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Chapter 10 - Lu Xun’s Literary Revolution in Chinese Marxism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2022

Colleen Lye
University of California, Berkeley
Christopher Nealon
Johns Hopkins University
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In what ways was China’s literary modernism central to its Marxism? Despite Chinese revolutionary culture’s many twists and turns from class struggle to economic reconstruction, Marxist intellectuals in China have consistently identified Lu Xun (1881–1936), a modernist writer who never joined the CCP and dismissed its revolutionary literature as an “unfortunate confusion of guns with words,” as having drawn the blueprint of the country’s communist future. Instead of reexamining the writer’s political alignment with CCP leaders or the extent and accuracy of his knowledge of Marx, this chapter takes up the perplexing question of Lu Xun’s Marxism by recasting his modernist experimentations with irony, rhetorical displacement, and metafictional excess as the construction of a materialist aesthetics centered on disposable populations that appear, at first, either independent of capital–labor relations or anterior to primitive accumulation in the beginning years of China’s traumatic incorporation into the world capitalist system.

After Marx
Literature, Theory, and Value in the Twenty-First Century
, pp. 161 - 175
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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