Wang Xun 's Diary Of A Madman Was China 's First Real Major Modern Short Story

Wang Xun 's Diary Of A Madman Was China 's First Real Major Modern Short Story

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Lu Xun’s Diary of a Madman was China’s first real major modern short story. Xun unusually avoided traditional short story writing techniques. He tends to stray from the omniscient narration and replaces it with the author’s subjective, personal point of view. This can be seen as untraditional because it was almost completely unprecedented in Chinese literature of this era. Xun’s ‘I-narration’ (“at school I had been close friends with two brothers whose names I will not omit to mention here.”(p.21) This provides an effective way of further distancing himself from the text and creating a reading of the diary, which allows readers to form different perspectives on the literature. It could be argued that this is slightly ironic as he cleverly adopts the first person narrative to avoid properly revealing himself as the diarist. However, the first person narration can be split into two- the diarist himself, Lu Xun and the person reading the diary. Identity fragmentation is displayed here as all diary entries are numbered consecutively: ‘I’, ‘II’, ‘III’ and with the chronology of the entries the paranoia and insanity of the author is further defined and explored. Xun records his personal views on the people he is surrounded by and he writes on how they are all seemingly involved in the same conspiracy; he illustrates this by depicting “even the children stare [starring] at me like wild beasts” (p.28). The juxtaposed ideas of the innocence of children and the terrifying animalistic imagery of “wild beasts” may serve to highlight his involuntary descent into madness, hence the foreboding title. Initially, the madman claims to have no fear toward these unsettling glances; however, over time, he becomes increasingly fearful of those around ...


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...ns who have been attacked and downtrodden. Lu Xun hopes for change and says:
"Perhaps there are still children who haven 't eaten men? Save the children." (p. 31) It could be argued that by illustrating the younger generation as suffering he hopes that future generations can confront authority and not allow their own generation to succumb to traditionalistic views and metaphorically social cannibalism. To conclude effectively, the use of a growingly insane narrator is an effective way of commenting on the revolutionary reforms of the era both texts were written. By both narrators distancing themselves from the actual events of the text through their somewhat unreliable narrators it becomes easier for the readers of the texts to pick apart the subtext of the diary and short story in order to understand and contextualize the fragmentation of identity of each narrator.

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