Just published: “Lu Xun and Zhang Binglin: New Culture, Conservatism and Local Tradition”, Sixiangshi/Intellectual History [Unitas, Taipei], vol. 6 (2016), p. 151-193.
One way of qualifying the May Fourth break with tradition is to look at continuities with non-orthodox pre-modern traditions. While the connection between Lu Xun and Zhang Binglin is well understood, this essay proposes a more systematic investigation of how Zhang’s ideas inspired some of Lu Xun’s fiction. In particular, it focuses on how Lu Xun reworked the themes of local traditions as a form of “authentic” non-state culture, and the authenticity of individual morality as the foundation of political emancipation and equality. Lu Xun repeatedly returns to idealized childhood reminiscences of village life and local folklore (in contrast with socially critical portraits in other works), highlighting the subversive potential of local language and culture (for example in “Village Theatre”). He also points out the moral authenticity of interior resistance (for example in “The Loner”), which expresses itself in a uniquely “authentic” local expression. In this sense, Lu Xun’s fiction remains indebted to cultural nostalgia and heterodox traditionalism.