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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Leaving home was the quintessential modern act for Chinese intellectuals in the early twentieth century, as home had come to represent cultural backwardness and oppression by the early Republican period. At the same time as they wrote of leaving it, however, modern Chinese writers also often wrote of returning home. This chapter analyzes the complex relationships between the individual and his home in Lu Xun’s first-person reminiscences. As representations of the return of a repressed past, literary representations of returning home complicate facile narratives of modern subject formation and suggest that the experience of modernity in this period of transition was an ambivalent and uneasy one. A closer look at such narratives of returning home suggests that the relationship with tradition in Chinese modernity is far more difficult and conflicted than the paradigm of “May Fourth iconoclasm” and its discourse of modernity’s radical rupture with tradition allows.

Keywords: Lu Xun, modernity, tradition, home, iconoclasm

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