I. Basic Problems
In his long review of by book1 Jaroslav Průšek has in effect outlined a program for the “scientific” study of modern Chinese literature; he has defined the historical character and function of that literature and recommended objective methods for its analysis and evaluation. Since, in his view, my book had practically ignored all the premises and methods that should have guided an objective historian of modern Chinese literature, I appear to him the prime example of a subjective critic, and a subjective critic with ill-founded political prejudices at that. I am naturally disappointed that a distinguished sinologist should have found my work so unacceptable, though I am quite unconvinced that, however inadequate as a literary historian, I could have so fatally misconceived my task. Indeed I remain completely skeptical whether, beyond the recording of simple incontrovertible facts, the study of literature could assume the rigor and precision of “science” and whether, in the study of any literary period, an inflexible methodology could be formulated once for all. In this rejoinder, therefore, I am principally moved to protest the advisability of a rigid and indeed dogmatic scientific approach to literary problems: Průšek may have erred in judging my book with the utmost severity precisely because he has been misled by his untested major assumptions about the modern period in China and its literature.
Let me say first of all that there are certain tasks properly belonging to the literary historian which I could have undertaken were I not mainly concerned with what seems to me the basic task—a critical examination of the major and the representative writers of the period along with a succinct survey of that period designed to make their achievement and failure historically comprehensible. Thus I have not systematically studied the relations between modern experiments in fiction and the native literary tradition. Thus, though I have ventured many remarks concerning the impact of Western literature upon modern Chinese fietion, I have made no systematic study of that impact. I have indeed cited many Western works in a comparative fashion, but primarily as an aid to define more precisely a work under examination and not as an attempt to establish lineage and influence. Since, as Průšek admits, even “professional sinologists” are largely ignorant of modern Chinese literature and since my book is also designed for readers “who know little about modern China but are curious about its literature” (p. vii), such comparisons, however arbitrary, serve a legitimate function in my study. I also have not attempted a broad comparative study of the narrative techniques employed by Chinese writers of fiction, though such studies, as proven by Průšek’s review article and his other recent papers, can be of definite value in assisting the task of evaluation.
To ascertain influence and indebtedness, to compare the techniques of authors in a neutral and objective fashion—these are surely important tasks, as Průšek rightly believes. But for a pioneer survey of modern Chinese fiction, the primary task is, I repeat, discrimination and evaluation: until we have elicited some order and pattern from the immense body of work available for examination, until we have distinguished the possibly great from the good writers, and the good from the poor, we cannot begin the study of influence and technique, however temptingly scientific the latter kinds of study may be. In dealing with earlier periods, a literary historian may assume the key importance of certain writers, writers whose greatness has been attested to by generations of readers. But even the verdict of the ages may not be always infallible so that no literary historian or critic should slavishly rely upon the work of his predecessors. In dealing with the modern period in China, because so many of the native critics, aside from the question of their dubious training in their craft, were too much involved in the making of this modern literature to be unpartisan, the need to start from scratch appeared especially imperative. Yet Průšek berates me precisely for my “intrepidity” in having dared to make a new beginning, to exercise my independent judgment in apparent disregard of the authoritative critics of mainland China, and of a few European sinologists who have largely echoed these authorities.
As an instructive example of objectivity, Průšek recommends Dr. Huang Sung-k’ang’s Lu Hsün and the New Culture Movement of Modern China (Amsterdam, 1957). Although Průšek has earlier criticized the book for its ineptitude as literary criticism,2 yet in comparison with mine, Huang’s book is “altogether objective,” presumably because the author has shown no independent judgment, has not deviated to any appreciable extent from the Chinese sources she has consulted, both in regard to her estimate of Lu Hsün as a writer and thinker and to her interpretation of the new culture movement. “Objectivity,” therefore, appears to mean uncritical compliance with the reigning opinion; to depart from it is to incur the risk of “subjectivity.” Not only that, it is to betray one’s sheer arrogance and “dogmatic intolerance.” But I am afraid it is Průšek himself who may be guilty of “dogmatic intolerance” insofar as he appears incapable of even theoretically entertaining any other view of modern Chinese literature than the official Communist one.
In Section I of his review, Průšek drops many hints as to the kinds of ulterior motives that may have led me to uphold a position of “dogmatic intolerance.” In one place, he thinks I must be the kind of liberal Chinese intellectual loyal to the memory of Нu Shih and to Lin Yutang. But he immediately concedes that I am critical of Нu Shih for “his narrow view of literature as an instrument of social criticism” (p. 9). But Lin Yutang he insists on regarding as a “favorite author” of mine and cites as evidence my description of his wartime role in America as “a best-selling author purveying the charms of old China and reporting on the heroism of the new” (p. 314). If Průšek has retained my earlier criticism of Lin Yutang’s cult of “personalism, which eschews high seriousness” (p. 133), and other related faults, he could not have missed my ironic phrasing of his new role: certainly, the expressions “bestselling author” and “purveying the charms” are not meant to be complimentary. Then Průšek starts off on another track and aligns me with the traitors and collaborators under the Japanese occupation. Have I not warmly endorsed the early intellectual phase of Chou Tso-jen, who later became a collaborator, and have I not written appreciatively and at great length on the works of Eileen Chang and Ch’ien Chung-shu, who were living in occupied Shanghai during the greater part of the war period? Moreover, my summary dismissal of the bulk of wartime literature produced in the Nationalist interior and the Communist areas “points to an individual lack of those feelings and sentiments which seem natural in the citizen of any country.” Průšek’s own enthusiasm for China’s heroic resistance against Japan and her subsequent “liberation” by the Communists, on the other hand, has led him to make the following assertion: “The transformation which took place in all the domains of life in the Liberated Areas is perhaps the most glorious page in the whole history of the Chinese people.” I wonder how many sinologists of Průšek’s eminence and objectivity would endorse this judgment.
Průšek simply cannot believe my statement, “In my survey of modern Chinese fiction, I have been principally guided by considerations of literary significance” (p. 498). So he quotes a sentence immediately following to prove that I subordinate literary considerations to political: “The writers toward whom I have shown critical approval or enthusiasm share by and large the same set of techniques, attitudes, and fantasies with the other writers of their period, but by virtue of their talent and integrity, they have resisted and in some notable cases transformed the crude reformist and propagandist energies to arrive at a tradition that represents a different literary physiognomy from the tradition composed principally of leftist and Communist writers.” The test given here is whether writers have been able 0 resist or transform “the crude reformist and propagandist energies,” a literary rather than a political test. It is my conviction that with the majority of Chinese writers (and that would include Kuomintang propagandists), their preoccupation with social reform and political propaganda has incapacitated them from rendering the truth of things in all its complexity. Among leftist and Communist authors, I have singled out Mao Tun, Chang T’ien-i, and Wu Tsu-hsiang for praise precisely because their best works give evidence of that literary “integrity” which has enabled them to rise above the mere reformist and propagandist passion. In other words, I deplore literature which, to use Keats’ phrase, has “a palpable design” upon us insofar as that design is incompatible with the full-bodied presentation of reality. Hence I prefer “disinterested moral exploration,” a phrase singled out by Průšek for contemptuous disapprobation, to the less strenuous kind of literary endeavor which is ulteriorly motivated and which is merely content to illustrate some ready-made truth rather than explore it. Průšek is quite mistaken, therefore, when he maintains that “C. T. Hsia repeatedly reproaches Chinese writers for devoting too much attention to social problems and being unable to create a literature unshackled by these problems and unburdened by the struggle for social justice.” Surely, in accordance with my emphasis on “disinterested moral exploration,” the more problems a work of literature explores, not merely social problems but also political and metaphysical; the more it is concerned with justice, not merely social justice but the ultimate justice of man’s fate—the greater it is, provided in tackling these problems, the author is not merely applying ready-made solutions in the spirit of didactic simplification. Surely, the modern Chinese novels to which I accord the highest praise, such as Mao Tun’s The Eclipse, Pa Chin’s Cold Nights, and Eileen Chang’s The Rice-Sprout Song, are the very reverse of “escapist literature”;3 they are all ambitious works of passion and insight, exploring a wide range of social and philosophical problems touching on man’s fate.
But the problems have to be concretely embodied. For this reason I quote in my concluding chapter a maxim of D. H. Lawrence, “Lose no time with ideals; serve the Holy Ghost; never serve mankind” and apply it to modern Chinese fiction by saying that its generally mediocre level is “surely due to its preoccupation with ideals, its distracting and overinsistent concern with mankind” (p. 499). Literature—imaginative literature—cannot deal with mankind in the abstract without forfeiting its specific character as literature; it can only deal with individuals. It should not merely adorn or affirm ideals, it tests them in the actuality of the concrete human situation. Hence I contrast the concrete, the realistic, the individually human in literary representation with the abstract, the idealistic, the stereotyped. Professor Harry Levin of Harvard is surely right when he designates socialist realism as “more precisely, an uncritical idealism—or, as they [the Soviet critics] would put it in candid moments, a revolutionary romanticism.”4 Compared with the uncritical idealism of most socialist-realist and romantic-revolutionary fiction, the kind of critical realism, however unambitious, as exemplified by Lu Hsün and the good writers succeeding him appeared to me so praiseworthy that I have not hesitated to value it as the only tradition in modern Chinese fiction worthy of serious comment.
If, after stating my critical principles, I still appear dogmatically intolerant, at least my intolerance of bad writing will be seen to have been a consequence of my commitment to literary standards and not a consequence of my political prejudices. My only “dogma” would appear to be that the same standards of criticism should apply to all literature, irrespective of nation, period, and ideology. A literary historian, of course, should possess the necessary linguistic competence and the necessary biographical and historical knowledge for the proper appréciation of any writer, any period, but this historical scholarship cannot excuse him from the ultimate responsibility of literary judgment. Professor René Wellek has with his usual compelling judiciousness contradistinguished literary study from historical study:
Literary study differs from historical study in having to deal not with documents but with monuments. A historian has to reconstruct a long-past event on the basis of eye-witness accounts; the literary student, on the other hand, has direct access to his object: the work of art . . . He can examine his object, the work itself; he must understand, interpret, and evaluate it; he must, in short, be a critic in order to be a historian . . . Many attempts have been made to escape the inevitable consequence of this insight, to avoid the necessity not only of selection but of judgment, but all have failed and must, I think, fail unless we want to reduce literary study to a mere listing of books, to annals or a chronicle. There is nothing which can obviate the necessity of critical judgment, the need of aesthetic standards, just as there is nothing which can obviate the need of ethical and logical standards.5
Průšek, on the contrary, believes that, as a literary historian, I should have acquired a sufficient degree of historical sympathy so as to absolve me from the “necessity of critical judgment.” Hence his second general charge about my “disregard for human dignity.” Průšek is well aware, of course, that my book has repeatedly emphasized the need of compassion and respect for the individual. Thus I wrote, “Most contemporary Chinese writers reserve their sympathies for the poor and downtrodden; the idea that any person, irrespective of class and position, is a fit object for compassionate understanding is alien to them” (p. 91). Even if one agrees with Průšek and the Marxist historians that “the chief enemies of progress” in modern China were “landowners, usurers, speculators and the compradore bourgeoisie,” it does not follow that the literary task is therefore to depict these groups in the blackest color possible and divest them of their humanity. To indulge in melodramatic distortion is ultimately to cheapen human life and to debase the humane profession of letters.
Yet in Průšek’s view, I have disregarded human dignity nevertheless, because it is his impression that I have belittled so many writers for their mediocre performance. He actually shows little disposition to disagree entirely with me on these poor works, but he thinks it is the critic’s duty to exercise his forbearance and take into sympathetic account the authors’ intentions. “If we disregard the aim which the writer had in view,” he chides me, “we cannot do justice to his work.” Thus in defense of Chao Shu-li’s early tales, he says querulously, “C. T. Hsia simply ignores the need to create a literature for the broad masses.” Průšek agrees that Chao Shu-li’s novel, San-li Wan, is a failure, but then he explains, “Undeniably, in this last work Chao Shu-li came up against the difficult problem of how to give his work dramatic tension, when its main task was to describe quiet development and to underline the positive aspects of the characters portrayed.” Similarly, Průšek concedes that Ting Ling’s Water is at least a partial failure, but the critic should nevertheless condone her lack of success because for her “it was a problem of considerable complexity to describe the life-history, not of individuals, but of a whole collective.” Průšek applies this principle of forgiveness not only to works of fiction but to theoretical works as well. Thus he refuses to argue with me over the merits of Mao Tse-tung’s Talks at the Yenan Literary Conference, simply dismissing my “completely distorted” appraisal with an angry remark, “C. T. Hsia does not see the absolutely urgent need to create a new literature and art for the broad masses, now politically and culturally awaking, the greater part of whom were still illiterate.”
For Průšek’s kind of critical approach, two distinguished literary theorists, W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., and Monroe Beardsley, have a phrase, “the Intentional Fallacy,” which has met with almost universal acceptance in American and British academic circles. According to Wimsatt and Beardsley, “the Intentional Fallacy is a confusion between the poem [i.e., the work of literature] and its origins, a special case of what is known to philosophers as the Genetic Fallacy. It begins by trying to derive the standard of criticism from the psychological causes, f the poem and ends in biography and relativism.”6 The intention of an author is not to be erected as “a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art,”7 whatever valuable light it may throw on that work. As literary historians and critics, we cannot therefore evaluate a work by referring to its supposed intention at the neglect of its objective content, as has been Průšek’s practice throughout his review, and certainly we cannot condone a poor work simply because we feel the author’s intentions have been laudable. As I said in my concluding chapter, “A literature is to be judged not by its intentions but by its actual performance: its intelligence and wisdom, its sensibility and style” (p. 506). The same goes for works of theory and criticism. One cannot presuppose “the absolutely urgent need to create a new literature and art” from reading Mao’s Talks; to analyze that document itself, on the other hand, is to provide us with clues why in 1942 Mao had called a halt to the petty-bourgeois trends of the earlier leftist literature and proclaimed a new era of propagandist literature.
The literary historian should ideally pass over bad works in silence. But when the said works have been praised as masterpieces to a credulous public, it is surely his duty to analyze them in some detail and expose their faults. However sympathetic toward such persecuted writers as Hsiao Chün and Ting Ling, I have therefore tried to exercise scrupulous objectivity in my unflattering appraisal of their works. In retrospect, I believe I have been unfair to Ting Ling not because my estimates of her particular works, Water and Sun over the Sangkan River, are mistaken, but because they are not her most characteristic works. If I had focused attention on her early stories and Yenan stories, a different picture of her achievement would have resulted.8 But as a modern woman who had intended to make her life an experiment in freedom, Ting Ling certainly would not have minded my few brief references to her love life: it is the systematic and malicious distortion of that life by her Communist persecutors during the 1957 trials that was truly frightening.
It is Průšek’s intentionalist approach to the study of literature that has prompted his bitter complaint about my “disregard for human dignity”; it is also his intentionalist approach that characterizes his understanding of modern Chinese literature as a whole. To his mind, literature is but the handmaiden of history. Since he agrees with the “Marxist theoreticians” that modern Chinese history is nothing but a record of the Chinese people’s self-conscious struggle, under the leadership of the Communist Party, against “the survivals of feudalism” and “foreign imperialism” toward their full liberation, little wonder that he reserves his highest praise for works that seem to have given the fullest embodiment to that historical struggle and that he assigns no weight to works that seem to have nothing to do with that struggle, whatever their other claims to human truth and artistic excellence. Hence he speaks repeatedly of the “mission of literature,” an otherwise inexplicable phrase from a scholar passionately concerned with scientific objectivity. Thus preoccupied, Průšek is apparently unaware of the danger of using the literary record merely as a record of history, as a testament to the spirit of the age. I believe, on the contrary, that the literary historian should go about his task empirically: he should not allow preconceived notions of history to determine his quest for excellence, and he should form his own opinion about the vitality and culture of an age precisely on the strength of the literary record he has examined. To him, a lonely genius working in supposed defiance of the Zeitgeist may ultimately sum up that age much more meaningfully than a host of minor writers walking fully in step with the times. Thus, whatever historians and reporters may say of China since 1949, if one finds the literature produced since that date to be infinitely dreary, then this cultural fact should be taken into careful account in one’s objective evaluation of the period. This inductive method seems to me far more scientific than the contrary method, the deductive method adopted by Průšek of first broadly defining the historical image of a period and then of finding literature to fit that image.
One is not surprised that, preoccupied with the historical mission and social function of literature, Průšek appears a particularly didactic critic, a critic who supposes that all that really matters in literature is the correct message, the fighting spirit, the zeal and optimism. Thus even of Lu Hsün, whose best works all predate the Communist ascendancy in China and indicate art unregimented individualist contemplating the fate of China with a hope akin to despair, Průšek has the “intrepidity” if I may use his word, to make the following critical estimate: “We would indeed be justified in drawing the conclusion that the more sharply Lu Hsün expressed his standpoint, the more definite the position he took up in the social struggle, the more successful were his stories in every way.”
Nothing else, apparently, matters: artistic success is “in every way” assured once a writer manages to express his standpoint sharply and take up a definite position in the social struggle. Even if Průšek assumes here Lu Hsiin’s customary stylistic excellence, he implicitly ignores all the attendant personal, emotional, and even physiological circumstances that normally play a part in determining whether the work now being contemplated or composed will result in an artistic success. Průšek apparently mistrusts the role of the unconscious—and with good reason. How can one maintain a sharply expressed viewpoint and a definite position in the social struggle if one opens the gates of the unconscious and lets one’s dark and invariably subversive dreams, desires, and fears impede the full articulation of one’s conscious, enlightened will? The inevitable corollary, therefore, is that the less emotionally charged a work is, the less exposed to the full exercise of the imagination, the more successful it will be in the business of maintaining a correct standpoint and positive position. Little wonder, then, that Průšek regards the wartime literature of the Liberated Areas as indicative of the most glorious age in the whole history of the Chinese people. Fully committed to the propagandist task of arousing the broad masses, the writers had no personal demon to wrestle with, no petty-bourgeois artistic conscience to hinder the full and glorious expression of their correct standpoint and position. Yet, by the same token, one wonders why Průšek still so highly values Lu Hsün, who, according to him, “up to 1928 had still various doubts and fits of pessimism,” when the writers of the Liberated Areas were manifestly more dedicated to the task of the social struggle? Indeed, for clarity of standpoint, for definiteness of position, and for ease of comprehension (since Průšek is also vitally concerned with the broad masses), why should he not prefer slogans to the simple stories, poems, and plays of the Yenan period? Why, indeed, bother about literature? When one thinks of Hamlet, one shudders at its author’s pronounced “doubts” and “pessimism” that disfigure every page of the play.
II. Lu Hsün
As a demonstration of his objective reading, Prûsek devotes twenty pages of his 47-page review to Lu Hsün. Though the Lu Hsün chapter occupies only 27 pages in the 507 pages of my main text, apparently upon the test case of Lu Hsün rests the burden of proof that my entire picture of modern Chinese fiction is willfully distorted.
The reader should be reminded that I have not at all “debunked” Lu Hsün. Primarily concerned with his status as a short-story writer, I have examined nine of his stories—and three of them, “Medicine,” “The New Year’s Sacrifice,” “Soap,” in greater detail—and come to the conclusion that these nine “constitute the finest body of fiction for the first period [1917-27] and place their author in the forefront as a story-writer” (p. 45). I maintain at the same time that his talent is “distinguished if narrow” and that many of his stories are quite disappointing. On the evidence of two small collections, Na-han and P’ang-huang, one cannot in fairness say more: to assign him a greater importance is to be unjust to the more resourceful and dedicated fiction writers who came after him. Not to mention the novelists Mao Tun and Lao She, would it be fair to story-writers like Chang I ‘ien-i and Shen Ts’ung-wen, who in sheer creative fecundity far surpass Lu Hsün? In the face of the dozen or so distinguished volumes of short stories published by Chang T’ien-i in the thirties, how could one persist in believing Lu Hsün to be the greatest or most important story-writer of modern China? It is true that, because Lu Hsün came upon the modern scene first, some of his characters like Ah Q and K’ung I-chi have made an indelible impression upon the Chinese mind, whereas none of Chang T’ien-i’s memorable characters seem to have possessed the same symbolic and representative importance. Partly, it is the accident of history that the initiators of a genre seem far more interesting and significant than its more mature practitioners; but principally, it is due to the unconscionable neglect by the Chinese critics that Chang T’ien-i, a writer well within the mainstream of leftist fiction, should have never been given a small fraction of that attention lavished upon his senior.
By calling his section on Lu Hsün “Confrontation of Methods,” Průšek indicates his intention to demonstrate that, whereas my “subjective” approach consistently “misinterprets or, at best, obscures the true significance of Lu Hsün’s literary production,” his own objective method has enabled him to “grasp the character of Lu Hsün’s oeuvre and to carry out a scientific analysis.” My principal and inexcusable crime, according to Průšek is that I have attributed to Lu Hsün a love for old China, which colors my interpretation of his life and work. Průšek bases his charge upon two passages in my text. The first compares Lu Hsün to James Joyce (p. 32):
One may indeed compare the best stories of Lu Hsün to Dubliners. Shaken by the sloth, superstition, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the rural and town people, whom new ideas could not change, Lu Hsün repudiates his home town and, symbolically, the old Chinese way of life; yet, as in the case of Joyce, this town and these people remain the stuff and substance of his creation.
The second comments on the hero of the story, “In the Restaurant” (p. 41):
Yet, as actually realized in the story, the kindness and piety of Lü Wei-fu, however pathetic, also demonstrates the positive strength of the traditional mode of life, toward which the author must have been nostalgically attracted in spite of his contrary intellectual conviction.
In both passages, I have been careful to maintain the distinction between Lu Hsün’s intellectual repudiation of the old Chinese way of life and his emotional or nostalgic attachment to this way of life “in spite of his contrary intellectual conviction.” An artist does not live by the intellect alone, and he cannot help the accidents of his birth and early environment. The symbol of his ideological hatred, the home town remains for Lu Hsün nevertheless “the principal source of his inspiration” (p. 31). Throughout my treatment of Lu Hsün never have I once suggested that he was intellectually attracted or ideologically committed to the traditional mode of life. On the contrary, I maintain that, as a tsa-wen writer, he castigates “all manner of Chinese vices,” needles “popular assumptions of national superiority,” and attacks “all lovers of traditional Chinese art and culture.”
Průšek is completely mistaken, therefore, when he maintains against all evidence to the contrary that “according to C. T. Hsia, Lu Hsün rejected on the one hand the traditional forms of Chinese life, while being, on the other, continually attracted by them. This is for C. T. Hsia proof of the vacillating ideological orientation of Lu Hsün, which, as he would have believe, went so far as to destroy, in the long run, his creative powers.” Never once did I suggest the slightest likelihood of the kind of “vacillating ideological orientation” formulated here. I believe, on the contrary, that his complex involvement with the home town—the traditional life, far from being a sign of “vacillating ideological orien֊ tation,” provided the necessary artistic impetus toward the creation of his finest work—not only his best stories, but also the prose poems in Wild Grass and the childhood sketches in Morning Flowers Picked in Evening. His eventual ideological vacillation, as I see it, is something quite different. It has to do with a crucial crisis in his personal and creative life in the years 1928-29 when, under the pressure of criticism and the dictates of fashion, he largely forsook his deep-seated, somber, individualist faith in modern enlightenment, which had been nourished since his early youth upon his reading in nineteenth-century European literature and thought, in favor of a superficial adherence to a Communist program of collective action. It is my belief that this new allegiance never took root in the soil of his emotional being, so that the voluminous and repetitive tsa-wen of his later years, frequently petty and strident in tone, betray the loss of his creative powers and the impairment of his personal integrity. It is in terms of this emotional sterility and ideological reorientation that I analyzed the failure of his last creative effort, Old Legends Retold: “In his fear of searching his own mind and disclosing thereby his pessimistic and somber view of China at complete variance with his professed Communist faith, Lu Hsün could only repress his deep-seated personal emotions in the service of political satire” (p. 46). His intellectual repudiation of old China is not in question here.
Committed to his scientific hypothesis of Lu Hsün’s unwavering intellectual development as a revolutionary fighter, Průšek, typically, refuses to see any political re-orientation in his emergence as a nominal leader of Communist writers in the year 1930 following a period of painful ideological vacillation. He therefore misreads my account of this crisis as simply a matter of his being alternately repelled and attracted by “the traditional forms of Chinese life.” Characteristically, he refuses to debate with me about the later phase of Lu Hsün’s life and work, simply repudiating my account as “a mixture of half-truths and distortions of fact” and recommending the reader to Huang Sung-k’ang’s “objective” study.
As regards Průšets critique of my appraisal of individual stories, may I acknowledge first of all the justice of his complaint about my inadequate appreciation of “The Diary of a Madman.” As a result of further reading and teaching, I have now come to the conclusion that it is one of Lu Hsün’s most assured successes. The irony and the technical virtuosity, which I have commented on, now seem to me to go hand in hand with a subtle exposition of the theme, largely in imagistic and symbolic terms, so that it was quite wrong of me to expect the author to “provide a realistic plot” and present the madman’s case in “dramatic terms.” I am grateful to Průšek for having called public attention to my inadequate reading of this story.
But in general, when pinpointing my faults, Průšek writes as if he had expected from me a monograph on Lu Hsün rather than a comprehensive survey of modern Chinese fiction: he complains repeatedly of my confinement to “purely subjective observations” and inability to carry out a much more detailed scientific analysis. Moreover, these subjective observations are as a rule cunningly phrased so as to disguise and obscure the resolute, fighting charater of Lu Hsün’s fiction. Thus, in discussing the story “My Native Place,” he takes strong exception to my description of Jun-t’u as “a weather-beaten man burdened with family care” and points to the phrase “family care” as a misleading euphemism intended to cover up for “all the evils which had made a complete wreck” of this man. Průšek gives the list as follows: “oppressive taxes, soldiery, children, Government offices, usurers.” The text, however, arranges it in a different order: “Many children, famines [sic], taxes, soldiers, bandits, officials, and landed gentry.”9 With his scientific objectivity and his scrupulous regard for an author’s intentions, I wonder why Průšek has rearranged the list to unwarrantably emphasize man-made afflictions (“oppressive taxes, soldiery”) whereas Lu Hsün gives greater emphasis to natural misfortunes (too many mouths to feed and frequent famine) to account for Jun-t’u’s present misery.
My formulation, “burdened with family care,” in contrast, does greater justice to this aspect of the peasant’s plight duly stressed in the tale. When Jun-t’u first visits the author to pay his respects, he brings along his fifth child, a boy about eleven or twelve sui old.10 In the ensuing conversation, a sixth child is mentioned—since he is able to help on the farm, he must be between ten and eight. During a subsequent visit, Jun-t’u brings along a five-sui-old girl, presumably his seventh or eighth child. And since he himself is only forty-one or forty-two, there could be one or two or three children who were born after her. The pathos of the situation is that, though Jun-t’u is able to correlate his misery with bad harvests and unjust financial exactions, he is incapable of the further reflection that his large brood is a bane rather than a blessing. A typical Chinese peasant, he complains with incomprehension, “Even my sixth can do a little work, but still we haven’t enough to eat,”11 because he looks upon his children primarily as producers and not as consumers. But to the author, since poor crops, taxes, soldiers, bandits, and gentry are endured alike by the peasants of the district, it is precisely the size of his family that defines Jun-t’u’s peculiar misfortune, which has transformed a boy of exuberant spirits into a weather-beaten man of dashed hopes, clutching at his gods.
Průšek then accuses me of deliberate misrepresentation when I quoted a passage from the story to stress Lu Hsün’s honesty in equating his own ill-founded hope for the younger generation with Jun-t’u’s superstitious concern with his own welfare. According to Průšek, I should have cited instead a briefer passage at the end, which indicates that hope is like a road: there was no road to begin with, “but when many men pass one way, a road is made.” I may first of all remind Průšek that a story, like a poem, is not paraphrasable: the only fair way to present “My Native Place” is to translate the text without comment, but even then, the translation, because it is cast in a different language, will also have distorted the meaning. In a one-page review, one could only point to the highlights. In the story, the author’s reflections on the delusiveness of hope enjoy the position of a climax to a dramatic incident—Jun-t’u’s asking for the censer and candlesticks to worship his idols with—and therefore should receive proper emphasis, whereas the oft-quoted passage at the end represents to me an afterthought, quite detached from the main body of the story. It is as typical of Lu Hsün as the wistful ending of “The Diary of a Madman”: “Perhaps there are still some children who have not yet become cannibalistic? Save these children . . .” In both instances, Lu Hsün tries to convince himself that some ground for hope must be indicated even though the stories themselves provide no hope.12
Since Průšek cites the concluding passage from “My Native Place” to remind me that in Na-han at least, Lu Hsün is much more hopeful and optimistic than I have made him out to be, we may turn to the Preface to that collection to see how the author himself characterizes his mental condition in the writing of these stories. Indeed, with his high regard for the writer’s intentions, Průšek himself quotes twice briefly from that document to prove Lu Hsün’s resolute bravery, though both times he neglects to provide the necessary contexts to make the passages yield their full meaning. According to the preface, the title Na-han is part of an elaborate military metaphor by which the author views himself as a mere foot soldier in the battle against the tradition. The leaders of the new culture movement—the editors of New Youth—are viewed as lonely commanders on horseback charging into the enemy ranks. As in old-style military romances, the commanders are here given all the credit for the actual fighting, while the foot soldiers merely yell (the term na-han comes from such stock phrases as “wave the banners and yell and “beat the drums and yell” ) to boost the morale and provide the proper encouragement. As a reluctant conscript (earlier in the preface, he tells us how he has been pressed into service by Ch’ien Hsüan-t’ung, an editor of New Youth), however, Lu Hsün doesn’t care whether his decorative yell is “brave or sad, repellent or ridiculous.” “However, since it is a call to arms,” he continues, “I must naturally obey my commanders’ orders. This is why I feel no compunction in resorting to innuendoes, as when I made a wreath appear from nowhere at the son’s grave in “Medicine” while in “Tomorrow” I did not say that Fourth Shan’s Wife had no dreams of her little boy. For our commanders then were against pessimism. And I, for my part, did not want to infect with the loneliness I had found so bitter those young people who were still dreaming pleasant dreams, just as I had done when young.”13
The last sentence reverts to an earlier parable in the preface which states that many people—the Chinese nation—are sound asleep in an indestructible iron house without windows. Lu Hsün thinks it would be cruel to wake these people up because, once awake, they would only face the agony of suffocation and death without the hope of relief. His interrogator, Ch’ien Hsüan-t’ung, argues, however, that if enough питbers are aroused, there might be a chance of destroying that house. Lu Hsün agrees; even though he still sticks to his conviction that the house cannot be destroyed, he feels at the same time, “I could not blot out hope, for hope lies in the future.”14
In these two carefully worked out metaphors, does the author see himself as a brave fighter rushing to the forefront to combat feudalism? (Mao Tse-tung’s subsequent assertion that Lu Hsün was “the greatest and bravest standard-bearer of the new cultural army” and “the commander of the cultural revolution” [p. 29] appears to contradict completely the author’s self-portrayal as an insignificant foot soldier yelling to the tune of his commanders and not knowing whether his cry denotes bravery or sadness.) Yes, he provides a hopeful note here and there, because it will be against the orders of the commanders to indulge in pessimism. More poignantly, he provides some hope because it would be too cruel to awaken these young people dreaming their pleasant dreams in an iron house. As a fully awakened person, he himself is faced with bitter loneliness and also saddled with the “conviction” that the house cannot be destroyed. Despite the reconstructed “scientific” facts in support of Lu Hsün’s brave optimism, it would seem that my interpretation of “My Native Place” and other stories in the same collection is far more in accord with the author’s appraisal of his intention as given in the preface, even though I set far less store by intentional statements and actually analyzed the stories without making specific references to these statements.
Průšek, however, would assign greater weight to a later document, “How I Came to Write Stories,” as an expression of the author’s intention. This article was written to order in the year 1933, when Lu Hsün, as a prominent member of the Left-wing League, had to sustain his image as a resolute fighter of the reaction. But, characteristically, in this essay as in the slightly earlier preface to Tzu-hsüan chi (), he maintains scrupulous honesty in reporting on his earlier career and does not at all repudiate the account of himself given in the preface to Na-han. Indeed, he calls “How I Came to Write Stories” a “complement” to that preface. He recalls the intellectual and literary climate of the May Fourth period and says that he wrote “in the hope of enlightening my people, for humanity, and of the need to better it . . . So my themes were usually the unfortunates in this abnormal society. My aim was to expose the disease and draw attention to it so that it might be cured.”15 The last sentence is much less emphatic in the original; it reads, “My aim was to expose the disease so as to draw attention to its cure.”16 Though Lu Hsün assumes here a firmer tone as befits his new cultural role in the thirties, his statement of aim does not contradict my account: “It must be remembered that Lu Hsün’s primary ambition as a writer was to serve his country as a spiritual physician. In his best stories, however, he is content to probe the disease without prescribing a cure: he has too high a respect for the art of fiction to present other than the unadorned truth” (p. 46). In his tsa-wen essays, he is emphatically didactic. In his best stories he exposes the disease and draws attention to its cure, but he does not prescribe a cure.
From this digression on intentions, we return now to an examination of some of the other stories. According to Průšek, “Medicine” is another tale I have misread because I am not appreciative of its hopeful note. He believes my account of the story implies that “Lu Hsün did not believe in the Revolution [the anti-Manchu revolution, by the way, and not the Communist revolution],” whereas all I said in this connection is that “the death of Hsia indicates Lu Hsün’s gloomy view of the revolutionary cause in China” (p. 35). Lu Hsün’s personal belief or disbelief is immaterial here, but the unjust and unavenged execution of the hero assuredly places the revolutionary cause in a pessimistic light. (In section 3 of the story, the small citizens gathered at the teahouse, the would-be benefactors of the revolution, gossip about the martyr in tones of malicious contempt.) But I immediately qualified my earlier statement by saying that, in spite of the author’s pessimism, “he lodges a memorable protest over Hsia’s unjust execution” (p. 35) by placing upon his grave a Western-style wreath. But perhaps even the word “protest” is too strong, since the officials responsible for his death would not visit the cemetery for the poor on a festival day like the Ch’ing Ming, and even if they did, they would be, like Hsia’s mother, completely baffled by the anachronistic significance of the wreath. If Lu Hsün had really wanted to be militantly hopeful, he could have conceived the story in an entirely different fashion. Hsia could have escaped from the prison, with or without the assistance of his comrades; he could also have saved the life of Hua by sending him to a Western-style hospital in Shanghai (alas, there were then no socialist hospitals with free service for the poor). He could, furthermore, have given Hua’s parents a lecture about the inhumanity of their superstitious practices. If the new plot sounds too much like a present-day Communist story where the hero is invincible, the poor are getting the best of care, and everybody in the end is enlightened and happy, my intended parody shows how wrong it is for Průšek to read into the story a firmer message of hope than the text warrants.
Průšek appears thoroughly irritated by my symbolic reading of the story. He objects particularly to my linking the names of the two youths to read Hua-hsia (), China. It is his belief that, as a “deeply erudite student of Chinese literature,” Lu Hsün knew only too well what a senseless game it is to toy with words and meanings. The stories supply the contrary evidence, however, that precisely because of his literary erudition, Lu Hsün chose the names of his characters with particular care, investing them often with symbolic and/or comic connotations. A simple example is Kao Erh-ch’, the idiculous hero of “Professor Kao,” who styles himself after Gorky . A particularly happy example of the author’s ingenuity is the name Ah Q. As Chou Tso-jen has aptly observed,17 Q stands as a pictograph of a man’s head with the dangling end of his queue showing. And since “Q” is an exact homophon for the word “queue” and since the queue is a shameful badge of feudalism, one is not surprised that the queue plays a highly symbolic and comic role in the satiric story of A 1 Q. According to Chou Tso-jen, the real-life counterpart of K’ung I־chi was surnamed Meng and nicknamed Master Meng .18 Since Lu Hsün regards this character as a marginal member of the Confucian scholar-official class, he changed his name to the even more symbolic K’ung.
In like fashion, as critics have long pointed out, Lu Hsün chose the name Hsia Yü for the martyr in “Medicine” to commemorate the woman revolutionary Ch’iu Chin . Ch’iu (Autumn) parallels Hsia (Summer), and the synonyms chin and yü share the same jade radical and go together as a phrase. (Thus among the famous personages of the Three Kingdoms period, Chou Yü is styled and Chu-ko Chin is styled .) Once Lu Hsün hit upon the surname Hsia, it was only natural that he should assign the other victim of feudal ignorance the surname Hua, to enhance the symbolic or allegoric meaning of the story. As Hua is not a common family name, if Lu Hsün had not intended the additional dimension of meaning which the two names in conjunction would immediately suggest, he could have used any number of commoner names, like Wang or Li. As for Průšek’s alternative suggestion that the two names “underline the fact expressed in the tale, that brother eats brother,” it simply doesn’t make sense. Both Hua and Hsia are victims of the old society, one ravaged by a wasting disease and the other murdered for his revolutionary crime. It is the executioner, the officialdom standing solidly behind him, the indifferent and malicious gossipers at the teahouse, who represent the “cannibalistic character of the old society.”
Průšek strongly disapproves of the kind of cannibalistic society as portrayed in “Medicine” in that it “enthusiastically sanctions the torture and killing of a fellow-creature whose crime was that he wished to liberate them.” In his discussion of “K’ung I-chi,” “White Glow,” and “The New Year’s Sacrifice,” he also comments repeatedly on the “insensate cruelty of society” and “the dull indifference of the milieu.” Inexplicably, however, at the same time he takes strong exception to my inclusion of “the sloth, superstition, cruelty, and hypocrisy of the rural and town people” as an inherent part of Lu Hsün’s fictional world. According to Průšek, this description completely conceals the fact that “the aim and purpose of Lu Hsün’s oeuvre was . . . not only to lay bare the general insensibility and cruelty of Chinese society, but, above all, to point the finger at those who were responsible for this state of affairs.” To prove his point, he asserts that the principal villain in “The New Year’s Sacrifice” is the heroine’s employer, “the conservative upholder of Confucian morality, the honorable Mr. Lu.” A few pages earlier, however, he has spoken of Hsiang-lin Sao’s tragedy in terms of “a terrifying fatality and cruelty,” of “the absolute helplessness of a human being dragged to destruction by obscure forces.” These obscure forces, it turns out, are now incarnated in the very visible person of the detestable Mr. Lu.
In order to ascertain Mr. Lu’s crime, we have to review the story at some length. The main event which unhinges Hsiang-lin Sao’s mind, as every reader of the story will agree, is the death of her young son. Upon her second return to Lu-chen, she continually talks about this tragic incident, to the eventual disgust and contempt of the townspeople and her fellow servants. Though her second husband and her son have died within a short time of each other, she never refers to the former, and yet there is nothing in the text to indicate that their conjugal relationship had been unsatisfactory. Hsiang-lin Sao, nevertheless, is obsessed with the death of her son because it is through her negligence that a wolf has devoured him. Thus her set speech begins, “I was really stupid, really. I only knew that when it snows the wild beasts . . . may come to the villages; I didn’t know that in spring they could come too.”19 If it were indeed Lu Hsün’s aim to point his accusing finger at the gentry, why should he have made a hungry beast the agent of the son’s death? And for that matter, why should her second husband die of typhoid, when he could have easily died as a victim of gentry oppression? “The New Year’s Sacrifice” could have become a precursor of, say, The White-haired Girl, but apparently Lu Hsün had no intention of coveting this dubious honor.
The wolf is not even part of the human world of feudalism. Hence I speak with justice of the “primitive peasant society” to which Hsiang-lin Sao belongs. It is only in that society that wolves are permitted to roam at large in daytime and snatch infants, that mothers-in-law can forcibly sell their daughters-in-law so that their younger sons may marry, that a convalescent typhoid patient can gobble down a bowl of cold rice to bring about a relapse and hasten his death. (This last detail, usually unmentioned in discussions of the story, indicates how, as a one-time medical student, Lu Hsün was very much concerned with the peasants’ carelessness about their welfare and health: Jun-t’u’s large family is another instance.) And it is not inappropriate that the wolf should play a crucial part in that world; for like Hsiang-lin Sao’s mercenary and cruel mother-in-law, it too stands for that relentless struggle for existence in a forever hungry world of predators and helpless preys. And when one remembers the many references to the wolf in Lu Hsün’s other stories and also his prose poems, the symbolic dimension becomes unmistakable.
After the townspeople, through their indifference and contempt, have caused Hsiang-lin Sao to repress her sorrow and guilt over her son’s death, the maidservant Liu Ma, described as “a devout woman who abstained from meat,”20 turns her attention to another of her supposed crimes that calls for expiation. Liu Ma reminds her that she should have remained chaste to the memory of her first husband and should have killed herself when being forced to marry the second time. Hsiang-lin Sao hasn’t thought of this before, but now frightened, she decides to save enough money to donate a doorsill to a temple. In the process she works hard and doesn’t mind much the continual teasing by the townspeople about the scar on her forehead, the shameful badge of her crime.
The final crushing blow, of course, is delivered by her mistress, Fourth Aunt Lu, who intercepts her in the act of fetching utensils to be used in the ancestral sacrifice. Hsiang-lin Sao thought her crime has been expiated with her purchase of a doorsill, but apparently she is still regarded as an unlucky woman. From then on, she steadily deteriorates. Because Fourth Aunt Lu and her husband can be seen in this respect as the final link in the chain of events leading to her death, Průšek wants us to believe that Mr. Lu is alone responsible for her tragedy.
According to Průšek, it is Mr. Lu who “exploited her, who made her a social outcast, who implanted in her the crazy idea of her guilt and drove her to madness, who deprived her of work and drove her into the streets, who let her die of hunger and cynically commented on her death.” Průšek makes here no mention of the many events in Hsiang-lin Sao’s life we have just reviewed; he ignores completely the more important agents of her tragedy but magnifies the villainy of Mr. Lu out of all proportion to his minor role in the story. First of all, one cannot speak of her “exploitation” by the Lus in the sense that, given the conditions of feudal China, the widow Hsiang-lin Sao could not aspire to better employment than being retained by a genteel family. In her initial term of service, she actually regains her spirits and finds a new purpose in life so that, if her mother-in-law has not forcibly abducted her, she will remain a quite contented person. In the context of the Communist revolution, perhaps her lot will still be considered a miserable one, but since Lu Hsün does not write from the Communist viewpoint, one cannot make this anachronistic accusation. She works hard, of course; “nevertheless, she, on her side, was satisfied; gradually the trace of a smile appeared at the corner of her mouth, and her fact became whiter and plumper.”21 The Lus’ willingness to employ her for the second time is even more a case of benevolence, since most families would not hire a woman who has been twice a widow and shows visible signs of emotional disturbance. On her part, Hsiang-lin Sao feels now she is unwanted not because the Lus treat her harshly (as a matter of fact, they tolerate her inefficiency and frequent spells of absent-mindedness), but because they forbid her to give any menial help in connection with ancestral sacrifices. In this respect, both she and her masters are seen as victims of feudalistic supersition. If either side can take the matter of religious worship less seriously, she will not have felt being rejected.
In my chapter on Lu Hsün I have praised the story for its “flesh and body” representation of feudalism and supersition. With the exception of the first-person narrator (but even he respects the consolatory power of feudal religion so that he doesn’t know how to answer Hsiang-lin Sao’s despairing questions), everyone in the story is in the grip of the superstitious fear of the gods and hell, be he a peasant or a member of the gentry. Lu Hsün makes it clear that Mrs. Lu is quite benevolent, judging by traditional standards, though her husband is more suspicious of and ill-disposed toward people. But the fact of primary importance is that they are both superstitious, and initially, Mr. Lu more than his wife, because he respects more the taboo against hiring a widow. The author’s attitude toward him is satiric not because he is depicted as cruel but because, given his Confucian education, he at least should rise above folk superstition. Cunningly, in the introductory section of the story, the author calls Fourth Uncle Lu a Neo-Confucianist, mentions some of his favorite books by title (one is an annotated edition of the Chin-ssu lu ), recalls his having been exposed to such Neo-Confucian assertions as “Ghosts and spirits are properties of Nature,”22 to underscore his possible freedom from superstitious fears by virtue of his rationalist education. Yet, to the author’s disenchantment and disbelief, he is the one who seems most zealous about preparing the New Year’s Sacrifice and he is the one who makes that unfeeling remark about Hsiang-lin Sao’s death. Průšek thinks his remark is “cynical,” but on the face of things, he is too superstitious to be cynical. He is actually highly incensed that the beggar should have died not earlier nor later, but exactly on the eve of the New Year festival when his family needs all the luck in the world and can ill afford the interference of an inauspicious accident. Fourth Uncle is certainly not charitable, but with ironic objectivity, Lu Hsün shows us at the same time that a temporary servant in the employ of the Lus, a man surely of plebeian origins, regards the event also with distasteful contempt.
Despite the long catalogue of villainies attributed to him by Průšek, in the subsequent retelling of Hsiang-lin Sao’s past history, Fourth Uncle is only assigned a subsidiary role. He complains and grumbles several times, mostly over her unlucky widowhood, and following the climactic scene, after the horror-struck Fourth Aunt has asked Hsiang-lin Sao to desist from helping at the sacrificial table, he orders her to leave the room. Subsequently, of course, the Lus dismiss her after her worsened condition has incapacitated her from domestic service. But since no other family gives her employment, the whole town is in agreement about her undesirability. In dismissing her, Mrs. Lu has not suddenly become cruel; she has become finally convinced that Hsiang-lin Sao is indeed an unlucky person. Like Philoctetes stranded on an island with his incurable wound, like the blinded Oedipus sent to exile, what gods hate, man cannot help—hence my reference to the ethos of “the heroic society of Greek tragedy” (p. 39). And in the term “man” is included every person in Lu-chen who has long jeered at her misfortune. Because of his enlightened education, the author-narrator alone feels keen commiseration and regret over her death. To him, the whole town in its festive gaiety, too preoccupied with the ritual of soliciting “boundless good fortune” for the next year to spare a thought for the unlucky dead, is implicated in her death. But an unwelcome visitor himself, he certainly cannot change its ways of pitiful and largely unself-conscious cruelty; he plans to leave tomorrow.
It is also by reference to Průšek’s presuppositions about the aim and purpose of Lu Hsün’s fiction that we can understand his otherwise tales, Lu Hsün has not singled out the gentry as the primary object of his hatred but has contemplated with sorrow and restrained anger, with compassion and ironic objectivity, the superstition and heartlessness of all “the rural and town people” living under the blighting influence of elementary hunger, disease, and feudalism. It would seem that Průšek has read the story in a very biased way precisely because he feels so certain about “the aim and purpose of Lu Hsün’s oeuvre.” He has read the story primarily to vindicate the thesis that Lu Hsün always points his accusing finger at the evil gentry.
It is also by reference to Průšek’s presuppositions about the aim and purpose of Lu Hsün’s fiction that we can understand his otherwise puzzling disagreement with me about the importance of the story “Soap.” He concedes that “the character-study of the man and the portrayal of his domestic milieu is [sic] extremely well done” and that the “irony is brilliantly effective”; yet he begrudges it a high place among the author’s tales. Lu Hsün himself thought of it very highly: along with only three other stories of his, “The Diary of a Madman,” “Medicine,” and “Divorce,” he placed it in a volume of stories bearing the general title, A Comprehensive Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature.23 Průšek nevertheless thinks that “Soap” lacks “that specific something” uniquely Lu Hsün and does not sum up and “generalize” about “some fundamental feature of Chinese society.” What he means, I suppose, is that the story does not chastise feudal society too harshly but holds it up for seemingly inconsequential ridicule. He seems to believe on principle that the impersonal comic style is incompatible with the serious aim of Lu Hsün’s fiction.
It remains for me to say a few words about Old Legends Retold, now that I have answered in detail Průšek’s specific charges against my misinterpretations of stories from Na-han and P’ang-huang. Průšek regards the later collection very highly and speaks of my inability to grasp the “individuality and originality of Lu Hsün’s artistic technique” to be discerned in that volume. In its defense, however, he resorts rather uncharacteristically to the poetic vocabulary of impressionistic criticism and speaks of the “many-faceted iridescence” of Lu Hsün’s art. I wish he had analyzed at least one episode from any one of the stories in this collection to demonstrate how it conveys “a multiplicity of meanings, every moment relating to a number of layers of reality, their changing hues reminiscent of a winding scarf of rainbow colors.” In the absence of this demonstration, I could only say that Lu Hsün, whose opinion Průšek usually respects, is none too proud of these creations. In the preface to Old Legends Retold and elsewhere, he dwells upon his personal dissatisfaction with his first story in the style of satiric fantasy, “Mending Heaven,” and the faults of that story—a levity of tone and the intrusive note of personal peevishness and ephemeral satire—are largely present in most of the other tales. I would allow that “Pacifying the Flood” and “Picking Ferns” are better than the rest: in the first story, the satiric sketch of the intellectuals on the Culture Mountain, to borrow a phrase from Průšek, sums up a “fundamental feature of Chinese society” and in the second, the hapless heroes, Po-i and Shu-ch’i, in spite of the author’s open mockery, are somewhat reminiscent of the many weakling characters in his non-historical fiction. But the remainder of the volume, in its levity and chaos, marks what I have called “the sad degeneration of a distinguished if narrow talent for fiction” (p. 46).
III. Other Writers
Průšek devotes twenty pages to Lu Hsün; the rest of the writers receiving individual attention in my book, however, are treated together in a third section called “Individual Portraits,” which has only twelveodd pages. There his attention is mainly focused upon Mao Tun and Lao She (their pre-war works), Yeh Shao-chün, Yü Ta-fu, Ting Ling, and Chao Shu-li. Even such well-known authors as Chang T’ien-i, Shen Ts’ung-wen, and Pa Chin are barely mentioned. I have taken pains to demonstrate the literary importance of Eileen Chang and Ch’ien Chungshu, but Průšek dismisses them as merely authors “congenial” to my taste. For a scholar insisting upon scientific objectivity, is it fair that he should so dismiss them? Is it not rather his duty as a reviewer to examine their works and then decide whether they deserve the high praise I have given them? It also seems to me that Průšek has skirted around the long chapter on “Conformity, Defiance, and Achievement,” which treats in detail the continuing ideological struggle among leftist and Communist writers from 1936 to 1957. He touches upon some of the earlier debates, but the major events of the fifties, such as the anti-Hu Feng campaign and the persecution of rightist and revisionist authors, are passed over in silence.
Of the writers discussed in this third section, Průšek shows on the whole less sharp disagreement with my interpretations. (Even on the works of Ting Ling and Chao Shu-li, as has been earlier shown, he admits that I am partially or in the main right, though I have not grasped their intentions.) He seems, however, much more concerned with the problem of omission, noting, for instance, that I failed to discuss any of Lao She’s short stories. Writing a comprehensive history, I had to observe the requirements of proportion and economy. Since I believe that Lao She’s distinctive contribution to modern Chinese literature is as a novelist rather than as a short-story writer, I discussed all his novels, with the exception of the negligible City of Cats, in Chapters ך and 14. If my interpretation of Lao She is indeed faulty, why couldn’t Průšek pinpoint the mistakes in my accounts of the novels, instead of deploring my neglect of the much less important stories?24
In the five-odd pages devoted to Mao Tun and Lao She, Průšek focuses his attention principally on the opening paragraph of Chapter 7, where a general comparison of the two authors is attempted. I have already covered the pre-war career of Mao Tun, and now I proceed to Lao She by way of a transitional passage. It is the penalty one has to pay for writing a book also intended for the general reader that such passages, which would have served no purpose for the specialist, are sometimes necessary. In the said passage, I had to be content with generalities, making no provision for the kind of qualifying statements that would have to be made if I were attempting an exact, detailed comparison: the reader knows that a much longer critique of Lao She will follow. Průšek, on the contrary, lingers over this designedly transitional passage, while paying no attention to the rest of the chapter. Particularly, he exhibits the sentence, “Using the time-honored test of Northern and Southern literary sensibilities, we may say that Lao She represents the North, individualist, forthright, humorous, and Mao Tun, the more feminine South, romantic, sensuous, melancholic” (p. 165), as an example of my “purely subjective approach” to “literary questions” Any objective reader will see that I set little store by that expression, “the time-honored test of Northern and Southern literary sensibilities,” since I refer to this test only once and not again. And even in this single instance of adoption, I use the weak auxiliary verb “may” to indicate the conditional or concessional nature of my statement: “If we use this test, we may say that . . .” Moreover, it surely does no harm to my readers, most of whom are non-specialists, to be informed of this concept of geographical differentiation in traditional Chinese literary and art criticism, even if, according to Průšek this concept is “completely invalid.” In the same captious vein, Průšek goes on to take exception to this and that formulation in my paragraph, without once reminding the reader that I have indeed taken care of these exceptions in my detailed critiques of the two authors.25
When Průšek finally passes on to a discussion of Mao Tun’s individual works, he again reminds me that, as is the case with Lu Hsün, I have not grasped the aim and purpose of his oeuvre and subjected it to a scientific analysis. According to him, Mao Tun “considers literature to be an important weapon in the political arsenal,” and presumably all his own works should be evaluated primarily with reference to that political objective. This, indeed, has been the standard procedure of the Communist critics in China ever since they greeted his first masterpiece, The Eclipse, with a barrage of vituperative criticism. With his undoubted Communist sympathies, they could not understand why he should have cared far more for an honest representation of the revolutionary situation during the Northern Expedition than for the long-term interests of the Party. This political emphasis still obtains in Communist appraisals of Mao Tun today, so that his first two great works, The Eclipse and Rainbow, are always assigned a lesser importance, while a later and coarser work, The Twilight, because of its political orthodoxy, is invariably given the highest praise. I am sorry to see that, with his far greater literary sensitivity and erudition, Průšek nevertheless endorses this critical approach. Thus he apologizes for the fact that The Eclipse was “written under the impression of a despairing mood,” whereas it was precisely this despairing mood, as I have demonstrated in my book, that had contributed so immensely to its human truth and emotional power. Again Průšek apologizes that Rainbow is “not particularly typical of Mao Tun” even though Part I of that work shows the novelist at the peak of his form. I may remark that, though he enjoys universal fame as Communist China’s greatest novelist, on the mainland only two of his novels and a handful of his stories have received unqualified praise. Even monographs devoted to a survey of his writing career hardly discuss such later works as the novel Maple Leaves as Red as February Flowers and the fine stories collected under the title Grievances.26 His oeuvre has suffered drastic amputation on the Procrustean bed of Communist criticism.
I rank The Twilight “among major contemporary Chinese novels,” though I deem it a big failure in terms of what the author could have done with his material if he had followed the lines of development indicated in The Eclipse and Rainbow. Lifting phrases from my book, Průšek accuses me on the contrary of having failed to notice “the accent of passion or conviction” and the signs of a “self-tormenting honesty,” though I have taken pain to explain why “the self-tormenting honesty of The Eclipse and Rainbow” (p. 157) is missing from the later work. As a proof of the author’s “self-tormenting honesty,” he cites the “on the whole negative picture of Communist Party functionaries” and of women factory workers presented in the book. Now the novel takes place in 1930, when the Communist activists in Shanghai were all perforce following the Li Li-san line. Mao Tun composed it in 1931-32, at a time when the then Communist leadership had harshly repudiated that line. Writing from hindsight, he had no choice but to present a “negative picture” of such misdirected Communists as K’e Tso-fu and Ts’ai Chen. To give a more flattering portrait, on the contrary, would have called for the exercise of personal courage and “self-tormenting honesty” For a succinct presentation of the political content of The Twilight, the reader is recommended to T. A. Hsia, Enigma of the Five Martyrs (Berkeley, 1962), an engrossing study of the intricate connections between Communist literary workers and party leaders in 1930
Because in the chapter on Mao Tun I direct my attention primarily to the novels, Průšek accuses me of treating his short stories in “a very stepmotherly fashion.” Again, as with Lu Hsün, he expects me to have written a much longer chapter, if not a monograph on the author. In support of his charge, he cites my supposed misunderstanding of two stories, “Creation” and “Spring Silkworms.” In regard to the former, I have written only a one-sentence summary, which goes, “The heroine of ‘Creation’ feels compelled to leave her husband and mentor because she had advanced beyond his noncommittal intellectual dilettantism to a positive socialist position” (p. 161). Průšek believes, on the other hand, that the heroine has reached only a “very indefinite” political position, and proceeds to give his own interpretation of the story, in more words. Of course, neither my brief summary nor his longer commentary could have done adequate justice to a story of over thirty pages. I could say of Průšek’s account, for example, that he has completely ignored the conspicuous erotic element in the story: in his early fiction (as I have shown in my discussion of The Eclipse and Rainbow and my briefer comment on The Wild Roses), Mao Tun’s distinctive forte lies in his passionate dual concern with the ideological and the erotic.
As for Průšek^s objection to my phrase, “positive socialist position,” I believe that its mention in my summary is justified by the text so long as I do not specify the political party, whether Communist or anarchist, to which the heroine is drawn. Her husband is a great reader of political philosophy, including “Kropotkin, Marx, Lenin,” though his political views remain strictly non-subversive. He has encouraged his wife to read about politics, but the unexpected result is that she shows so much interest and concern that she has lately joined an “unsound and illegal (= subversive) political movement.”27 She takes to another mentor, a Miss Li, who completely upsets her husband’s program of education for her. (In stories of this type, highly popular in the late twenties and early thirties, the mysterious stranger to whom the hero or heroine turns for guidance is usually a Communist, though to bypass the censor, his political identity is frequently not disclosed.) So the husband laments his ruined creation: “He had destroyed Hsien-hsien’s easygoing noncha־ lance, but materialism had replaced it; he had destroyed her affectation of an old-style scholar’s distaste for politics, but radical and extremist political thought had usurped its place, not to be dislodged.”28 Taking into consideration the censorship requirements of the times, one should think that such words and expressions as “unsound and illegal political movement,” “materialism,” “radical and extremist political thought,” along with the specific mention of the names of Kropotkin, Marx, and Lenin, are not at all ambiguous in indicating Hsien-hsien’s commitment to a socialist, if not Communist, position. And Průšek to the contrary, her parting message to her husband, relayed by a servant, removes all possible doubt as to what the author is driving at: “She’s gone. She has asked me to tell you: she’s now going ahead first, and may you catch up with her . . . And she added, if you don’t intend to catch up with her, she’s not going to wait for you either.”29
Průšek berates me for distorting the meaning of “Spring Silkworms,” a story I praised highly, perhaps too highly. Prior, to offering my own interpretation, however, I gave the reader the standard reading: “As a Communist commentary on the Chinese scene, ‘Spring Silkworms’ shows the bankruptcy of the peasantry under the dual pressure of imperialist aggression and traditional usury, and as such the story is usually praised” (p. 163). I suppose if I had continued in this vein, Průšek would for once have praised me for my objectivity. But I found this didactic reading quite inadequate and so I traced the story’s “strength and appeal” to the author’s ritualistic attention to the minute details of silkworm-raising and to his largely sympathetic portrayal of the old farmer T’ung-pao and his loyal family working beside him. I was well aware, of course, that Mao Tun does not approve of “their unsparing diligence and unfaltering trust in a beneficent Heaven” and that it is his “articulate intention to discredit this kind of feudal mentality” (p. 163). But I insisted nevertheless that “almost in spite of himself, one feels that Mao Tun is celebrating in his tale the dignity of labor.” The youngest son, To-to-t’ou, of course, is his principal instrument for discrediting feudal mentality, but he plays only a minor role and he remains an artificial character. His undisguised superiority actually confirms our sympathy for his father and the other less enlightened members of his family. Their unremitting labor, of course, only brings them nearer ruin, but this failure, due to external causes beyond their control, does not deprive them of their impressive dignity.
Průšek is therefore positively wrong when he maintains, “In fact, Mao Tun describes with extreme irony and deprecation the superstition of the old peasant, T’ung-pao, who believed in the Bodhisattva; only his Bodhisattva was the god of wealth, ts’ai-shen.” Průšek has here confused “Spring Silkworms” with its sequel, “Autumn Harvest.” In that story, T’ung-pao is made into a pathetically ridiculous fool who acknowledges on his deathbed the Tightness of his young son’s expedient ways. To prepare for this change in characterization, early in the story (the third paragraph) Mao Tun gives us this piece of belated information that it has been the old man’s life long habit to repair to a shrine outside the village to worship the god of wealth. During the entire season of silkwormraising, not once is he seen worshipping at that shrine: he is too busy caring for the silkworms and cocoons. Moreover, in the earlier story, he is depicted as the soul of honesty and rectitude. He is so much of a stubborn and proud Chinese peasant that he hates anything foreign and refuses to yield to the counsels of expediency. He would raise Chinese silkworms and expect a smaller profit rather than raise the foreign kind. And one of the best scenes in the story registers his hatred toward a passing foreign-style steam boat:
A small oil-burning river boat came puffing up pompously from beyond the silk filature, tugging three larger craft in its wake. Immediately the peaceful water was agitated with waves rolling towards the banks on both sides of the canal . . . The peaceful green countryside was filled with the chugging of the boat engine and the stink of its exhaust. Hatred burned in Old Tung Pao’s eyes.30
The author appears here in complete sympathy with T’ung-pao’s point of view. But in “Autumn Harvest,” this sympathy has been completely withheld. Though the two stories, along with a third, “Winter Ruin,” are today commonly referred to as The Rural Trilogy, Průšek should not have been misled into thinking that the characterization of T’ung-pao in the first two stories is consistently the same.
Most of Průšel’s comments on Lao She, Yeh Shao-chün, and Yü Ta-fu are in the nature of supplementary or independent remarks having little to do with my text. Thus he discourses typically on the intentions and narrative techniques of these authors, with frequent digressions on the problem of subjectivism, of “the close interlinking of the work of art with the personal experiences, feelings and views of the author”—a problem with which Průšek has been much concerned in recent years. Some of these remarks betray his intolerance of non-Marxist ideas: thus Lao She is criticized because he “often does not understand these [social problems] very correctly.” The implication is that there is only one correct, scientific way to understand social problems, and Lao She is so much the poorer as a writer for his failure to follow it. Not to contradict his present high reputation in China, however, Průšek charitably adds that his concern with social problems is “of quite secondary importance,” though the truth is that all his best pre-war novels are vitally concerned with social problems.
In his comments on Yü Ta-fu, however, Průšek does make the specific complaint that I failed to include for discussion two of the author’s best stories: “A Humble Sacrifice” and “A Lonely Man on a Journey.” The latter, by the way, is not even a story: it is a confessional essay written in memory of his deceased young son Lung-erh, and belongs with the series of diaries, confessions, and thinly disguised fictions about his relationship with his disapproving mother, miserably neglected wife, and sickly son. In my chapter on Yü Ta-fu, I devoted some attention to this theme and referred to three specific titles: the diary “A Trip Home” and the two autobiographical stories, “Smoke Silhouettes” and “In the Cold Wind.” Since these three works are comparable to “A Lonely Man on a Journey” in emotional intensity and stem from the same domestic inspiration, I do not see any absolute reason why I must single out that confessional essay for special attention.
But judging from the fact that Průšek links this essay not with the other domestic pieces but with two stories with a proletarian setting, “A Humble Sacrifice” and “One Intoxicating Spring Evening,” it is obvious that he is not so much concerned with Yü Ta-fu’s obsession with remorse and guilt—his dominant emotions since his first story, “Sinking,” and they are especially poignantly rendered in his domestic pieces—as with the fact that in this naked account of his son’s death, the author is finally seen sharing the same kind of “human suffering” with his proletarian brothers and sisters. Yü Ta-fu’s reputation would be surely improved if we could ignore his decadence and regard him primarily as an humanitarian author preoccupied with “the whole terrible fate of the Chinese proletariat”! But unfortunately, even in his proletarian stories, Yü Ta-fu always regards himself as a bohemian. His camaraderie with tramps, coolies, and factory workers is largely an extension of his self-pity; there is nothing revolutionary about it. In “A Humble Sacrifice,” as in most of his stories, the author sees himself as a poor person; yet in terms of leisure and means, he lives in a completely different world from the ricksha man whom he befriends. Once he witnesses a quarrel over money between the ricksha man and his wife and he stealthily leaves them a silver watch of his. After a siege of illness that lasts two weeks, he visits them once again only to find a distraught family crying over the news of the ricksha man’s death. (He is accidentally drowned, but the widow entertains the doubt that he may have deliberately thrown himself into the water.) The author consoles her, buys for her a papier-maché ricksha, and later joins her and the two orphans in the funeral procession.
The author’s sympathy is unmistakable in the telling of the story, but still it is never quite separable from his commiseration over his own fate. At first, he even envies the ricksha man because, however poor, he at least enjoys his family and his night’s sleep, whereas he himself “hadn’t enjoyed a whole night’s sleep for two years”31 and has been away from his wife and son for so long. After the death of the ricksha man, the sight of the disconsolate widow and her younger son first of all “reminded me of my pitiful woman, of my Lung-erh, who would be now about the same height as the crying child crawling on the floor.”32 Even the final outburst of rage against the gaily dressed pedestrians in the street expresses as much indignation at their indifference to the plight of the ricksha man’s family as his habitual disgust with the respectable bourgeoisie. Despite the elaborate pathos at the end, the story is nevertheless in the author’s usual autobiographical-sentimental mode, so that it is misleading to say with Průšek that in this story “the author concentrates the whole terrible fate of the Chinese proletariat.”
Since Průšek cites this story to refute my charge that Yü Ta-fu’s style is “sentimental and careless,” I may quote a passage for detailed examination. The author is speaking of his poverty and bohemian life:
When bored to death, if I didn’t betake myself from the northwestern section of the city to the southern section, to mingle with my own kind of merry people at the theaters, teahouses, brothels, and restaurants, to forget my own existence and to learn from them how to forget both life and death in a drunken stupor, then I would go alone outside the P’ing-tse Gate to enjoy its local scenes. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel the compelling attraction of the serene quietness of the Jade Spring Mountain or the recessed calm of the Temple of the Great Awakening, but I a man in need of money three hundred fifty-nine days of the year, absolutely could not have the surplus cash to enjoy their sublime beauty.33
Well read in classical Chinese literature and foreign literature, Yü Ta-fu, of course, was never illiterate or ungrammatical as some writers of the May Fourth period were. Though his periods (as the first sentence in our specimen) are sometimes too complex and Europeanized to read well, and though he often uses Southern colloquial expressions and records them in characters of his own choice that may not prove readily intelligible to readers ignorant of the Wu dialect, his style appears on the whole candid, wordily eloquent and remarkably adapted to the requirements of autobiographical and psychological fiction. But if one examines the style closely, one finds that even his best stories are blemished by touches of sentimentality and compositional carelessness. To emphasize his self-pity and occasionally to suggest the effect of overwhelming sexual stimulation, Yü Ta-fu resorts to exaggeration, and this exaggeration would often bring about inconsistencies in the text resulting from one sentimental excess canceling out another. In the first sentence of our specimen, the author makes himself out to be a bohemian decadent bored with bourgeois life; so if he is not visiting the haunts of pleasure, he is strolling outside the city wall, enjoying his solitude. In the second sentence, he employs ironic exaggeration to indicate his actual distaste for the scenic resorts frequented by the middle class by saying that he cannot afford visiting these places of sublime beauty. Writing in a hurry, he does not realize that he would need a great deal more money to be a regular frequenter of brothels, theaters, and restaurants than to make occasional trips to the nearby resorts. To emphasize his poverty, moreover, he does not say that he is short of cash nine days out of ten; he has to invent the cumbersome locution that he is in need of cash 359 days out of a year. Depending thus upon whether he counts by the traditional Chinese or the modern calendar, he is not in want only one day or six days out of a year. Why he is suddenly not poor on that day or these six days we are not told. Of the early writers, Lu Hsün, Yeh Shao-chün, or Ping Hsin would never be capable of this type of careless exaggeration; only the members of the Creation Society, with their weakness for emotional display, could have committed such rhetorical excesses. The most brilliant and talented of the group, Yü Ta-fu is nevertheless also blameworthy in this respect.
In this section as in the earlier section on Lu Hsün, I have tried to re-examine those texts that, according to Průšek, I have misinterpreted or willfully ignored, thereby confirming in most instances my original judgments on these works and their authors. I cannot claim that I am naturally a better reader of these texts than Průšek: I would think it is precisely his dependence on a “scientific” theory of modern Chinese history and literature and his unvarying habit of judging every work by its supposed ideological intent that have frequently misled him into simplifying a text or misinterpreting its import whereas, with all my “subjectivity,” I have at least tried to do justice to every author and every work without having first to accommodate my honest reactions to a predetermined theory of modern Chinese fiction. The concrete examples gathered from the works of Lu Hsün, Mao Tun, and Yü Ta-fu are therefore intended to support my general criticism of Průšek’s principles and methods governing his study of modern Chinese literature. I am sure Průšek believes as strongly as I do that unlimited opportunity exists for Western scholars to make outstanding original contributions toward an understanding and assessment of this literature, though I wish he could also agree with me that this endeavor would seem to call for the exercise of the true critical or scientific spirit—a refusal to rest content with untested assumptions and conventional judgments and a willingness to conduct an open-minded inquiry, without fear of consequence and without political prepossessions.
Published in Toung Pao (1963), pp. 428-474.
1J. Průšek, “Basic Problems of the History of Modern Chinese Literature and C. Ί. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction,” T’oung Pao, XLIX, Nos. 4-5 (Leiden, 1961), pp. 357-404.
It may not seem improper to introduce a personal note here. During Professor Průšek’s visit to the United States in the spring of 1963, it was my good fortune to meet him and converse with him on many topics of traditional and modern Chinese literature. Needless to say, I was most impressed by his personal cordiality and his profound erudition. But since Professor Průšek had already submitted his article before making my acquaintance, necessity has forced upon me the unpleasant task of arguing with him in public. I trust he will find that throughout my article I have discussed only points of substance and refrained from unseemly polemics.
2See J. Průšek, “Lu Hsün the Revolutionary and the Artist,” Orientalistiscbt Literaturezeitung, Nos. 5-6 (1960), pp. 229-236.
3Průšek quite arbitrarily equates the literature of “disinterested moral exploration” with the kind of escapist literature fashionable in Taiwan, deplored by my brother in the appendix on Taiwan to my book, p. 511. Průšek also arbitrarily assumes that my brother has a much higher opinion of Lu Hsün than I by reference to his remark, “The early stories and essays (of Lu Hsün) seem to me to have spoken best for the conscience of China during a period of agonizing transition.” But nothing in my chapter on Lu Hsün contradicts this statement.
4Harry Levin, “Apogee and Aftermath of the Novel,” Daedalus (Spring, 1963), p. 216.
5René Wellek, Concepts of Criticism (New Haven, 1963), p. 15.
6W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., The Verbal Icon (New York, Noonday Paperbound Edition, 1960), p. 21.
7Ibid., P. 3.
8I have indicated my changed view of her importance in my recent article, “Residual Femininity: Women in Chinese Communist Fiction,”The China Quarterly (January-March 1963), pp. 175-176.
9Selected Works of Lu Hsün (Peking, Foreign Languages Press, 1956), Vol. I, p. 72.
10According to the story, Lu Hsün first met Jun-t’u when the latter was “a boy of eleven or twelve” and “that was thirty years ago”(Ibid., p. 65). Until the author’s visit home after an absence of “over twenty years”(Ibid., p. 63), they “never saw each other again”(Ibid., p. 68). It is therefore extremely odd to read later on that Jun-t’u’s fifth child strikes Lu Hsün as “just the Jun-t’u of twenty years before, only a little paler and thinner” (Ibid., p. 71). The phrase “twenty years before” should be corrected to read “thirty years before.” However, with their hagiographical attitude toward Lu Hsün, no scholars on the mainland have to my knowledge ventured to point out or correct this obvious mistake, even though many editions of Lu Hsün’s works have appeared in recent years.
11Ibid., p. 72.
12I have discussed Lu Hsün’s hopeful attitude toward the younger generation in A History of Modern Chinese Fiction, pp. 52-54. There I cited quotations from the story “The Solitary” and an open letter dated April io, 1928, included in San-hsien chi .
13Selected Works of Lu Hsün, Vol. 1, p. 6. I have slightly revised the translation.
14Ibid., p. 6.
15Selected Works of Lu Hsün, Vol. 3, p. 230.
16Lu Hsün, Nan-ch’iang pei-tiao chi (Hong Kong, 1958), p. 83.
17Chou Hsia-shou , Lu Hsün hsiao-shuo-li ti jen-wu (Shanghai, 1954), pp. 64-65.
18Ibid., pp. 14-15.
19Selected Works of Lu Hsün, Vol. 1, p. 165.
20Ibid., p. 169.
21Ibid., p. 158-159.
22Ibid., p. 156. This is a loose translation of a statement by Chang Tsai
23Lu Hsün, ed., Hsiao-shuo erh-cbi , Vol. 4 of Chao Chia-pi ed., Chung-kuo hsin-wen hsëh ta-hsi (Shanghai, 1935-36).
24Most of Lao She’s short stories strike me as disappointing. In Chapter 8 of Lao-niu if- (Shanghai, 1937), Lao She tells of the difficulties and frustrations he had encountered in writing short stories. The only group of stories he spoke of with some pride are the longer tales which are actually condensations of novels he had intended to write but didn’t have the time. Among these, “Yüeh-ya erh ,” because of its proletarian subject-matter, has received the highest praise in Communist criticism. But a complementary story in the same style about a rich girl, “Yang-kuang , “first collected in Ying-bai cbi (Shanghai, 1935), is decidedly much superior. Since both tales should be regarded as novelettes rather than short stories, the inescapable conclusion is that Lao She has little aptitude for the short story.
25Thus because I referred to Mao Tun’s “ornate literary vocabulary,” Průšek infers that I am incapable of discriminating between the several kinds of style in Mao Tun’s work. Actually I was referring to his vocabulary rather than to his style: the large number of words and phrases taken from classical literature that does give his novels and many of his short stories an “ornate” quality. Similarly, because I contrasted the “individualist” Lao She with the “romantic” Mao Tun in that transitional passage, Průšek believes that I have failed to see the considerable amount of romanticism in Lao She’s fiction. Actually, in Chapter 7 I refer to his romantic heroes—the “romantic Ma Wei” (p. 174) and Lao Li with “his romantic dream of a world with poetry and meaning” (p. 178)—and properly stress the strong note of individual heroism and chivalry in his work. Unfortunately, “romantic” being one of the most imprecise words in the English language, I applied it to Mao Tun primarily to suggest the erotic character of his fiction: hence the word is used in conjunction with two other adjectives, “sensuous” and “melancholic.” Lao She, of course, has as much right to that epithet if we intend it to denote the world of individualism, heroism and chivalry.
26Cf. Yeh Tzu-ming , Lun Mao Tun ssu-shih-nien ti wen-hsüeh tao-lu , 1959) and Shao Po-chou Мао Тun ti wen-hsüeh , 1959)
27Mao Tun wen-Cbi (Peking 1958), Vol. 7, p. 27.
28Ibid., p. 29.
29Ibid., p. 34.
30Mao Tun, Spring Silkworms and Other Stones (Peking, 1956), p. 13.
31Yü Ta-fu, Han-but Cbi (Shanghai, 1931): “Po tien” , p. 6. Each item in that volume has its own separate pagination.
32Ibid., Po-tien,” p. 17.
33Ibid., “Po-tien,” p. 8.