"China is a weak country. Therefore, the Chinese were stupid"
Luhsun is one of the greatest writers in China, and many people have read his literature
around the world. Works by Luhsun, who had brought about a revolution in Chinese
literature, are very sad. All of his novels encompass sorrow and pain as one of their
major themes. Every work has sorrow at the bottom of it. His life was a struggle for his
people. It was also a struggle for himself because he was one of the people. He chose
literature as means to emulate his struggle. He once said, "Talking about things helps
one's genius to be clarified, and I specifically had literature in my mind in those
days." He continued to express his spirit throughout his literature, not giving up
the attempt that reformed the genius of the Chinese.
He was born into a well-to-do family at Zejiang province on April 3, 1881. He was brought
up as a son of a good family, he began attending school at the age of six, where he
studied with a teacher until the age of twelve. He also learned social and cultural values
from his family. He had a tailored education, his family expecting him to be a government
official. So he was grew up under different circumstance from the other boys. But when he
was thirteen years old, misfortune occurred inside his family. First, his
great-grandmother died, and his grand father was imprisoned because he had an affair. From
that moment on, his family was brought to ruin. This experience gave little Luhsun a
strong sense of ignominy, and deeply influenced his life.
In 1898, he entered a public school at Nanjing, where he first had a taste of Western
science. There he experienced the superiority of Eestern science, and his hatred grew for
Chinese medicine, that had confused the life of his father and led his family to hardship.
In 1902, when he was twenty-one years old, he was sent to Japan as an overseas student of
government expenditure. After he had lived in Tokyo for a while, he entered a medical
polytechnic in Sendai, in northern Japan. He felt a clear discrimination against the
Chinese people in Japan. For the first time, he was awakened to literature as a means to
reform thought among the people. When he was twenty-six years old he came back to China;
he married according to the wishes of his family. He later returned to Japan and planned
to publish a literary review, only to fail. In 1905, the Tokyo-based Alliance Society was
established by Sun Yatsen, but he didn't take part in any direct political activity.
Because he was the eldest son, he had responsibilities for the household economy.
Therefore he returned to China at the age of twenty-eight years old and became a teacher
at a local college in Zhenjiang province. The following year, he turned to his job as a
teacher in a local middle school.
In 1911, the Republican movement began, and in 1912 the Republic of China was established
with Sun Yatsen as its president. Luhsun expected the new government to reform the wisdom
and understanding of the people. But conditions in China had not changed, it was like
anarchy overwhelmed by a warlord.
Luhsun was disappointed by such disparity in his country. And in those days, the building
of national and social literature were exhorted by Hu Shih and Chen Tuhsiu, which had a
deep impact on his work in those days. He began to create novels and literary reviews,
announcing works such as "Diary of a madman"(?) and "The True Story of A
Q". He began lecturing at schools in Beijing. But demonstrating students, who were
angry against the battles between the warlords, caused the authorities to intervene. The government
suppressed the students with force and forty-seven students, including a student of
Luhsun's, were killed. Oppression expanded to the field of education, and Luhsun felt in
danger himself, which he avoided by changing his house several times. Besides, Luhsun
tried to release students who had been arrested while Chiang was staging a coup d'etat
against the Communists. Taking shelter in several place including Uchiyama Bookstore, he
lost his health, and he died on Oct 10, 1936.
He portayed the suffering of a people
through his literature. He knew clearly what it was to be a Chinese while he was studying
in Japan. He felt the contradiction, sorrows, arrogance of a people in his inner mind.
Bringing that to light equalled hurting his own inner mind. What made him persist in
literature even when hurting himself? No one can explain it clearly. Surely his childhood
experience partly explains it. But above all, the oppressed figure of China might have
been pressing on him. "China is a weak country. Therefore, the Chinese were
stupid". Saying this, he took himself as the object of criticism. Therefore he must
awaken to his role as reformer of the genius of the Chinese, and persisted in that. The literature
of Luhsun has been read all over the world.
Luhsun is said to have favored the moon and children because they often appeared in his
works. He gazed at the future of a people in the clear moonlight and the light of sadness.
And he was saved by writing an innocent boy in that. He persisted in criticising his
people, not changing until he died. But he was not just an obstinate critic, he had
genuinely been observing China . He said, "What I hate the most is lies and murkiness
and what I like the most is honesty and moonlit nights.". He expected honesty to
children and wished for the advance of China. It was his sincere wish.