comfortable with what amounts to bigamy. With Lu Xun's already touchy
nature, the delicate situation about Xu, and the not so ideal work situation,
the malicious gossip (which presumably also dragged in his already married
status and the sister in law troubles) by colleagues he considered too inferior
to be there at all, would have really stung. He must have recalled the Chinese
proverb "The tiger that comes down to the plain gets bullied by dogs." In fact,
some subsequent articles he wrote about Gu Jie Gang, one of these colleagues
with whom he previously quarrelled in Beijing, led to threats of lawsuit; part
of the bad feeling arose from Lu Xun's impression that Gu was in league with
what he saw as the anti Lu Xun, reactionary faction, which turned out to be
incorrect because Gu himself left Xiamen not long after Lu Xun, and was making
complaints about the administration similar to Lu Xun's in letters to Beijing.
On top of the already precarious situation, the worsening financial postion
of the Singapore backers and the need to reduce subsidy to Xiamen gave added
stress. Given good will, such stringency can be survived and could even bring
people together, but in this case, rapport between administration and the
faculty, and between the arts and sciences sides, was lacking. Though the
initial move to reduce funding of the Chinese Insititute was reversed by the
president upon protest by Lu Xun, he saw the position as hopeless and left
for Canton in January 1927. Soon after, Lin Yu Tang and several others of the
Beijing staff followed suit because the student troubles that broke out with
Lu Xun's departure made peaceful work almost impossible. In Lin's particular
case, he was invited to join the new Nationalist Government established in
Wu Han after the successful Northern March against warlords, and saw the
prospect there to be more promising than trouble ridden Xiamen.
Instead of a simple "new versus old" struggle, it is better to see the
failure of Xiamen to maintain their impressive recruitment success as a case of
biting off more than could be chewed. Xiamen was (still is) an out of way city
isolated from the most exciting social and artistic developments of China,
and its catching so many stars of Beijing was an accident of history. It did
not have the knowledge and logistics to figure out what to do with them to
keep them happy and productive. More subtle minded and well informed management
might have succeeded; given what it had, failure would have been difficult to





研究红楼梦可说是大中华(因为台湾香港外国都有,包括西方学者 - 张爱玲也参加过)的一个文化工业,规模非常庞大,不过简直是越研究越乱;这倒是是有点象英国侦探小说柯南道一边做医生一边写福尔摩丝故事引起的结果:一个个短篇随手写来,很多福氏和他朋友华生的生平细节都配不起来,所以后来的福迷们研究时,发现华生一会儿娶老婆一会儿老婆死了搬回去贝客街住发生了三四次。。。
Mysteries of the Red Chamber
Much controversy has surrounded the origins of the Qing Dynasty novel Dreams of the Red Chamber. While it is generally agreed that the novel was closely linked with the family history of Chao Xueqin, a poverty striken poet-painter descended from several generations of well connected royal household officials of the Manchu emperors, much obscurity exists regarding his biographical details and his authorship. Arguments have been advanced about exactly where the author (or authors) fit in the Chao family tree, whether Chao Xueqin wrote the whole novel, part of it, was merely the editor of someone else's work or unrelated to it altogether, whether the last 40 chapters were forged by someone else or the genuine continuation of the first 80, and by whom if forged, and whether the novel deserves its high literary reputation. Theories about it being politically motivated or a fictionalization of palace intrigues have also been advanced.
The ideas I discuss here are not my own. Rather, they are a composition of several theories which strike me as being the least far fetched and able to explain more of the evidence, in particular the inconsistencies between the first, middle and last parts of the novel. Red Chamber starts off as some kind of moralistic tale, with much description of a dissolute lifestyle containing both illicit heterosexual relations and homosexuality, and hints that these will subsequently lead to serious retributions. It soon went into a more genteel and romantic vein, with poor handling of human relationship and family finance due to vanity becoming the main vices. The final part tries to wrap everything up as best it could, but not always successfully.
A number of inconsistencies in part 1 have been pointed out: in some sections, Jia Baoyu is clearly still in his early teens (throwing tantrums before grandma; being petted by his mother; being asked about his age by Prince North and given a souvenir; going into the bedroom of female cousins while they are still sleeping); in other parts (drinking and composing bedchamber poems; making friends with actors) he is clearly older; the mixed use of northern and southern dialects, and details of cooking, plants and weather which mix up northern and southern situations. These only make sense if we accept the theory that the part is the edited version of an earlier manuscript that is more like Plum in Golden Vase, a well known pornographic novel, written by someone whose main experience was in southern China, but edited by another person based in northern China, who then continued to write the rest of part 1 of the novel.
This fits in with recorded Chao family history: the family was running a silk weaving and other luxury goods supply operation for the palace in the south, then returned north after getting into trouble over poor financial management and quality control, as well as peripheral involvement in an imperial succession dispute. Several edited manuscripts exist showing that besides the main author/editor, most probably Chao Xueqin, and the earlier author, most probably an older relative, there is another, senior figure who was reading the novel as it was being written and ordering changes. A major deletion relates to Qin Keqin, the beautiful and mysterious daughter-in-law of the Eastern Mansion who died early. There were various indications in the storyline and the annotations that the novel originally depicted her as a highly immoral character who seduced Jia Baoyu and carried on an affair with her father in law, and her death was by suicide. Further, a plausible theory was advanced about her origin: the storyline says she was adopted from an orphanage by the poor but genteel Qin family; how was it possible for her to marry into the high class Jia family and be allowed to carry on with such abandon? It was suggested that she was originally a high born person whose family lost out in a palace power struggle and was exterminated, with the young children sent to orphanages, from which she was rescued by sympathizers. Certainly if the original novel contained such episodes, then it becomes easier to understand why enough details have been left behind for political messages to be read into the novel.
A well known story says that Chao Xueqin spent years editing his novel, with 120 chapters, but his landlady burnt the final 40 as ghost money after his death, though certain fragments were rescued by a family friend who read the novel earlier and remembered parts of it. His adopted son Gao E then made a reconstruction from what information was available and got a friend to publish the whole work. He or his publisher friend also tried to "tidy up" the earlier chapters. This story is in itself unlikely, since there ought to be multiple draft manuscripts in existence as shown by the various gener- ations of annotations that survived. However, the story indicates that there were various people with knowledge of the manuscript so that sooner or later, someone would attempt a reconstruction, the reasonable way to explain why, on the one hand, the last 40 chapters are generally of a poorer literary quality and fail to wrap up all the loose ends, with many clear hints of the earlier parts leading nowhere, but on the other hand, the last part does seem to continue the spirit of the novel rather well. While doubts remain about how good the raw material used by the reconstructors were and how great was their knowledge of the original ideas, the novel as a whole has stood the test of time.
With the complex history and numerous printed editions from several annotated manuscripts, one can find evidence from the book to support almost any theory one cares to advance. The theory outlined here is however simple and general enough to accommodate numerous enhancements and insertions of detail. It need not stop anyone from further research and argumentation.




1。 张悦然有什么好?
"张悦然出生于八十年代,现在还在念大学,但她已在小说创作的探索中走得比较远了。她的小说不以故事取胜,但凭靠对外在世界和个人心灵的敏锐体察和聪颖感悟,细细密密地串起了一串串梦想的文字珠链,便营造出了一个个五光十色、美轮美奂的奇景。强烈的梦幻色彩使她的小说显得超凡拔俗而又高贵华丽。她的小说,读起来既冷嗖嗖又暖烘烘,既 朦胧又明澈,既真切又虚幻。。。。"
张悦然作品的销路比不上韩寒和郭敬明,但这两位一个已经放弃写作专职赛车,一个一再被发现作品有抄袭的内容,说他们年纪轻轻,已是江郎才尽,并不过分,而张悦然显出更高更长远的发展潜力,因为她的作品里可以看到极好的文学本质功力:优美的词藻显示她运用文字的能力,奥妙的情节显示她的丰富想象力。 如果她在长大的过程中得到更深厚的人生经历和有程度的思想,同她的文学能力结合起来,肯定能创造出比现在价值高出很多的作品。
另一点令我对她特别看好的是,由她以前同记者一些谈话看来,这个小女孩对现代文学的认识极有深度,包括外国的文学。 (举例请看我翻译成英语的几篇她的随笔
原文在 ) 而且读读她谈论文坛的一些事件讲话的口吻,可以在这小女孩身上看到一种出人意料的世故和成熟,比如最近白烨批评韩寒的事情:
文 /记者 陈潇俊  
说到底,“韩白之争”的一方不应该是韩寒,而是白烨文章中的“ 80后”作家群体。韩寒开骂后,“ 80后”的态度如何?
  张悦然 评论只能凭良心
2 我怎样认识张悦然










她出去了; 不知道有没有听到那句话; 不过算了,自身难保..










"你不用去找工作吗? 还要写书,有那么多时间?"




也是看到了她以后,对今天的女孩太快成长为女人有所感触而写的,后来还几次用不同方法说“太早懂事的孩子更需要得到保护,因为他们不知道自己脆弱的地方” - 到现在我还不肯定这些想法是否一种误判。)
3。80后 - 失落的一代
张悦然1982年出生,那时文革已经是历史,六四事件的时候刚进小学,开始成熟的时候已到了开放,拼经济,去政治化的时代。 旧的传统道德观念早给文革打破了,马列主义毛泽东思想也快是穷途末路。所以80后一代是没有现成信仰的;他们的精神支柱是什么?除了钱,他们的人生目标在哪里?这一点莫言在谈张悦然的时候也有提到:
我已经说过前辈们对张悦然的印象是比较好的,网上骂她的话反而是年轻人的多。而第一多是骂她长得难看。其实她长得相当不错 (虽然网上的照片有好有坏,尤其是上电视的摄影常不准确)而且一个作家漂不漂亮跟作品好坏本来是无关的,不过用脸,甚至更多身体的部分,做推销书的宣传工具,也是开放后中国的潮流之一,加上出版商记者把她冠上了“玉女作家”的美称,不免引起观众问问是否“货真价实”。





通常女主角是个聪明美丽,努力奋斗的女孩,是作者对自己的理想。男人要就是个开始老的中年人,要就是个娘娘腔的男孩。她对中老年男人,有英雄崇拜(水仙,五月)又有鄙视(小染,夜房间,红鞋)很矛盾,这在葵花中已经很明显,凡谷既是天才又是疯子,他虽然是葵花和女巫两人爱的对象,但同两人都无沟通,反而女巫同葵花有沟通;在张悦然的随笔里,有沟通的是女孩,如小舞(即同学-同房-封面设计者颜禾),nude 女诗人一电脑系同学,bosnia即上海作家周嘉宁,男孩同她只有朦朦胧胧,若有若无的“爱”,而且男孩常是同性恋者;十爱里对爱的印像,包括言情类的五月,基本上是坏的。好几个故事讲性觉醒(如小染在路上遇到男孩,桃花中果果偷了小染男友),但后果通常不好。
鞋子把脚磨破了。很沮丧。回去换了小舞的鞋子再下来继续跳。忽然想到了什么,再上楼,把小舞枕头下面的卡片拿出来,添了一句话。 我说:小舞,你什么都好,我爱你的穿过梦透出来的微笑,乱蓬蓬的红色头发,还有还有你这38号的脚丫。
Translation of Zhang Yueran's 张悦然 Peachblossom Salvation 桃花救赎
Translation of Zhang Yueran's 张悦然 Sunflower 葵花
Translation of Zhang Yueran's 张悦然 Story Xiaoran 小染
Translation of short story by Zhang Yueran (张悦然)
#2005 1月底到2月中她在各地为水仙签售,地震是3月28日,4月8日她回国领奖,中间还要上课,所以能用来做义工的时间很短