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Chinese Literature: Diary of Madman by Lu Xun and Spring Silkworms by Mao Tun Essay


Diary of Madman by Lu Xun

“The moon is bright tonight. I had not seen it for thirty years; the sight of it today was extraordinarily refreshing. Tonight, I realized I had spent the past thirty years or more in a state of a dream; but I must still be careful. Why did the Zhaos’ dog look twice at me? I have reasons to be afraid(Xun 22).

This passage is taken from the short story written by Lu Xun. It should be noted that an unnamed narrator is a person who once suffered from paranoia. This person attempts to adjust himself to life in the village; nevertheless, he gradually becomes overwhelmed by fear and suspicions.

He believes that other residents of the village are cannibals. He begins to suspect even his brother and thinks that other people continuously watch him. The passage that has been taken for the analysis eloquently illustrates Lu Xun’s approach to writing.

First of all, this author wants the readers to experience the feeling of suspense and anxiety. This is one of the reasons why he prefers first-person narration. One should note that Lu Xun was partly inspired by the novella written by Nicolai Gogol (Goldman 96). Similarly, Lu Xun also attempts to depict the society from the perspective of an insane person.

One of the main peculiarities of Lu Xun’s writing is that he chooses to give tiny details that can enable the readers to understand the mental decline of the narrator.

This passage that has been chosen illustrates his approach. The first sentences of this passage can be uttered by every person who walks at night and takes a glance at the Moon. Nevertheless, the later phases of the narrator indicate that his inner world is driven by paranoia, especially when he begins to speak about the dog that allegedly spies on him.

Apart from that, Lu Xun uses various linguistic means to portray the personality of his characters. In this case, close attention should be paid to the sentence structure. The narrator’s utterances consist of very short clauses or sentences, and the transition between these clauses is almost absent.

This lack of coherence is typical of people who have mental problems. This is one of the details that attract the attention of the readers. It confirms them in their belief that this story-teller can have some paranoid delusions.

On the whole, Lu Xun’s short story is a good example of writing in which linguistic and factual details gradually enable the reader to understand the inner world of the protagonist. This is one of the aspects that make this literary work very engaging. The passage that has been examined shows how Lu Xun tried to portray the life of an individual who is gripped by anxiety and suspicion. This is the main argument that can be made.

Spring Silkworms by Mao Tun

“None of these women or children looked healthy. Since the coming of spring, they had been eating only half their fill; their clothes were old and torn. They weren’t much better off than beggars. All were in quite good spirits, sustained by enormous patience and grand illusions. Burdened though they were by daily mounting debts, they had only one thought in their heads — If we get a good crop of silkworms, everything will be all right!” (Tun 147).

In this novella, Mao Tun describes the efforts of Chinese peasants who are engaged in sericulture or silk farming. The action takes place after the Taiping Revolution that was largely caused by the oppressed farmers who had practically no bargaining power, especially in comparison with the feudal lords (Han, 67).

This is the main historic event that should be taken into account by the readers of this short story. The selected passage is supposed to describe the experience of people who have to face numerous hardships, but they are still able to cherish hope. This is one of the main ideas that the writer wants to express. These issues should be examined in greater detail.

It is possible to say that Mao Tun is a representative of literary realism, and he wishes to portray the life of his characters in a very meticulous manner. This is why he focuses on the clothes of the peasants and their health.

However, the most important issue is that he describes the feelings and aspirations of these people whose only desire is to raise the crop of silk. In particular, the readers can see that the peasants can hardly make both ends meet, but they are still convinced that they will be able to sustain themselves for a short while. This is the most important issues that Mao Tun emphasizes in his work.

Furthermore, the passage contains a reference to the economic position of these peasants and their debts. The key paradox is that despite the continuous efforts of these people, their debts only increase. However, there are two motives that drive their behavior; in particular, one can speak about their “enormous patience and grand illusions” (Tun, 147).

This is the main detail that should be taken into consideration. The main achievement of Mao Tun is that he can recreate the social life of silk croppers in China in a literary form. This short passage enables the reader to gain a better idea about the experiences of these people.

Overall, it is difficult to say that Mao Tun relies on any particular literary tradition, but the influence of realism is certainly noticeable in his work. His short story Spring Silkworms meticulously depicts the experiences of people who have to fight against insuperable odds.

Nevertheless, they are still able to retain their sense of dignity. The passage which has been discussed in this paper exemplifies the influence of realistic tradition on Mao Tun’s writing. Moreover, this passage is interesting because it helps the author to portray the feeling of these peasants.

Works Cited

Goldman, Merle. Modern Chinese Literature in the May Fourth Era, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977. Print.

Han, Xiaorong. Chinese Discourses on the Peasant, 1900-1949, New York: SUNY Press, 2005. Print.

Tun, Mao. “Spring Silkworms.” The Columbia anthology of modern Chinese literature. Ed. Joseph Lau and Howard Goldblatt. New York, Columbia University Press, 1995. 144-156. Print.

Xun, Lu. The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun, London: Penguin Classics, 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. "Chinese Literature: Diary of Madman by Lu Xun and Spring Silkworms by Mao Tun." March 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/chinese-literature-diary-of-madman-by-lu-xun-and-spring-silkworms-by-mao-tun/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Chinese Literature: Diary of Madman by Lu Xun and Spring Silkworms by Mao Tun." March 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/chinese-literature-diary-of-madman-by-lu-xun-and-spring-silkworms-by-mao-tun/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Chinese Literature: Diary of Madman by Lu Xun and Spring Silkworms by Mao Tun'. 12 March.

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