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A Madman’s Diary-Lu Xun

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A Madman’s Diary-Lu Xun

A Madman’s Diary is china’s first modern novel which had a historical and literary significance. It was written by Lu Xun who was nicknamed “the father of modern Chinese literature” for writing this novel and for changing the Chinese literature back then. It was published in New Youth magazine in 1918.

The story talks about a man who had some kind of schizophrenia. He was delusional about the idea that the people around him; neighbors, friends, family and his doctor eat other people; are cannibals. More precisely this man was paranoid that all the towns’ people and children as well including his brother are plotting to eat him after they make him kill himself.

The cannibalism in the story portrays the feudalistic society at that time; the people at the top of society use and take advantage of those below them, apathetically, taking away their lives. At the beginning of the 20th century; the period in which this work was published witnessed Western influences and capitalism. China was defeated by Japanese and European powers the political change at these time wasn’t enough; it didn’t make the necessary change for a whole nation.  So China needed a cultural change that might help put an end to such foreign aggression.

A Madman’s Diary was Lu Xun’s first step in changing an oppressive and abusive society in a way that it should be more humanistic is nature, in Lu Xun words “to cure Chinese souls”. Our first task was surely to transform their spirit, and I thought at that time that literature could best meet the task of spiritual transformation. I then began to think about promoting literary activities” (Lu Xun, 30). In doing so he also used different writing techniques than the traditional ones used back then; Lu Xun does not follow traditional techniques because “Diary of a Madman” is his rejection to Chinese customs” (Nikola Jan S., 1). Not just the substance of story calls for a change, but using contemporary writing style does so as well. In doing so it is as if he is calling for a radical change in Chinese people’s spirit and perspective to what is happening around them; as a wakeup call from a blind follow of tradition which was taking a whole nation to the edge of doom. Especially the last line in the story which gives people a glimpse of hope that things can still change; you people can begin with this change by shifting your children perspectives of old traditions which brought China to destruction.

In my opinion this story is a masterpiece. The way he portrayed feudalism through cannibalism is genius. Conveying the idea through a madman makes it easier for the reader to accept the idea; since a madman is mad, whatever he says he is excused. I think that Lu Xun a wise man, because he went much further than any one at the time. The idea itself, of changing a whole nation’s beliefs and perspectives through literature is smart.    

Work cited

  1. Alayan, Nikola Jan S. Lu Xun’s A Madman’s Diary Analysis. scribd.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 14 June. 2019. < https://www.scribd.com/document/202378789/A-Madman-s-Diary-Analysis#download>.
  2. A Madman's Diary. coursewikis.fas.harvard.edu. Mediawiki, 22 Feb.2011. Web. 14 June. 2016. https://coursewikis.fas.harvard.edu/aiu18/A_Madman%27s_Diary
  3. Gray, Kerry. Lu Xun's Diary of a Madman: Analysis & Interpretation. Study.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 14 June. 2016. https://study.com/academy/lesson/xuns-diary-of-a-madman-analysis-interpretation.html.



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