I. General Remarks
Being myself opposed, in principle, to carrying on a discussion in the spirit of dogmatic intolerance and disregard for human dignity, I must, insofar as these qualities are present in the book by C. T. Hsia,1 first make clear my standpoint in regard to them. Only then will it be possible to treat objectively of those parts of the book worthy of serious comment.
Admittedly it is only natural that the attitude and approach of every scholar or scientist is determined in part by subjective factors, such as his social standing, the time he lives in, and so on—in short, by those idola mentis of which Francis Bacon spoke many centuries ago. Still, all scientific endeavor would be vain, should the investigator not aim at discovering objective truth, at trying to overcome his personal bias and prejudices, but, on the contrary, make use of a scientific work to indulge in them. This requirement is all the more necessary if the book is designed for a wider circle of readers and deals with a subject on which the reader himself cannot form a judgment and, over and above, one he is likely to approach with a certain bias. The author’s responsibility is then all the greater. There can be no doubt that a book treating of modern and the most recent Chinese literature demands a quite exceptional measure of objectivity, as the majority of readers—not excluding professional sinologists—cannot correct the author’s judgments independently, as they do not possess a sufficient knowledge of the material under discussion, and certainly there is here a much greater danger of judgments being colored or even distorted by personal prejudice than if the author were to write of English, French or Russian literature.
The author of the book under review admits the need of making such demands, but only insofar as they apply to other authors than himself. Thus he censures Catholic authors of histories of modern Chinese literature for not complying with his postulate (p. 496): “Yet a literary history, to be meaningful, has to be an essay in discrimination and not a biased survey to satisfy extrinsic political or religious standards.” Unfortunately, as we shall show in a number of examples, C. T. Hsia’s work serves, for the most part, just the satisfying of extrinsic political standards.
It is sufficient to read the chapter headings, “Leftists and Independents,” “Communist Fiction I,” “Conformity, Defiance and Achievement,” and so on, to see at once that the criteria according to which C.T. Hsia evaluates and classifies authors are first and foremost of a political nature and not based on artistic considerations; in other words, he commits the same sin as that for which he condemns Catholic writers. Indeed, the author himself tells us that he is not so much interested in the literary aspect of the work as in the political standpoint it embodies. On p. 498, he declares: “In my survey of modern Chinese fiction, I have been principally guided by considerations of literary significance,” but immediately adds: “The writers towards 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 presents a different literary physiognomy from the tradition composed principally of leftist and Communist writers.”
And here we arrive at the second general requirement for a scientist and especially for an historian. I do not think a present-day historian, notably after the experience of the last War, can adopt the old slogan, Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner, but still we must demand of him normal human decency. And in this the author is very often lacking. We may differ in our opinion as to the correctness of the political views of the writer Ting Ling, we may easily differ in our estimate of her various works, but we cannot let pass without protest the way in which the author speaks of her life and character. It is repugnant to a degree that C. T. Hsia should use the most vulgar expressions in connection with this woman’s personal relations, while repeating nothing more than mere gossip.
It is immediately clear with what malicious spite C. T. Hsia speaks of Ting Ling and of left-wing writers in general. Thus, for instance, he brings in the name of Lu Hsün quite gratuitously in connection with the description of this scene from a short story by Ch’ien Chung-shu (p. 434): “The hero is a dunce, . . . he now lies helpless in bed, surrounded by a tearful throng of admirers. (One is reminded here of the homage the dying Lu Hsün receives; but the Writer seems more of a composite of Chiang Kuang-tz’u, Ts’ao Yü, and the early Pa Chin.)” This last sneer aimed at a group of the most deserving of Chinese writers is itself sufficient proof of a complete disregard for the limits set by good taste.
The intrepidity with which C. T. Hsia presents his judgments of various leftist writers contrasts strangely with the moderation bordering on positive laxness which he shows in connection with questions of partriotism. Not only does C. T. Hsia fail to give a just assessment of the heroism of these writers—and they comprised the great majority—who left their homes on the Chinese seaboard during the Japanese occupation and withdrew to the interior in order to help in their nation’s struggle; he tries, on the contrary, to make light of it. It is difficult to grasp how anybody knowing the heroic role of the Chinese writers during the War can write the following sentence (p. 275): “With this novel [Hsiao Chün’s Village in August], we are entering the extremely uncomfortable period of wartime patriotic propaganda,” and speak in derogatory terms of militant patriotic literature.
It would be a superfluous undertaking to show how unjust are the verdicts of the author in his evaluation of the work of Hsiao Chün and other patriotic writers. I should only like to point out one thing in this connection, namely, that C. T. Hsia says not a word about the immense influence of this work upon Chinese youth and the broad masses of the people, or the immeasurable service rendered by it in the patriotic struggle of the Chinese people, facts well brought out by E. Snow in the Foreword to the English translation of the above-mentioned book (T’ien Chün, Village in August, Introduction by E. Snow, London 1942).
The author, on the other hand, is remarkably tolerant in his judgment of acts of downright collaboration, such as the betrayal of Chou Tso-jen, whose contribution to the rise of a new literature is rated very high. C. T. Hsia characterizes his behavior during the war in the following words (p. 314): “Chou Tso-jen, too much in love with the culture of Peking to undertake the long trek to the interior, is content to remain as minister of education in the puppet government of North China.” Only later the fact is mentioned that after the War, Chou Tso-jen, like collaborators in all other countries, was sentenced to several years’ imprisonment. In the same connection, C. T. Hsia writes of another favorite author of his, whose work as an essayist and critic was closely bound up with the activities of Chou Tso-jen, namely, Lin Yutang: “Hu Shih and Lin Yutang are in America, the one as Ambassador to Washington and the other as a best-selling author purveying the charms of the old China and reporting on the heroism of the new” (ibid.). Not even in the case of Lin Yutang does it strike C. T. Hsia how great is the difference between the decision to lead a life full of hardship in the interior and a life of ease in the United States, from where—so far as I know—Lin Yutang returned only once for a short visit to China, whereupon he wrote a sharp pamphlet against the forces of resistance in the Liberated Areas. The same indulgence characterizes the author’s attitude to the majority of writers whose work is congenial to him: Ch’ien Chung-shu, Eileen Chang, Shih T’o and others. The impression we get is that, for C. T. Hsia, to remain and work in occupied territory was a kind of merit, whereas those who went to the interior to work and fight were deserving of condemnation.
This curiously perverted judgment does not only point to an individual lack of those feelings and sentiments which seem natural in the citizen of any country, but shows us at the same time that C. T. Hsia is incapable of justly evaluating the function and mission of literature in a given period, of correctly grasping and showing its historical role. C. T. Hsia may deny such a view as he will, but literature has a social function and the writer is responsible for his life and work to the community to which he belongs. I think it is chiefly owing to this failure to grasp the social significance of literature that the introductory chapter devoted to the Literary Revolution does not make a correct or adequate assessment of all that has taken place in Chinese literature since 1918.
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, actually seeing in these the general weakness of the new literature: “. . . the generally mediocre level of modern Chinese literature is surely due to its preoccupation with ideals, its distracting and over-insistent concern with mankind” (p. 499); this complaint is repeated again and again. At the same time he admits that it was perhaps inevitable, that it was the consequence of a certain objective reality. Instead of blaming Chinese writers for subordinating their literary work to social needs, it would have been more appropriate to show what the necessities were which induced them to take such a course, to give a picture of the historical situation which determined the character of modern Chinese literature.
C. T. Hsia, in his lack of comprehension for the social function of literature, goes so far as to censure even those Chinese theoreticians whose worth he fully acknowledges, for their excessive preoccupation with social factors. Thus he also reproaches Hu Shih, who he claims declared his allegiance to “humanitarian realism,” for his “narrow view of literature as an instrument of social criticism” (p. 9). Similarly he criticizes Chou Tso-jen and his demand for “a humane literature,” observing that “he was as much dedicated to the task of reforming Chinese society . . . as his fellow-intellectuals” and that “this reformist urge . . . accounts for the shallow character of the early romanticism,” adding that “it inevitably leads to a patriotic didacticism” (p. 21). It would be only logical if the author were to explain the reasons for this general attitude on the part of theoreticians and writers, not excluding rightists; in other words, were he to describe the social context of the literary revolution.
This, however, С. T. Hsia nowhere attempts to do, for it would immediately be apparent that the Marxist theoreticians were right in defining the period in which the new literature developed as a period of revolution aimed at the overthrow of the survivals of feudalism and against foreign imperialism. He would be forced to admit, too, that this struggle, in which the very existence of the Chinese nation was at stake, was waged with such fury that no writer could remain indifferent, nor had any writer either the time or the peace of mind to be able “to engage in disinterested moral exploration,” as recommended by С. T. Hsia.
Such an analysis of the social conditions under which the new Chinese literature arose and developed would have compelled С. T. Hsia, moreover, to admit that, in the struggle to abolish feudal survivals, the chief enemies of progress were certain social groups—landowners, usurers, speculators and the compradore bourgeoisie. He would have had to explain, too, that the Chinese bourgeoisie was not strong enough to lead the struggle for the overthrow of feudal survivals to a victorious conclusion, for which reason it could not fill the leading role in this revolutionary conflict, as did the European bourgeoisie in a similar situation, and that alone the revolutionary masses of workers and peasants, under the leadership of the Communist Party, could guarantee a victorious outcome to the struggle.
Further, an analysis of this kind would have provided him with the explanation why those writers or, more commonly, theoreticians, whose standpoint was that of the bourgeoisie and who were the disseminators of western bourgeois ideals in China, had no public following. Indeed, C. T. Hsia is himself obliged to confess (p. 23) that “the Anglo-American group found themselves, upon their return to China, already in a minority position, out of sympathy with the literary and ideological fashions firmly established by the Japanese-returned students.” Only, of course, what was decisive was not the victory of this or that group of returned students, but the question of how to solve the general situation in China, to which bourgeois literature had no answer.
Such a statement of fact would have made a serious literary historian see the necessity for investigating the root causes of such a situation and not let him be content with the facile explanation that it was all due to Communist propaganda. Why did the most serious and profound thinkers of New China go the road of Marxism? There must have existed certain objective reasons why Chinese intellectuals saw no other solution of conditions in China than a social and socialist revolution.
We must consider it no less a shortcoming, too, that C. T. Hsia nowhere deals with the question of the significance of the literary revolution in the context of Chinese literary history. For him, the literary revolution can be reduced to the introduction of pai-hua into literature, which, in his view must mainly be accredited to Hu Shih, who also, as he claims, drew attention to the old literary traditions in pai-hua. Further, Hu Shih, according to С. T. Hsia formulated a certain nexus of social-reformist themes, which, in the eyes of our author, was already a dangerous narrowing down of literature. Chou Tso-jen then, he affirms, crowned this work by setting the new literature the aim of becoming “Humane Literature.” Everything else was the work of radicals who were “downright irresponsible” (p. 9), who absolutely rejected the past, “would have no traffic with tradition,” because “they were deeply ashamed of China’s past” (p. 11), and so on.
C. T. Hsia passes over in silence the fact that Lu Hsün most certainly did more for spreading a knowledge of old literature than Нu Shih and that it was from the ranks of the leftist writers that the two greatest literary historians of New China came—Cheng Chen-to and A Ying (his real name being Ch’ien Hsing-ts’un ). There was a world of difference, however, between evaluating the old culture as a rich national heritage, which must be known and studied, and fighting, in the name of the old traditions, against new ideas and social advance.
Had С. T. Hsia posed the question as to what tasks faced the Chinese literary revolution, he would have ascertained that Ch’en Tuhsiu’s formulation of 1917 could not be discarded as “a piece of fustian interweaving literary ignorance with critical irresponsibility” (p. 4), and that, on the contrary, Ch’en Tu-hsiu grasped the problems of the literary struggle then going on much more penetratingly than Hu Shih, who, according to С. T. Hsia, “in the main counsels avoidance of stale sentiments and themes and of outworn diction” (p. 4).
From the fact that the main social and political content of this time was the anti-feudal revolution, it followed that also in literature and in culture in general the whole complex of feudal culture and its traditions had to be abolished, for without such a spiritual revolution it was not possible to realize a social revolution. It was necessary to abolish the whole feudal cultural complex, for it was the codification and the most redoubtable stronghold of the old social order. This codex was a petrification of the undemocratic social hierarchy and bound the individual by endless rules and regulations. The jettisoning of this complex was also an essential prerequisite for the further development of spiritual and intellectual life in China. China had to effect in the span of a few years the process of the emancipation of thought from the medieval view of the world, a process which in Europe lasted from the Renaissance and the Reformation up to the French Revolution. If the problem is posed in this way, we see that the radical Chinese thinkers, such as Ch’ien Hsüant’ung, Lu Hsün, Li Ta-chao and others, were entirely in the right.
How inadequate was what Hu Shih recommended as the content of a literary reform is immediately obvious if we confront the new literature with the literature existing in China up to the 1911 Revolution and, indeed, up to the May Fourth Movement, even if we select for such comparison the relatively most advanced genre—the satirical novel of about 1900. Certainly, the novels of Wu Wo-yao, Li Po-yüan and Tseng P’u cannot be criticized for expressing “stale sentiments and themes.” They are full of sincere indignation at the state of China, sharply attacking the old bureaucracy and containing likewise the social themes which Hu Shih recommends to new authors. As regards diction, it is not “outworn” in the sense in which С. T. Hsia uses the term, because he, following Hu Shih, judges the modernity of diction according to whether the author writes in pai-hua or in wen-yen, and, of course, these novels are written in pai-hua. And yet, these novels do not mark the beginning of a truly new phase in the development of Chinese literature, but are substantially a continuation of the old satirical-critical novel. The reason is that these authors, in spite of their critical attitude toward officials and sometimes toward the gentry as a class, still take their stand on the soil of traditional Confucian thought. They are, without exception, Confucians, who would try to graft certain European political concepts upon the old stock of traditional Confucianism. And so they are unable to enfranchise themselves from the old literary traditions and clichés, or to achieve a new vision of reality, with the result that they are also unable to find new forms of artistic expression. For the consummation of a revolution in Chinese literature, a completely new generation was necessary—one that had thrown off the shackles of the old way of thinking, rejecting Confucianism, taking its stand on new ideological positions and opening wide the door to all the achievements of modern world literature. The generation of Lu Hsün was the first to create a modern realistic literature in China. We can best measure the immense gulf between the old literature and the new if we contrast the passionate defense of Confucianism in the novel Lao Ts’an yu-chi by Liu О with the condemnation of Confucianism, as the morality of cannibals, in Lu Hsün’s short story “The Diary of a Madman,” two works separated in time by a mere twelve or thirteen years. The realization of a complete break with the old way of thinking and the old literature was the main content of the struggle then being waged in China, whence it follows that Ch’en Tu-hsiu was right in calling for “a plain, simple and expressive literature of the people” and for “a fresh and sincere literature of realism,” and not Hu Shih.
The main core of the struggle was not a question of establishing pai-hua and discarding wen-yen, for literature in wen-yen was dead even before the literary revolution, as admitted even by Hu Shih in his article, Chien-she-ti wen-hsüe ko-ming lun “Оn a Constructive Literary Revolution” (in Hu Shih wen-ts’un , Shanghai 1940, Vol. 1, pp. 77 et seq.). As we have already made clear, it was a matter of dislodging a whole complex of traditional culture, a part of which was not only literature written in wen-yen, but also old literature in pai-hua. This, too, was interlined with feudal habits of thought and its diction was outmoded. It was necessary to create an entirely new literary language, such as would meet all the exacting requirements of a new national literature.
A closer look at C. T. Hsia’s picture of the development of Chinese literature in this revolutionary period reveals that the author is not capable of placing the literary phenomena of which he treats in the proper historical perspective, of showing their connection with the preceding development, or eventually bringing them into relation with world literature. Instead of employing a truly literary scientific method, C. T. Hsia is content to adopt the procedures of a literary critic—and of a very subjective critic at that. And though he frequently makes comparisons between Chinese authors and certain European writers, they are of an accidental character and not the result of a systematic investigation of such connections. In the whole book, we do not come across a single example which would show that C. T. Hsia has seriously considered the links binding the authors of whom he treats with the past, although in the case of a writer who is such a vehement opponent of the radical revolutionaries for their presumed rejection of the heritage of the past, the question of what in this heritage was still alive and what could still be made use of in the creation of a new literature should occupy a foremost place. And undoubtedly, among a large number of modern writers, we should find such links to be surprisingly numerous.
A systematic investigation of the relations of the new Chinese writers to various European authors is equally lacking. C. T. Hsia occasionally mentions points of resemblance between characters in the works of Mao Tun and characters “in the naturalistic fiction of Zola, Norris and Dreiser” (p. 157); he speaks of Lao She’s predilection for English literature (p. 166), even noting that his novel Niu Tien-tz’u is modeled on Fielding’s Tom Jones (p. 180), and affirms that Camel Hsiangtz’u reveals a close emotional affinity with Hardy’s fiction, especially The Mayor of Casterbridge (p. 182). These, however, are nothing more than chance remarks, though a study of such affinities might have greatly assisted him in assessing the originality and maturity of the new literature.
This same lack of a systematic and scientific approach to the material explains why C. T. Hsia is unable to discover the relations between writers of this epoch and similarities in thier creative method, which would at least provide a basis for systematic grouping of writers. Such a procedure would certainly be preferable to a mechanical division, according to a writer’s formal membership of this or that literary or political group.
This deficiency in the work of C. T. Hsia is caused, at least in part, by the author’s inadequate knowledge and limited use of the existing special literature. His aim is to discover in the new Chinese literature another tradition than that pointed out by the Leftist Chinese critics and historians. He wishes, in fact, to make a reassessment of various writers. And that is undoubtedly his good right. But in order to do so, the author would need to give the views of other authors and critics, argue his own case and refute their opinions. His book is certainly large enough to give him ample scope for such a controversy. But the author rarely attempts anything of the kind. Of the European literature on the new Chinese literature he has a more thorough knowledge only of English and certain French works, which, however, he summarily rejects (these are the above-mentioned missionary works). But he is not acquainted with the literature in German—for instance, my comprehensive book on the literature of the Liberated Areas and a number of other studies and books, nor does he know any of the Russian literature, which includes a whole series of excellent monographs, such as those on Lu Hsün and other writers, as well as several comprehensive works. But, in general, he is not sufficiently familiar with Chinese pre-War literary criticism, of which van Boven, for example, made full use in his book. For a reassessment of the place occupied in pre-War literature by authors of the stature of Lu Hsün, Mao Tun, Ting Ling, Lao She, and others, an essential condition would be a confrontation with the criticism of that time, which presented, after all, a clearer picture of the general situation on the literary front.
An insufficient grasp and consideration of the basic social problems is apparent in all the general chapters of C. T. Hsia’s book. As a result, he reduces all conflicts and discussions which took place on the Chinese literary front to the level of personal quarrels and struggles between individual coteries. Singled out by him as a particularly black sheep, who instigated campaigns against various Chinese writers, is the present Deputy-Minister of Culture and the well-known literary critic and theoretician, Chou Yang.
Thus, for instance, every social historian would at once grasp that the quarrel which broke out shortly before the beginning of the war with Japan, as to whether the Leftist writers were to aim at the forming of a unified front of patriotic resistance in literature as well as in politics and cease hostilities against writers of a different political orientation, was far from being a mere “Battle of Slogans” and “a silly quarrel in itself” (p. 299), as C. T. Hsia affirms, but one of the most serious questions of Chinese politics at that time. It was this very struggle for the creation of a unified, all-national front, which the Chinese Communist Party carried through to a successful conclusion, even despite opposition from its own ranks, which is positive proof of how honestly the Communist Party put the interests of the whole nation first. On the other hand, it is an insinuation to attribute, as does C. T. Hsia, Lu Hsün’s initially negative attitude to Party policy as due to personal vanity. The events of 1927 had shown Lu Hsün that it was difficult to trust the Kuomintang and right-wing elements and so he opposed what might seem to be a kind of capitulation. It is also probable that Lu Hsün was angered by attacks on his friends, for there can be no doubt that, among his opponents, there were frequent manifestations of petty bourgeois radicalism and dogmatism.
A completely distorted picture is given by C. T. Hsia of the ideological problems in the Liberated Areas during the War and of Mao Tse-tung’s views, especially his “Talks at the Yenan Literary Conference” in 1942. 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. Without a new and truly popular literature and art, such as would provide the people with entertainment and instruction, it was not possible to hold out through a protracted and terribly destructive war, to create new and deeply democratic forms of political life and to effect what can justly be called a cultural revolution in territories which till then had been the most backward in the whole of China.
Perhaps nowhere else and at no other time have the creative powers of the people been stimulated into growth on such a scale and produced such valuable fruit as in the Liberated Areas. Despite all C. T. Hsia’s attempts to belittle its significance, 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. These things have been so often described by non-Communist visitors that it is unnecessary to speak of them here. All this could not have been achieved, however, without the energetic mobilization of all cultural workers, as is clear if we compare the development in the Liberated Areas with the part of China held by the Kuomintang.
2. Confrontation of Methods
After these general considerations let us take a closer look at the picture which C. T. Hsia gives of individual Chinese authors or groups of authors. In addition to occasional allusions to other authors, C. T. Hsia treats the following writers in greater detail: Lu Hsün, Yeh Shao-chün, Ping Hsin, Ling Shu-hua, Lo Hua-sheng, Yü Ta-fu, Mao Tun, Lao She, Shen Ts’ung-wen, Chang T’ien-i, Pa Chin, Chiang Kuang-tz’u, Ting Ling, Hsiao Chün, Wu Tsu-hsiang, Eileen Chang, Ch’ien Chung-shu, Chao Shu-li, besides several general chapters.
The first thing that strikes us in the disproportion in the space allotted to these authors: The largest number of pages, 43, is devoted to the woman writer Eileen Chang, whereas Lu Hsün is covered in 27 pages, Mao Tun in 25 and 10, Lao She in 24 and 10. The whole literature in the Liberated Areas and the whole post-War Chinese literature is disposed of in 28 pages, as compared with 29 pages devoted to a single novel by Ch’ien Chung-shu. These figures alone show a lack of balance in C. T. Hsia’s work, and demonstrate that the author—as I pointed out above—was unable to approach his work with a proper measure of objectivity.
Still more are we amazed at the disparity of the judgments which the author pronounces: of left-wing writers he speaks with ridicule or at least very reservedly, whereas he does not stint in superlatives for anti-Communist writers or those who do not sympathize with the Leftist movement.
I think that the main shortcoming of the work lies in C. T. Hsia’s inability accurately to characterize and differentiate the work of the various writers, and to bring out their main features. He has more to say about their persons and personal views than about their creative personality and artistic individuality. In treating of the works of writers, he confines himself, as a rule, in addition to a brief précis of the contents, to a few subjective remarks and judgments, without attempting to build up any systematic picture of their creative individuality. On the basis of his descriptions, we should find it difficult to see where lie the differences between the work of, say, Lu Hsün, Mao Tun, Chang T’ien-i or Lao She.
In order to illustrate the author’s method, let us reproduce here, in detail, his description of the work of Lu Hsün.
Hsia stresses, in the first place, the importance of Lu Hsün’s birthplace as his chief source of inspiration, noting that the three stories, “My Native Place,” ‘Benediction” and “In the Restaurant” are directly connected with a visit to his native town, and he seeks their genesis in the curious state of mind it engendered which, he affirms, is reminiscent of Joyce in his Dubliners.
Then he analyzes the story “The Diary of a Madman,” characterizes its underlying intention, gives its contents and adds a few words of criticism. He deprecates the fact that, as he says, the author has not been able “to provide a realistic plot for the madman’s fantasies” and, further, that “he fails to present his case in dramatic terms” (p. 33). Hsia notes that the title and form of the story “are indebted to a story by Gogol,” and praises “a remarkable technical virtuosity as well as a good deal of irony.”
The short story “K’ung I-chi” is described as “Lu Hsün’s first story in the lyrical mode: a touching if sketchy portrait of a marginal member of the literati who has turned thief” (p. 33). He adds that the story “is told by the boy” and that it has “an economy and restraint characteristic of some of Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories” (p. 34).
Though Lu Hsün himself liked best the story “K’ung I-chi,” C. T. Hsia evaluates more highly the tale entitled “Medicine,” of which he says that it is “a much more ambitious performance than either of its predecessors.”
Hsia expresses the thought that “Lu Hsün has attempted in the story a complex structure of meanings.” He draws attention to the names of the two young men, Hua and Hsia , and affirms that they “represent the hopeful and doomed mode of Chinese existence” (p. 34). He then elaborates this thought and stresses that the death of the revolutionary “indicates Lu Hsün’s gloomy view of the revolutionary cause in China” (p. 35). In the same sense he also interprets the closing scene, where the mother calls to her son lying in his grave to give her a sign that he hears her, through a crow sitting on a nearby tree.
As regards the story “My Native Place” Hsia only speaks of the scene in which Lu Hsün meets a friend of his youth, Jun-t’u, now a farmer getting on in years, in Hsia’s words, “a weather-beaten man burdened with family care” (p. 36. — Note this description, we shall come back to it later). Hsia then comments only on the closing passage, in which Lu Hsün poses the question as to “what was this so-called hope of mine, if not also an idol fashioned by my own hands?” (p. 36). Hsia comments: “In this passage Lu Hsün reveals a strain of honesty characteristic of his best stories. Much as he wishes to change the social order, he also recognizes the naiveté of refashioning reality in order to satisfy his didactic impulse.”
In his judgment of “The True Story of Ah Q,” the author allows that it is “the only modern Chinese story to have attained an international reputation,” but hastens to add that “as a work of art it has surely been overpraised: it is mechanical in structure and facetious in tone” (p. 37). In addition to embodying the national failings, he considers Ah Q to represent “the crude awakening to the need for better justice with which modern Chinese literature has been vitally concerned” (p. 38).
Of Lu Hsün’s second volume of short stories, published under the title, P’ang-huang, for which Hsia gives the equivalent “Hesitation,” he says that it is, “on the whole, a finer volume” than “The Outcry,” but that “it has received less lavish praise because of its dominant mood of despondency” (p. 38). Hsia then, on the contrary, values in this collection “the subdued presence of such personal passions as anger and sorrow” (ib.), and ranks the four tales from the volume “Benediction” (better known under the title “The New Year’s Sacrifice”), “In the Restaurant,” “Soap” and “Divorce” “among the most profound studies of Chinese society in fiction” (p. 39).
“The New Year’s Sacrifice” is, according to Hsia, “the tragic tale of Hsiang-lin Sao, a peasant woman hounded to death by feudalism and superstition. Unlike most writers, however, Lu Hsün is not content merely to illustrate the horrors of the two traditional evils; he defines, first of all, the life of the heroine in the actuality of her ethos, which prescribes conduct and a world view as explicitly as any religion or philosophy of greater sophistication. The primitive peasant society to which she belongs, therefore, emerges from the story no less strangely and terrifyingly credible than the heroic society of Greek tragedy. Instead of being derogatory terms in the arsenal of anti-traditional propaganda, ‘feudalism’ and ‘superstition’ take on here ‘flesh and body’ ” (p. 39). Hsia also makes some mention of the religious world of the heroine and adds that “personal touches,” that is, the author’s personal participation in the tragic development of the story, “add a lyrical warmth to the otherwise stark tragedy of feudal existence” (p. 40).
Speaking of the hero of the story “In the Restaurant,” the author states that “it was . . . Lu Hsün’s explicit intention to depict his friend as a wreck of a man who has lost his nerve and compromised with the old society” (p. 41). Hsia, however, affirms that the lesson of the story is, in effect, very different: “Yet as actually realized in the story, the kindness and piety of Lü Wei-fu . . . also demonstrate 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. For Lu Hsün, ‘In the Restaurant’ is a lyrical confession of his own uncertainty and hesitation” (p. 41).
Highest, in C. T. Hsia’s estimation of Lu Hsün’s short stories, stands the tale “Soap.” In his view, it is “a brilliant satire which dispenses completely with nostalgia and doubt; it is also Lu Hsün’s only successful story whose setting is Peking rather than Shao-hsing” (p. 42). In this story he also sees an underlying symbolism—“the beggar girl, in her dirty rags, as well as in her imagined state of freshly scrubbed nudity, stands at once for the shabby Confucianism which Ssu-ming ostensibly upholds and for the libidinous day-dream to which he actually yields” (p. 44).
The story “Divorce” is also positively assessed by our author. Its artistic success he attributes to the fact that “by dramatically presenting the quarrel and refraining from taking sides, Lu Hsün reveals the feudal system in all its moral turpitude” (p. 45).
The nine stories referred to above are considered by C. T. Hsia to be the best products of the first phase of the new Chinese prose. But to this weighing-up he adds various riders: “Though mainly descriptive of village and small-town life in a period of transition, they possess enough power and variety to command the interest of posterity. But even during this period of happy creativity, 1918-1926, Lu Hsün’s taste is none too sure (stories like ‘A Little Incident,’ ‘The Story of Hair,’ ‘The Happy Family,’ ‘The Solitary’ and ‘Remorse’ show him very much at the mercy of a sentimental didacticism), and his incapacity to draw creative sustenance from other experiences than those rooted in his native town also indicates a real limiation” (p. 45).
C. T. Hsia still finds words of general praise for the book of prose poetry “Wild Grass” and for the volume of youthful reminiscences “Morning Flowers Picked in the Evening.” Crushing, however, is the verdict he passes on the collection “Old Legends Retold,” which, as he puts it, “combines topical satire with malicious caricature of ancient Chinese sages and mythological heroes. . . . 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. The resulting levity and chaos in ‘Old Legends Retold’ mark the sad degeneration of a distinguished if narrow talent for fiction” (p. 46).
Here we have reproduced nearly all that C. T. Hsia has to say about Lu Hsün’s work, excluding only the contents. I think that this survey of the author’s critical comments sufficiently confirms what I said above, namely, that C. T. Hsia is not able to give a systematic analysis of an author’s work, that he is content to limit himself to purely subjective observations and that he misinterprets or, at best, obscures the true significance of Lu Hsün’s literary production.
Let us now essay to show how very differently appears the general character of Lu Hsün’s work and those of its features discussed by C. T. Hsia, and how different a picture and evaluation of his work we reach if we do not limit ourselves to accidentals, but submit his oeuvre to systematic analysis, seeing in its individual traits not isolated and chance singularities, but the components of a unified artistic whole, welded by the author’s artistic personality. The order of importance of these individual elements is determined by the artist’s intention, just as is the way in which he binds and makes use of all these elements for the realization of his creative conception. This intention—and also the artistic procedures employed for the realization of his conception—reflects the author’s philosophical outlook, that is, his attitude toward the world, toward life and toward the society in which he lives, and then too, his relation with established artistic traditions, and so on. The special nature of all these attitudes is then determined by the author’s ideological and artistic individuality; we see him as a member of a given human society and, at the same time, as an artist of specific qualities.
We shall begin our analysis of Lu Hsün’s work with a question of basic importance, namely, whether this work shows evidence of a split in the author’s attitude toward Chinese reality, such as C. T. Hsia repeatedly suggests. 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 us believe, went so far as to destroy, in the long run, his creative powers, for, after 1929, “he could no longer,” as C. T. Hsia affirms, “summon the kind of honesty requisite for the writing of his best stories without also dragging to light the extreme superficiality of his new political allegiance” (p. 45). It is therefore necessary to establish whether there exists some tangible ideological difference between these best stories—in C. T. Hsia’s estimate—and the works from the end of his life.
C. T. Hsia facilitates his argumentation by laying stress on certain things and suppressing or remaining silent on others, or by attributing a significance to them which they do not possess. Thus, at the very first, as we noted above, he compares Lu Hsün with Joyce and sees in his work a contradiction in the fact that, as it seems to him, “Lu Hsün repudiates his home town and, symbolically, the old Chinese way of life,” and yet, on the other hand, “this town and these people remain the stuff and substance of his creation” (p. 32). That sounds very convincing, but this general formulation obscures the whole essence of Lu Hsün’s work, for it says nothing of whom and what Lu Hsün rejected in Chinese life and why he chose, again and again, his native town as the theme of his stories. C. T. Hsia speaks in general terms of Lu Hsün’s abhorrence of “the sloth, superstition, cruelty and hypocrisy of the rural and town people ’ (my italics—J.P.). The impression thus evoked is that Lu Hsün—like moralists in China for some thousands of years—struck out at common social evils, the fact being completely concealed that the aim and purpose of Lu Hsün’s oeuvre was—as we shall show later—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. Later on C. T. Hsia is not content with such general statements, but formulates the thesis to which attention was paid above, namely, that Lu Hsün “must have been nostalgically attracted” to “the traditional mode of life, despite his intellectual conviction.”
It is true that Lu Hsün could never throw off the memories of the past and that they were an important source of his creative inspiration, only in quite the opposite sense from that in which Hsia interprets it. In the preface to the volume Na-han, “Battle Cries,” Lu Hsün expresses himself perfectly clearly: “I suffer, on the contrary, from not being able to forget everything, and part of what my mind is unable to get rid of, became the source on which I drew for my tales entitled ‘Battle Cries.’ ” From this it is quite clear that for creative sustenance Lu Hsün drew not on a love for the “traditional mode of life,” but on experiences so painful that he was unable to throw off their memory during his whole life. This persistence of memories is therefore the reason why he keeps returning to his native place for material for his writings.
Insofar then as Lu Hsün suffered from doubts and hesitations, it was not because he loved the old way of life, but because for long he was not certain whether China possessed the forces capable of destroying it. Of this, too, he writes in the preface to “Battle Cries.” It was not till 1928 that he overcame his doubts.
But let us turn now to an analysis of the work, beginning with his aim and purpose, in order to answer the question formulated above.
Lu Hsün himself defines it in the well-known article, “How I Came to Write Stories,” cited in all works relating to Lu Hsün. There he says: “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.”2
I think that this quite unambiguously expresses Lu Hsün’s ideological standpoint, which is altogether different from that imputed to him by C. T. Hsia. Lu Hsün has no sympathy for the society around him; he feels that it is a diseased society in need of cure and his work was aimed to help that cure.3 It was this conviction that determined not only the orientation of his oeuvre, but also his artistic processes, all that gives his best work its specific and inimitable quality. La Hsün does not wish to describe some individual instance or fate, he wishes to depict a typical manifestation, and so he chooses themes on which he can demonstrate some general reality, some specific “disease.” In order to realize his intention, he also creates completely new artistic methods, unknown hitherto in Chinese literature, so that Lu Hsün appears here as a bold and original artistic innovator. Very often it is the pushing of the actual story into the background, so that it forms only the backcloth against which the “disease” to which he wishes to direct his reader’s attention comes out all the more starkly. I pointed out a number of examples illustrating this method in my study, “’Quelques remarques sur la nouvelle littérature chinoise,” to be published in the Mélanges de l’Institut des Hautes Etudes chinoises in Paris, and so it is unnecessary to repeat my conclusions here. I noted there, too, analogies with certain procedures of the European literary avant-garde, while stressing the very different motives which led to their employment.
As regards the stories dealt with by C. T. Hsia, examples of this method are “K’ung I-chi” and “Medicine.” The aim of the firstmentioned, “K’ung I-chi,” is not to give “a touching if sketchy” portrait of a member of the literati who has come down in the world, but to bring home to the reader the unfeeling cruelty of people who make fun of a poor human being and even laugh at him as he crawls through the mud of the streets on his broken stumps. Similarly, “Medicine” portrays a society for whom the blood of a revolutionary is only a physic for a consumptive darling son and which enthusiastically sanctions the torture and killing of a fellow-creature whose crime was that he wished to liberate them. The story of the revolutionary remains permanently in the background—we can piece it together only from disconnected remarks by visitors to a tearoom. This reduction of the subject is likewise a logical necessity in the story “The Diary of a Madman,” if the tale was to become an indictment of Chinese society and not the portrayal of an individual case of madness. Herein lies also the basic difference between Lu Hsün’s and Gogol’s treatment, as has already repeatedly been pointed out by J. D. Chinnery, B. Krebsová and V. F. Sorokin. Thus Lu Hsün had no wish or intention “to provide a realistic plot for the madman’s fantasies,” or “to present his case in dramatic terms,” for in doing so he would have given his story quite a different significance. From among all the possible manifestations of the man’s madness, Lu Hsün limits himself to those best fitted to serve for the realization of his intention: he fixes on the birth of the madman’s suspicion that the people among whom he lives wish to devour him; this suspicion then gradually passes over into the idea of the generally cannibalistic character of Chinese society. Lu Hsün, with the art of true genius, succeeds in giving the individual features of a specific phenomenon the stamp of universal validity, thereby creating a general picture expressing a universal truth. At the same time, however, Lu Hsün retains in his picture all the concreteness and realism of an individual portrait painted from life.
Lu Hsün’s gift of creating general pictures summarizing the typical traits of whole social groups or even of a whole nation is excellently demonstrated in “The True Story of Ah Q,” where Ah Q represents the whole nation, a certain social group and a specific individual, all in one person. Besides, the actual story of Ah Q is often no more than the canvas on which Lu Hsün depicts and exposes the character and behavior of the Chinese gentry.
The greatness and innovatory quality of Lu Hsün’s art comes out very clearly if we compare his work with that of the social-critical literature which preceded it, i.e., with those satirical novels of the beginning of the twentieth century, whose authors were content with descriptions of individual phenomena, with isolated stories and sketches taken from reality, or with incidents of an anecdotal character. It remained for Lu Hsün to merge in a single whole, to embody in a single picture, the boundless multiplicity of living experience and, at the same time, to give a moral evaluation from the point of view of the progressive concepts of his day.
In these stories, a characteristic trait of Lu Hsün’s art is already present which he fully develops in several of his poems in prose and especially in “Old Legends Retold.” His pictures have, namely, 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 this many-faceted iridescence lie the individuality and originality of Lu Hsün’s artistic technique, which C. T. Hsia is unable to grasp and which is the reason for his condemnation of “Old Legends Retold.”
In order to give his pictures general validity and, at the same time, evoke a maximum emotional reaction in the reader—for his aim was to rouse his conscience and induce him to take up the cudgels against the social disease they described—Lu Hsün had to delete from his pictures all that was of secondary importance, all details which would distract the attention from the main thing he wished to express. This is the reason for what Hsia characterizes in the story “K’ung I-chi” as “a sketchy portrait.” If we keep in mind the aim of Lu Hsün’s art, namely, to show the insensate cruelty of society, it is not difficult to see that a more detailed portrait of the principal hero or an account of his life would rather have weakened the effect of the story than strengthened it. And here I think we are at the root of Lu Hsün’s special method which, in a large number of stories, departs from the method predominating in the realistic literature of nineteenth-century Europe. There the initiator and organizer of the story is an indeterminate “author’s ego,” all-present and all-knowing, able to present every detail of the action and of the setting and every thought and emotion of the characters concerned. With Lu Hsün, the narrator is often a definite person, either the author himself, as in the case of “New Year’s Sacrifice” and some others, or some other specific person: the boy from the wine-tavern in “K’ung I-chi,” the widower in “Remorse,” and so on. The choice of a definite person as the narrator, who naturally knows only certain facts, enables the author to select from the multitude of individual phenomena at his disposal only a limited number—and those which are most characteristic of the manifestation he wishes to describe and, at the same time, most heavily charged with emotion.
Here, too, I see the main link between Lu Hsün’s art and the Chinese artistic tradition, above all, with Chinese painting and poetry, where it is never the artist’s intention to seize the whole of reality within the selected limits, but only to bring into prominence several characteristic and significant details, possessing a high emotive potential.
The emotional effect is then intensified by a certain atmosphere of mystery, which is the consequence of this special mode of narration. We learn only isolated facts; K’ung I-chi, for instance, is introduced to us crawling through the mud on his stumps, or we hear that the revolutionary has been maltreated by a brutal executioner, but we are obliged to fill in all the details of their sufferings for ourselves, which stimulates our imagination and makes us part-authors of the story.
This method of presentation is connected with and motivated by the consciously designed relegation of the main story to the background. It is interesting that even in those stories which are not presented as being told by a specific narrator, the same method is used, which shows how strong an attraction this compositional procedure had for Lu-Hsün. Thus the scene of the unsuccessful candidate’s madness in “White Glow” is presented as if we were witnesses of it; that is, Lu Hsün employs here the descriptive method usual in the realistic works of the nineteenth century, as we pointed out above. But no sooner does the teacher leave his dwelling than the perspective changes. At the gate, we only hear (perhaps) his faint voice and then we only learn from hearsay that a corpse has been found floating naked on the waters of the lake, which is rumored to be that of the crazy candidate. His end is surrounded by mystery (suicide? murder? or mischance?), which heightens the tragedy of the whole incident and sharply illuminates the dull indifference of the milieu to a human fate: people are too lazy even to go and identify the corpse.
This method is applied with superlative effectiveness in the prose piece “New Year’s Sacrifice,” where the author presents the harrowing tragedy of the woman, Hsiang-lin, in the form of a short narration reconstructed from personal recollections and from what he had heard about her. We learn about the heroine only from what others have to tell of her and only twice do we make direct contact with her. The circumstance that we hear only indirectly how Hsiang-lin moves from one tragic event to another, without being able to follow her feelings and actions, imbues the whole description with a terrifying fatality and cruelty—the impression arises of the absolute helplessness of a human being dragged to destruction by obscure forces. Her life is reduced to several tragic episodes. Hsia is right when he says that the story reminds one of Greek tragedy, except that Lu Hsün clearly shows what forces hounded Hsiang-lin to her death, thus giving fate a very concrete human embodiment. So as to move the reader from the very start, he employs a device which is repeated in a number of his stories: he confronts the reader with the culmination of the tragedy. Hsiang-lin questions the author about an existence beyond the grave, and then, on a freezing New Year’s night, she dies as a beggar, probably of hunger and exposure.
The strength of this story lies in the way Lu Hsün, within the limits of a quite short story, is able to express the terrible mode of existence of a Chinese woman in the old society: Hsiang-lin is not a chance, tragic instance, but a type, both in her human qualities and in her fate.
It was necessary to analyze the artistic method employed by Lu Hsün in order to show what an error of judgment is made by Hsia in ranking the collection of short stories P’ang-huang higher than that published under the title Na-han. It must be said, in all fairness, that in several stories Lu Hsün succeeds in giving admirable pictures of Chinese society, bringing out with remarkable plasticity its basic features, and kindling the conscience of the reader, whereas other stories, in spite of their technical perfection, do not differ greatly in character from the stories of his contemporaries. They lack that specific something which makes Lu Hsün Lu Hsün, namely, the art of sketching in a few telling strokes an unforgettable picture, summing up in an artistic shorthand some fundamental feature of Chinese society.
Among the stories which have not this specific quality is “Soap,” so highly praised by C. T. Hsia. The story, depicting the hypocrisy of a member of the intelligentsia who had earlier made some pretence of being a progressive, is written in the normal descriptive method, without any sub-text, picturing an evening in his life. Certainly, the character-study of the man and the portrayal of his domestic milieu is extremely well done, and here Lu Hsün’s irony is brilliantly effective, but it remains, after all, a story that is essentially anecdotal in character, without any of the generalizing power of the stories we have discussed above.
On the basis of this comparison 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.
We must completely reject the allegorical interpretation which Hsia seeks to work out in connection with this and other stories. Lu Hsün was able, as I showed above, to give his pictures multiple significance by relating them to various layers of phenomena, but for that very reason mere primitive allegory was utterly alien to his nature; as a deeply erudite student of Chinese literature, he knew very well to what senseless toying with words and meanings the allegorical interpretation of the old novels was all too prone to lead, as in the case of the novel Hung-lou meng. And so we must completely reject an allegorical explanation of “Medicine.” Insofar as the names of the two young men, Hsia and Hua, have any underlying significance, they simply underline the fact expressed in the tale, that brother literally eats brother—another expression of the idea of the cannibalistic character of the old society.
It is, however, typical that Hsia devotes so much space to these unfounded speculations, instead of trying clearly to formulate the question as to the meaning and purpose of Lu Hsün’s creative production, and why he used such specific artistic means for the realization of his aims, as shown above. Here it is evidently not a matter of mere inability to grasp the character of Lu Hsün’s oeuvre and to carry out a scientific analysis. Hsia, it is clear, consciously tries to obscure and even to distort the true significance of Lu Hsün’s work, disregarding the facts and resorting to what are purely speculative interpretations. One of his theses is that Lu Hsün did not believe in the Revolution and he interprets in this sense the conclusion of the story “Medicine,” although the text itself offers not the smallest grounds for it. Lu Hsün himself says in the Introduction to the collection Na-han that the flowers which the mother found on her son’s grave were put into the story so that it might not end on too pessimistic a note. Earlier he speaks of his wish that, by means of this collection, he might “encourage those fighters who are galloping in loneliness so that they do not lose heart.” That sounds very different from Hsia’s interpretation (“symbolic questioning over the meaning and future of the revolution”). But Hsia is not content with allegorical constructions having no foundation in the text, but actually distorts the sense of the text. We quoted above his comment on the end of the story “My Native Place,” in which he commends Lu Hsün’s honesty, because, as he says, “he recognizes the naiveté of refashioning reality in order to satisfy his didactic impulse.” The actual quotation as given by Hsia (p. 36) would, on the face of it, justify such an interpretation. Only, in Lu Hsün’s text there follows a passage which shows that Lu Hsün wished to say the very opposite of what C. T. Hsia imputes to him. Lu Hsün, namely, ends the story with what is a reply to this mood of hopelessness: “I thought: hope cannot be said to exist nor can it be said not to exist. It is just like roads across the earth. For actually the earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men pass one way, a road is made.” What can one say to such a distortion of a work on the part of a literary historian?
Only here still more is at stake. Indeed, it is a matter of the whole meaning of Lu Hsün’s lifework. We have tried to show in our analysis that Lu Hsün’s aim was “to expose the disease . . . so that it might be cured.” It is evident that we can only cure a disease by removing the cause. And Lu Hsün was able not only to floodlight the terrible aspects of the Chinese disease, but also to point to those who were the cause of it. And this fact C. T. Hsia would carefully cover up, for then his whole interpretation of Lu Hsün’s ideological and artistic development would fall to pieces. Up to 1928 Lu Hsün had still various doubts and fits of pessimism, but it never meant that he was reconciled for a moment to the existing order, or that he was ready to fold his hands in his lap. He had fought from his youth, as is irrefutably testified to by his essays, and this comes out very strikingly in the tendency of his short stories.
Let us now examine the stories from this point of view and seek an answer to the question as to whom Lu Hsün attributed the evil he saw in Chinese society. Let us go back, first of all, to the story “New Year’s Sacrifice.” Who bears the chief responsibility for the heroine’s tragedy and death? C. T. Hsia speaks in general terms of feudalism and superstition, which (he affirms) hounded the heroine to death, but the subsequent stylization gives the reader the impression that the tragedy takes place in a purely peasant milieu and that implicitly this milieu is responsible for the heroine’s death. Not a word does C. T. Hsia say about the main culprit of Hsiang-lin’s sufferings, the one 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—that was no “primitive present society,” but the family of one of the gentry, the conservative upholder of Confucian morality, the honorable Mr. Lu.
In this tale especially Lu Hsün shows, in exemplary fashion, that the inhuman morality which can drive an innocent woman to madness and death is exclusively a product of the gentry and is then taken over from them by the other classes of society. Lu Hsün is, however, absolutely objective, and so he also shows the unfeeling brutality of the peasant milieu which out of greed treats the unhappy widow like a piece of cattle, kidnapping her and marrying her against her will, but with unrelenting sharpness he turns the edge of his satire against the representative of the gentry. This is true of practically all Lu Hsün’s stories, as an analysis would easily show.
As a small example of how the need for a unifying idea and purpose influenced the whole of Lu Hsün’s work, I may mention here an episode from “My Native Place,” the close of which Hsia misconstrued as I have shown above. But it is not only a question of what Lu Hsün says in his conclusion; important is the whole manner of composition of the story. Lu Hsün’s contemporaries stress the fact that there was no “Beancurd Beauty” in the vicinity of the author’s dwelling. Why then did Lu Hsün create such a caricature of a figure and introduce it into a story based for the most part on actual recollections? An analysis of the story shows very clearly that Lu Hsün made use of that gossiping busybody, the grasping shopkeeper, so that by contrast the simple honesty of the farmer-friend of his youth might come out all the more strongly. It is obviously not possible to speak generally of Lu Hsün’s abhorrence of the vices of “rural and town people,” as does Hsia in the above-cited comment, for Lu Hsün differentiates very sharply between the various classes. It must be noted, too, that in his story Lu Hsün enumerates very precisely all the evils which had made a complete wreck of his friend—oppressive taxes, soldiery, children, Government offices, usurers, and not only “family care,” as Hsia euphemistically puts it.
If, however, we keep in mind the clear orientation of Lu Hsün on the evils corroding China and his unrelenting fight against the gentry and the bourgeoisie, we must absolutely reject C. T. Hsia’s basic thesis to which we drew attention above. According to this, the creative source for Lu Hsün’s work lay in the contradiction between his rational repudiation of the old society and, on the other hand, the strong emotional attraction it had for him. We therefore also reject C. T. Hsia’s conclusion, viz. that, in the question of the revolution, his attitude was vacillating. There can be no doubt that Lu Hsün, as a great humanist, had compassion for “the poor and despised” in the old society, of whom he wished to tell in his work, as he says in the above-mentioned quotation, but, at the same time, from his early youth, he stood irreconcilably opposed to the class he held to be the source of all China’s misery, namely, the gentry. Here lies the key to his fundamental revolutionary attitude, which finally made of a petty bourgeois, revolutionarily inclined intellectual, a follower of Marxism. Nor is there ideologically the slightest contradiction between the early stories of Lu Hsün and his works written after 1929. On the contrary, a certain weakening is observable only in certain of the stories included in the collection P’ang-huang, which Hsia ranks highest; these stories have less of the fighting quality and also show less artistic individuality. In these the elsewhere firm hand of Lu Hsün trembled.
It is necessary to repudiate entirely all that C. T. Hsia has to say about the reasons why Lu Hsün, after his departure from Peking, did not continue to write short stories, about the decline of his creative powers, about the sacrifice of his art to politics, and other suppositions in the same vein. C. T. Hsia considers all sorts of causes, but has a blind spot for the most obvious: It was the murder of students by the reactionary regime of Tuan Ch’i-jui, on March 28, 1926, which drove Lu Hsün out of Peking, and it was the bloody putsch of Chiang Chieh-shih, in April 1927, which obliged him to leave Canton.
These two events are undoubtedly what convinced Lu Hsün of the necessity of devoting all his energies to the fight against reaction, and from that time Lu Hsün became an uncompromising fighter. That this struggle and the necessity, at the same time, to earn enough in small fees to keep his family, left him little time for calm creative work is obvious. But his essays from this period testify to exceptional intellectual strength and certainly far outstrip the essays written prior to 1925, which often deal with matters of small significance.
The whole presentation of Lu Hsün’s life from the time of his activities in Canton to his death in 1936, as it comes from C. T. Hsia’s pen, is a mixture of half-truths and distortions of fact. For every reader it would be highly instructive to compare C. T. Hsia’s description with the altogether objective book by Dr. Huang Sung-k’ang, Lu Hsün and the New Culture Movement of Modern China (Amsterdam 1957).
3. Individual Portraits
Let us turn our attention now to what C. T. Hsia has to say about two authors toward whom he is not so prejudiced as against Lu Hsün, namely, Mao Tun and Lao She. We can bracket the two, as our author himself compares them. On p. 165, he writes: “Lao She and Mao Tun . . . offer in many ways an interesting contrast. Mao Tun uses an ornate literary vocabulary; Lao She at his best writes a pure Peking vernacular. Using the time-honoured 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. Mao Tun is distinguished for his gallery of heroines; Lao She’s protagonists are nearly always men; whenever possible, he eschews romantic subject matter. Mao Tun records the passive feminine response to the chaotic events of contemporary Chinese history; more concerned with individual destinies than social forces, Lao She shows his heroes in action,” etc.
I think this passage gives us a very good idea of the purely subjective approach of C. T. Hsia to literary questions. It has been proved innumerable times, in philosophy, literature and painting, that the differentiation, on the basis of innate qualities or natural disposition, between northerners and southerners, in Chinese culture, is completely invalid.
But let us seek to ascertain in what measure the true qualities of the authors are described, at least as real differences between them. First of all in the matter of style, C. T. Hsia states that Mao Tun “uses an ornate literary vocabulary,” whereas Lao She writes “a pure Peking vernacular.” It would take us too far to investigate the correctness of this assertion and, mainly, in which cases it applies and in which not. As regards Mao Tun, he undoubtedly consistently uses a “literary vocabulary,” but only in parts of certain works do elaborate descriptions occur, his predominating style being that of simple epic narration; for instance, the greater part of his best short stories is written in a simple epic style. It is, therefore, necessary to pose the question as to the reason for this difference in the use of linguistic means between the two authors under comparison. It is clearly a question that every literary historian should feel obliged to solve.
In ascertaining the differences in the use of linguistic material, the literary historian, as I have shown in the case of Lu Hsün, would need to take into consideration the whole body of a writer’s work and, step by step, discover what function the individual components fill in this work. He would then undoubtedly find that Mao Tun consistently uses the method of European classical realism and in this way erases in his stories every trace of the narrator. He presents his material in such a way as to give the reader the impression that he himself is a direct observer of the action described and not that somebody is describing it for him. It stands to reason that such an impersonal description, in which the author allots to himself the role of a photographic lens registering the action, requires a neutral language, that is, the established literary language. In certain cases, Mao Tun then lays the main stress on the suggestive power of the scene he pictures and then he employs what seems to C. T. Hsia to be “an ornate style.”
Lao She, on the contrary, underlines the function of the narrator. In his first novels, the author-narrator is very much in the foreground and this calls for a strongly individualized language. This tendency comes out very clearly in Lao She’s short tales,4 which are very often in the form of lively narration by a specific narrator; hence, here the individualization of the language is still more striking.
Naturally, this difference in the use of linguistic material has deeper reasons, determined by the differing aims of the artistic production of the two authors. Here C. T. Hsia guessed the right reason, for Lao She is, indeed, “more concerned with individual destinies than social forces.” Lao She aims above all at writing an interesting story, wishing to tell it in his individualized style, skilfully exploiting the liveliness and colorfulness of the language of everyday speech. This style and the complexity of the plots of his novels are reminiscent, on the one hand, of the art of the old Chinese story-teller and, on the other, of his favorite model—Dickens. His literary intention is the description of an unusual individual fate or psychological disposition, so that his works are often studies of queer human “characters.” His interest in social problems is, in comparison, of quite secondary importance and, indeed, we may say that often he does not understand these very correctly. Wherever he departs from stories of individuals and puts social problems in the foreground, the result is an artistic failure, an instance in point being his novel City of Cats. Incontestibly, in the choice of his characters and in the description of the often curious and never dull vicissitudes of their lives, there is considerable romanticism, and undoubtedly more than in Mao Tun. Let us recall only the ups and downs of fortune which mark the life-story of the boy Camel Hsiang-tzu, or the wide variety of portraits in his gallery of brigands and adventurers in his short stories. Nothing more is necessary to repudiate the theory of differences between the romantic South and the unromantic North as applied to these two authors.
The main difference between Mao Tun and Lao She must be sought elsewhere. Mao Tun aims to pinpoint the social problems of China at a specific moment in time, the singular fate of individuals being of interest to him only insofar as it serves to illustrate the problem in question. In order the more incisively to show the operation of these social forces, Mao Tun often decribes the fate of a human being crushed by these forces, which he vainly seeks to oppose. Thus, in the case of Mao Tun, it is not a matter of “passive feminine response to the chaotic events of contemporary Chinese history” (Hsia, p. 165), but of a carefully thought out procedure—we could (in the case of the novel Twilight for instance) speak in fact of a scientific method—for a correct and convincing description of Chinese social problems. As his intention is also to show the intolerable character of this social situation—for Mao Tun considers literature to be an important weapon in the political arsenal—he chooses women as the main characters in his novels, for their fate was, in the given social situation, as a rule more cruel than that of men. It must be said, too, that Mao Tun’s heroes are not in any way less active than Lao She’s heroes; they battle even more stubbornly against their fate—but the outcome, in conformity with their social standing in the relevant historical context, was usually tragic. Thus the whole theory put forward by Hsia of “a feminine, romantic, sensuous, melancholic South,” as represented by Mao Tun’s work, has no foundation in fact.
Thus we could continue to substitute a correct and systematic interpretation for the confused agglomeration of chance epithets which C. T. Hsia employs in his comment on the two authors.
I only wish to remark, in the case of Lao She, how the latter’s outstanding achievements in the domain of the short story have evidently escaped C. T. Hsia, and that his selection of samples from Mao Tun is not much more judicious. To illustrate the work of Mao Tun he chooses the trilogy Shih (The Eclipse) and the novels Hung (The Rainbow) and Tzu-yeh (The Twilight). We can only say that the unfinished novel Rainbow is not particularly typical of Mao Tun, as follows from what we said above. In this novel Mao Tun aims to combine the analysis of a social situation with the story of an individual, and this attempt to combine two purposes is not altogether successful. As regards The Eclipse, it should have been explained that it was written under the impression of a despairing mood, evoked by the betrayal of Chiang Chieh-shih and the collapse of the revolution of 1928, instead of which C. T. Hsia awards the author marks for “honesty,” to the disparagement of other fellow writers, such as Wang T’ung-chao, Chang Tzu-p’ing and Chiang Kuang-tz’u (p. 141). Beyond a passable reproduction of the content of these works, C. T. Hsia has not a single comment of importance from the point of view of the literary historian, who would certainly be impressed by the exceptional activization of the characters in the very first part of the trilogy (the impressions and feelings of the characters become the carriers of the narration), by the concentration of the narrative in internal monologues, a procedure which links Mao Tun with the most modern authors of the period following the first World War. Similarly, of interest for every literary historian would be the author’s attempt to give a picture of a specific social situation in the second part of the trilogy by means of a large number of single episodes, illuminating it from different angles, a method allied to that used by John Dos Passos and elaborated by Mao Tun in his subsequent works.
We cannot refute all the unjust criticisms which C. T. Hsia directs against the novel “Eclipse,” in which he characterizes Mao Tun’s penportraits of various types of the Shanghai bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie as caricatures dictated by his Communist view of the world and wanting in “the accent of passion or conviction” (p. 157). At the same time he is silent on the fact that Mao Tun, in his striving after absolute objectivity, presents in this novel what is on the whole a negative picture of Communist Party functionaries and, with the same objectivity, describes various groups of women workers in Wu Sun-fu’s factory. Possibly Mao Tun sees the world about him in too dark colors, but it is a grave injustice to reproach him for lack of “passion, conviction” or of “self-tormenting honesty” (p. 157). On the contrary, it is this self-tormenting honesty which is the main driving power in the creative make-up of this writer.
The short stories of Mao Tun, no less than those of Lao She, are treated by C. T. Hsia in a very stepmotherly fashion. He does not reproduce correctly the sense of the first highly ironical tale by Mao Tun, Ch’uang-tsao (Creation). It certainly is not true that “the heroine of ‘Creation’ feels compelled to leave her husband and mentor because she has advanced beyond his noncommittal intellectual dilettantism to a positive socialist position” (p. 161). The parting words of the wife are far too ambiguous to admit such a straightforward interpretation, nor can we say that she worked her way to any “socialist position,” but only that she became used to thinking and acting independently and to taking an interest in politics, the latter of very indefinite orientation. The husband, however, then regrets that it was he who set her on this road to freedom, which is far from his liking. All his earlier preaching about emancipation was nothing more than a silly game. Mao Tun’s art here reveals itself in a plot kept within moderate undramatic limits, in the description of fine nuances of feeling in the chief characters of husband and wife, and in the ironical confrontation of theoretical views and the reality of their being put in practice.
No less distorted is the picture C. T. Hsia gives of the mediumlength story Ch’fun-tsan (Spring Silkworms), which he rates the highest of all Mao Tun’s stories. Certainly Mao Tun cannot be said to “invest the family,” which he describes in this tale, “with the kind of unquestioned piety habitual with Chinese peasants” . . . “and unfaltering trust in a beneficent Heaven” (p. 163). 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 . His family did not share his belief and Mao Tun’s portrait of this family is not at all a touching and “loving portrayal of good peasants,” as C. T. Hsia would have us believe. Mao Tun proceeds to show the disintegration of this family under the pressure of cruel poverty and, in the end, old T’ung-pao must admit that his youngest son is right who already grasps that not senseless drudgery, but only the decision to fight for their rights can free the peasantrv.
Despite the greater objectivity of the picture presented of the work of Yeh Shao-chün, as compared with the descriptions of the work of unequivocally Leftist writers, C. T. Hsia touches only very lightly on the basic problem which comes up in connection with Yeh Shao-chün, as well as with a number of writers of this period, namely, the problem of subjectivism, the close interlinking of the work of art with the personal experiences, feelings and views of the author. Very often the author does not seek to seize and hold fast objective reality, but records his own private experiences and describes his own inner states. And even where the author tries to give a more objective picture of the world, he does so by the objectivization of his inner world, by the generalization of his own experiences, expunging from these all that has merely individual validity. It would certainly be rewarding to devote some thought to this attitude of Chinese writers and seek to explain it. C. T. Hsia is aware of this problem, but devotes only occasional remarks to it, as, for instance, on p. 65: “. . . the sympathetic bond between author and hero is too personally close to generate the kind of ironic objectivity which distinguishes Yeh Shao-chün’s better short stories.” It is not merely a matter of irony; what is important is the measure of success with which the author is able to place himself outside his individual experience, which is always singular and isolated, and create a picture that is general and typical, a procedure we spoke of in connection with Lu Hsün.
An example of a writer who was able at least in certain of his works to recast his individual experiences and raise them to the level of general pictures is, undoubtedly, Yü Ta-fu, the only writer of the considerable group associated in the Creation Society of whose work C. T. Hsia gives a critical assessment. But C. T. Hsia’s selection from his works is not particularly happy. True, our author does analyze one of the best of Yü Ta-fu’s short stories, “’Intoxicating Spring Nights,” but leaves uncommented the story which shows most clearly that tendency to grasp and render the world through the projection of a personal experience, the tale Po-tien (A Humble Sacrifice). In this story of the tragic fate of a rickshaw-man whom he met by chance, the author concentrates the whole terrible fate of the Chinese proletariat. Similarly, C. T. Hsia overlooks the tale in which the author’s personal tragedy is narrated with such power that it becomes the expression of human suffering in general. The story in question is called I-ko jen tsai t’u shang (A Lonely Man on a Journey), and it describes the death of the author’s little son. Especially in these stories, Yü Ta-fu shows himself to be a master of style and composition so that it is not possible to censor him, as does С. T. Hsia (p. 109), for “a sentimental and careless style which blemishes all his stories.”
If it was not right to ignore the problem of the close integration of the work of art with the author’s life in the case of Yeh Shao-chün, it is all the less possible to do so when speaking of work of such marked subjectivism as that of Yü Ta-fu. Here an allusion to “a Rousseauist confession” (p. 105) is not sufficient. It would be necessary to investigate the connection of the whole trend with European romanticism, Japanese watakushi shōsetsu (Ich-Erzählung) and, mainly, with the native Chinese tradition. Without such research, it is, for instance, quite impossible to discover the roots of some of Yü Ta-(fu’s best sketches. In my view, C. T. Hsia does not fully appreciate the significance of this subjectivist literature, either in the social context of its time or in the literary context. C. T. Hsia makes this observation: “. . . the subjective hero is not without social significance, however: he is the impotent patriot, the harassed family man, the artist alienated from society” (p. 105). This is true, so far as it goes, but above all these frequently overwrought outbursts of Yü Ta-fu and Kuo Mo-jo are the cries of protest of an individual straining to break at last the fetters of a feudal society. It was necessary to show what man looks like, with all his faults and even vices, in order to be able to build up a new morality, founded on man’s truly human qualities. And as regards the literary context, it was necessary to explore the complex labyrinth of human psychology, completely unknown to the older writers. In these respects, it would be essential to supplement C. T. Hsia’s analysis.
The worst treatment of all C. Τ. Hsia metes out to the literature of the Liberated Areas and the literature of the period subsequent to the Liberation, in 1949, for it is literature serving the fight for freedom and the building of a socialist society, which is enough to prompt C. T. Hsia to pronounce the following sweeping judgment: “At their best, the recent novelists have rendered a superficial documentary realism, which is a fake realism because the deep-seated feelings and thoughts of the people have been systematically distorted to allow for the joyous note of the optimistic formula” (p. 481). C. T. Hsia cites several names, but not even such works, full of true feeling and describing in a splendid way regions hitherto completely neglected in Chinese literature, such as Ou-yang Shan’s kao Cb’ien-ta , or Chou Li-po’s Pao-feng tsou-уü —“Hurricane,” which are certainly worth the trouble of a short analysis, being incomparably richer in the facts and experiences of life than the works he so extols. Not a word of mention has С. T. Hsia for the output of exquisite short stories from the Liberated Areas, though those of Wei Chün-i , Wang Lin K’ang Cho , and the reportages of Hua Shan and Lin Pai-yü , maintain the high level attained by the Chinese short story before the War.
С. T. Hsia deals in detail only with the work of Chao Shu-li and Ting Ling. As regards the former, C. T. Hsia is quite unable to grasp the special charm of these stories, in which the traditions of folk story-telling are skilfully turned to account. And so the first of Chao Shu-li’s stories “The Marriage of Hsiao Er-hei” and “The Verses of Li Yu-ts’ai” (which have the same attraction of fresh folk inspiration as the New Year pictures dating from the same time), are dismissed with expressions of the greatest contempt (p. 482): They are, so he says, “two of the feeblest stories ever to have been thrust upon public attention . . . Chao Shu-li’s clumsy and clownish style is utterly incompetent to serve the purposes of narration,” etc. C. T. Hsia simply ignores the need to create a literature for the broad masses of the country people and, at the same time, a literature enabling them to find their bearings in the process of social change going on about them. This necessity Chao Shu-li grasped even prior to Mao Tse-tung’s speech in Yenan, and to it he consistently subordinated his literary production. If we disregard the aim which the writer had in view, we cannot do justice to his work.
C. T. Hsia accords a higher rating only to Chao Shu-li’s novel The Changes in Li Village or, at least, to its first part. For his latest work, San-li Wan, he has only words of ridicule. 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. He was faced here with a problem which is engaging at the present time the attention of many writers who are adherents to the principles of socialist realism.
As regards the work of Ting Ling, we were obliged above to protest against the offensive tone in which C. T. Hsia speaks of this writer. And so, too, from her whole extensive pre-War output, testifying to the exceptional range of her literary gifts and to the maturity of her view of life and of Chinese society at that time—Ting Ling was the first of the young writers to realize the harmfulness of a superficial and sentimental approach to reality —, C. T. Hsia discusses in greater detail only the novel Water, taking certain parts and treating them out of their context, greatly distorting the character of the work as a whole. Already in this piece of prose, Ting Ling succeeds in evoking in a highly suggestive manner the atmosphere of a Chinese village over which hangs the threat of a terrible natural catastrophe. On the other hand, it was a problem of considerable complexity to describe the life-story, not of individuals, but of a whole collective, and from this point of view, too, Water is a notable attempt to render artistically one of the most significant realities of pre-War China.
Of Ting Ling’s equally large production of the War and post-War years, our author gives a short summary of the contents of the novel Sun over the Sangkan River and reproduces the description of the scene in which the people punish the landowner, Ch’ien Wen-kuei, again exploiting this passage for attacks on the Communist Party.
Of the art of Ting Ling, whose immense number of detail shots build up to an exceptionally lively and truthful mosaic of life in a Chinese village in the period of revolutionary change, C. T. Hsia says practically nothing. Her striving after the objective documenting of this complex and often painful process of social regeneration serves our author only as a pretext for seeking in the writer’s work signs of “a latent hostility toward the Communist régime” (p. 488).
Naturally we have not such strong critical reservations toward all the chapters of C. T. Hsia’s compendious volume as we have toward the passages to which we have given special attention above. But the very considerable material which the author has brought together on the new literature could certainly have been put to much better use if the author had moderated his political animosities and concentrated in greater measure on trying to grasp the great literary process which is going on in China today. Thus the value of his book is greatly depreciated, for practically none of it can be used without critical examination and reassessment. In many places, too, the book sinks to the level of malicious propaganda.
As an appendix to C. T. Hsia’s book there is a study of literature on Taiwan by his brother Tsi-an Hsia. This survey, written with much more balanced judgment than C. T. Hsia’s volume, can serve to point the moral of what happens to a literature that turns its back on the main social problems and, in accordance with the advice of C. T. Hsia, sets out on the path of “disinterested moral exploration.” An escape literature of negligible significance arises, so that Tsi-an Hsia cannot, for the whole period of Kuomintang domination of Taiwan, cite a single writer of importance. This situation then actually awakes a longing for the socially engaged and vitally alive literature of pre-War China. Tsi-an Hsia asserts, it is true, that leftist literature in the Chinese People’s Republic is as dead as on Taiwan, which of course is not true, but he adds a very interesting rider (p. 511): “Swinging to the other extreme of the political pendulum, the Taiwan writers today, especially the writers of fiction, are content with being mere day-dreamers. I do not know of a single novel published on Taiwan in the last ten years that deals, seriously or humorously, with the life of peasants, workers, or the petty-bourgeois class of teachers and government clerks to which the writers themselves, with few exceptions, belong. It is easy now to laugh at the naiveté and wishful thinking of the leftist writers and their unobservant distortion of social reality, but having surfeited myself with a steady diet of vaporous writings, I do sometimes miss the hardness, the harshness, the fiery concern with social justice that we find in the best works of the leftist school.”
The judgment implicit in the above sentences is, in substance, a condemnation of all those views and theories, in the name of which C. T. Hsia goes into action against the main stream of Chinese literature since 1918. Had Chinese writers gone the way so highly commended by C. T. Hsia, they would not only have betrayed their historical mission, but also doomed their own work to insignificance. In this connection, it is worth pointing out how very different is the approach of the Taiwan author to the personality and work of Lu Hsün, as compared with the treatment meted out to him by C. T. Hsia: “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 . . .” (p. 509). I think that this confrontation of the view of the Taiwan literary critic and the assessment made of Lu Hsün by C. T. Hsia is the most conclusive proof of how completely C. T. Hsia has distorted the picture of the great Chinese writer.՝ We must, in general, qualify C. T. Hsia’s book as a lost opportunity. Considering the lamentable insufficiency of serious books on the new Chinese literature in western languages, we should welcome every work designed, even from a critical standpoint, to help the European reader to gain some idea of the immense cultural rebirth which China has undergone since the beginning of this century, and especially its reflection in literature. But the preliminary requirement for the author of such a work would have to be, at the very least, an honest endeavor to grasp this whole complex process and to present it in an objective and unbiased fashion. As it is, every future scholar returning to this theme will have to deal anew with the large body of material assembled here.
The fact that C. T. Hsia has done a considerable piece of work from the point of view of literary research is shown by the bibliographies, tables and indexes at the end of the book, which, although objection may be taken to their arrangement, present a considerable amount of useful data.
Published in T’oung Pao 49 (1962), 357-404.
1 С. T. Hsia, A History of Modern Chinese Fiction 1917-1957, with an Appendix on Taiwan by Tsi-an Hsia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961).
2Lu Hsün ch’üan-chi, Peking 1956, Vol. 4, p. 393. Compare Selected Worb of Lu Hsün, Peking 1956, Vol. 3, p. 320.
3C. T. Hsia does, it is true, admit on p. 46 that Lu Hsün wished “to serve his country as a spiritual physician,” but immediately adds that “in his best stories, however, he is content to probe the disease without prescribing the cure.” As we shall show below, Lu Hsün in his stories points to those responsible for causing the disease and fights them with all the weapons in the writer’s arsenal. And the fighting of disease-carriers must undoubtedly be considered as the first step toward cure. Lu Hsün then carried on his fight against disease in his essays and political activities. In other words, testing the validity of Hsia’s judgment by the facts is sufficient for reaching the conclusion that Lu Hsün’s work and development are completely of a piece, so that all Hsia’s attacks on Lu Hsün’s intellectual and artistic honesty are thereby rendered void.
4For my descriptions of Lao She’s short stories I have drawn on the excellent anthology compiled and edited by my pupil, Z. Slupski.