25.11.2020 in Literature

China’s Transition


Chinas traditional history dates back to as early as 1500 BC. The conventional outlook on Chinese history reveals irregular periods of political harmony and disunity with China sporadically being subjugated by steppe peoples. Traditions were highly valued but, due to the influence of the western communities, there was a need to incorporate both tradition and modernity so as to achieve more for the country. Modernization met with its fair share of setbacks, but different scholars took it upon themselves to fill the gap between the literate and illiterate. Various writers used different approaches in their writing to help in the transition from traditions to modernity by revealing the evils in the society, inequalities and the governments failures through indirect literary techniques.

Lu Xuns approach to a literary movement helping Chinas transition from tradition to modernity

For the most of the 20th century, Lu Xun was considered Chinas greatest modern writer. Like many Chinese writers of his time, he was deeply distressed by political and social disasters he saw and experienced. Unlike many young people in China who chose to study Chinese classics or who opted to take exams for the imperial bureaucracy, he opted to study Western medicine. Lu Xun saw Chinese traditions as oppressively claustrophobic and overpowering to the extent that he viewed his creative struggle against them as futile.

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From Lu Xuns quotation it is evident that he opted to use his writing skills to express his disappointment in the system to his readers. He thought that literature was the best tool for reforming a nation after seeing the Chinese peoples indifference toward the execution of a fellow countryman. Regardless of his wish to free his country as well as to eliminate foreign intervention in Chinas affairs, he believed and knew that this could only be achieved by adopting the Western attitude.

Lu Xun was very optimistic about the literary movements as a key to transition from tradition to modernity. Apparently, this can be echoed by the fact that he left his medicine studies in Japan and went back to China in 1906 because he felt that what China needed was not the treatment for physical sickness, but the spiritual and mental one. Upon his return, he dedicated his whole life to literature, education and encouraging young people since he saw them as the main hope for the future of China.

Lu Xuns imagination was pegged on the thought that radical social change would not occur in China, but he did not mind idealizing revolutionary heroes. He presented his views through exaggerated characters and vivid analogies, offering an indirect sensitive description of the Chinese peoples suffering. He imagined a transition where his readers could relate their living standards to his fictional stories and call for a change. The darkness and intensity of his visions and stories were disturbing and moving, which created an experience like no other to his readers.

Read also: “Writing a Book Report”

Mao Duns approach to a literary movement helping Chinas transition from tradition to modernity

Mao Dun derived his particular and distinctive brand of realism from indigenous and foreign influences despite his not having studied abroad. He incorporated literary giants in his writing, reshaping their ideas to fit the Chinese paradigms including his own agenda. Mao Dun in a very accurate manner tried to portray various classes of people in the Chinese society. He started to promote the realism movement through his literary writing since he deemed it to be the best means to address the current needs of the Chinese people.

From his quotation, it is evident that ordinary people in the small village were suffering from oppression. Despite their dependence on cocoons to earn them income, Chinas economic and political struggles against the invading Japanese troops, let alone corrupt Guomingdang officials, left them with stocks of cocoons and with no buyers. Still, government tax collectors stormed the village demanding nothing less than tax payments from the villagers. From the context, Mao Dun uses literature to show how the villagers dignity of hard labor is shamed by factors and circumstances beyond the villagers control, as well as the futility of individual farmers endeavor.

Mao Dun imagines a transition of naturalism by reflecting a concern about the packed strata of the Chinese people. In all his literary work, he tends to favor neo-romanticism and symbolism in expressing his opinions on the issues faced by the Chinese villagers. Mao Duns fiction writing was influenced by Western literary movements and Chinese forces since they did not distinguish themselves from the Chinese history.

Lao Shes approach to a literary movement helping Chinas transition from tradition to modernity

Lao She strongly opposed the change since he believed that for one to change the basis of ethical or moral grounds was equivalent to self-removal from ones history. The basis for his literary work is quite generic and universal since resisting change is a part of human nature. He pegs his ideology on the possibility of change corroding traditional moral values, which may lead people to lose vital values like the truth, integrity and trust, which stand as the cornerstones of human trade and interaction.

From Lao Shes quotation, Xin Dezhi, who is a senior apprentice, seems to believe that adoption of new business strategies was not such a bad thing, but preserving the old and established name was also vital. Still, he hopes that things would go back to how they were before manager Qians return. Lao Shes attitude towards change is predicated on his pessimistic outlook on the masses of an extended and well-known moral tradition that dignifies individual existence. Lao Shes imagination of transition was that of dependence on self-righteous way of avoiding exterior influences in life.

Shen Congwens approach to a literary movement helping Chinas transition from tradition to modernity

Shen Congwens literary works were based on efforts to eulogize a better and healthier way of human life, a spiritual and more humane relationship between all individuals and to eliminate that human void of contamination brought by modern civilization. He criticized the castrated idea of ancient officials as well as portrayed the oppressed and trampled figures of the poor. From his quotation, it is clear that the lives of all people changed with modernization since they had to give commodities ranging from clothes to chimneys for lamps. Their lives were altered and contaminated by civilization. Shen Congwen imagined a transition whereby life could go back to how it used to be before civilization, when communities were free of vanity, corruption, and hypocrisy.


In summary, I find Lu Xuns approach to be the most persuasive because he used literature to enlighten and unify different groups through fictional stories and, at the very most, he avoided direct sensitive portrayal of the suffering of the Chinese people. Over the years, China has undergone a lot of transition because of the various scholars who, through their literal works, helped to transform traditions into modernity. Despite the fact that other scholars did not advocate for civilization in the long run, their input remains greatly appreciated nowadays for their thoughts that contributed to modernity in China.

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