The Greatest Sayings of Lu Xun

Ten quotes from the 20th-century literary giant that tackle past—and present—Chinese society

Lu Xun, arguably the greatest Chinese writer of the 20th century, is considered the founding father of modern Chinese literature. Lu Xun had a huge influence not only on his own country’s literary movement but also its overall development.

Born on September 25, 1881, in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province,  Zhou Shuren (Lu Xun was a pen name) published his first short story, Diary of a Madman, in 1918. Known for his incisive style, Lu Xun was a master of irony and satire, but one can also find in his works deep empathy for the foolishness and apathy that he criticized in Chinese society.

Since many of his works are still compulsory reading in schools, almost every educated person can recall several of Lu Xun’s renowned sayings. Here are 10 quotes that show the literary master at his most penetrating—most of which are still relevant today.

  • 中国人的性情是总喜欢调和折中的,譬如你说,这屋子太暗,须在这里开一个窗,大家一定不允许的。但如果你主张拆掉屋顶他们就来调和,愿意开窗了。
    “As a nation, Chinese people like to compromise and mediate. For example, If you say, the room is too dark and we need to open a window, people will definitely not approve. But if you propose to remove the roof, they will begin to mediate. Then, everyone will agree to open a window.”

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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