Lu Xun (1881–1936), China’s most famous modern writer, was born in the small market town of Shaoxing, near Shanghai. In 1901 he went to Japan, intending to become a doctor. In his medical school class, he saw a slide of apathetic Chinese bystanders watching the execution of a Chinese man by Japanese soldiers during the Russo-Japanese war of 1905. Shocked by their passivity, he concluded that China’s most deadly disease afflicted the spirit, not the body. He returned to China, resolving to become a writer to rouse his people from their deadly slumber. In “Call to Arms,” his first short story collection, he described with great sympathy and insight the foibles of ordinary Chinese folk following time-honored customs, nearly oblivious of the worldwide crisis that surrounded them. In “Diary of a Madman,” whose title is borrowed from the Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, the writer suddenly realizes that the basic principle of China’s classic civilization is “eat people.” Ah Q, Lu Xun’s most famous character, blithely walks to his own execution without ever knowing why he joined the cause of revolutionary nationalism. Lu Xun and his colleagues particularly stressed the need to free women from the straitjacket of traditional morality so that they could participate actively in making the new nation. Lu Xun organized the League of Left Wing Writers to mobilize Chinese writers in the service of revolutionary nationalism. Lu Xun’s mood constantly oscillated between high hopes and black despair. He died in 1936, hoping for China’s national unification based on radical social revolution, defying his own repressive government and the imminent threat of Japanese invasion.