Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 January 2003
As the first and still the most prominent writer in modern Chinese literature, Lu Xun (1881–1936) had been the object of extensive attention since well before his death. Little noticed, however, is the anomaly that almost nothing was written about Lu Xun in the first five years of his writing career – only eleven items date from the years 1918–23. This article proposes that the five-year lag shows that time was required to learn to read his fiction, a task that necessitated interpretation by insiders, and that further time was required for the creation of a literary world that would respond in the form of published comments. Such an account of the development of his standing has larger applicability to issues relating to the emergence of a modern readership for the New Literature of the May Fourth generation, and it draws attention to the earliest years of that literature. Lu Xun's case represents the earliest instance of a fast-evolving relationship being created between writers and their society in those years.
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