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Lu Xun and Walt Whitman: spokesmen of the people - Essay Example

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Literature of any nation reflects its culture, ethos and political struggles. Most of the literary figures show consciousness of the socio-political changes taking place in their society and depict them in their creative output…
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Lu Xun and Walt Whitman: spokesmen of the people
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A comparative analysis of Whitman and Chinese novelist Lu Xun was made who were regarded and respected as national figures of their respective countries. Both introduced modern trends in their local literatures and also wrote about those features of human existence that are shared by everybody.

But their nationalism is not ethnocentric rather it is homocentric and they explored those aspects of their cultures which reflect their humanity. Such practice brought these men of letters closer to the people. Both the writers were the “ people’s writer” and had keen interest in the pains and pleasures of their fellow beings. Both remained in front and became icons of their nationalism and humanism. Both Whitman and Lu were venerated as national assets of their country and were revered as national poets or intellectuals. National heroes Gloria Davies in the initial section of her books remarks: “Every country has its founding heroes whose contributions, in word or deed , are regularly commemorated and celebrated as part of the nation’s origin story. In People’s Republic of China , Lu Xun is the Pre-eminent man of letter in that story , revered not only as nation builder but also , and perhaps most importantly, as the voice of nations conscience” (“ Lu Xun’s Revolution” 1). Lu Xun’s name is famous in connection with modernism in Chinese literature. “ Since Confucius was the sage of feudal China, Lu Xun should be regarded as the sage of modern China.(qtd. in Davies, “ Lu Xun’s Revolution” 7). He was revered across the political spectrum of China’s intellectual world and in death was given the supreme accolade “ the soul of the nation” (minzu hun) : the phrase was reverently emblazoned on the white flag that draped his coffin.”( 9). He was the exponent of change and supported radical changes in society and literature of China. Born in a family which was impoverished and lost the breadwinner quite early, Lu’s life was supposed to be a constant struggle. But under the affection of his literate mother, Lu Xun showed considerable passion for learning and attended some good schools which shaped the intellectual substance of young man’s mind who at an early age became involved in activities that promoted social change. Lu at an early change developed a keen passion for revolution and joined different revolutionary parties like Guang Fu Hui and was among those who were successful in toppling down Qing Dynasty in China. But the disillusionment with the revolution was realized by Lu Xun quite soon, when he saw his country again under the repression of colonial forces. Whitman and Modernism in Chinese literature Walt Whitman enjoyed the same status in his country as was bestowed upon Lu Xung. Huang in his book tries to trace the influence of Whitman on Chinese literature. He went to the extent of comparing Whitman and Shakespeare regarding their impact on Chinese literature. Huang declares that Shakespeare who was brought into Chinese culture through missionaries was considered a product of west for Chinese culture while Whitman’s entry and acceptance in Chinese culture was more voluntary than imposed. Whitman’s work in a way worked as a catalyst to bring about modernism in China. “The cultural and literary exchange between China and America that place in the first decade of twentieth century was indeed vital to the birth of modernism in both countries”(qtd. in Huang 190). Democratic spirit in Whitman and Lu Xun Liz Carter while writing about removal of some specific texts of Lu from Chinese books remarks that “Lu Xun’s works are classics, and represent the ‘spirit of the Chinese people” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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