Blade of Remembrance: Memory, Objects, and Redemption in Lu Xun

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Critics have observed that memory is an important theme in Lu Xun's writings. At the same time, memory - more precisely a struggle over the shaping of cultural memory - is a vital component of the iconoclastic May Fourth Movement with which Lu Xun is strongly associated. This article examines the ways in which several of Lu Xun's creative writings and memoirs depict memory and its transmission. I argue that, 1) These texts suggest the importance of objects as mnemonic devices that aid the transmission of memory, 2) The agency of the receiver is key in interpreting these texts and in transmitting them onward, and 3) That Lu Xun posits the texts he creates as such mnemonic objects that serve to transmit his interpretation of cultural and personal memory to his readers. Lu Xun's texts thus implicate the reader in the author's project of transmitting onward his reinterpretation of the past in the hope of redeeming China. Examining these mechanisms of memory transmission I conclude that for Lu Xun redemption lies not in a transcendent future but in reexamining the past.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-477
Number of pages25
JournalFrontiers of Literary Studies in China
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.


  • "Diary of a Madman" (Kuangren riji)
  • "Forging the Swords" (Zhu jian)
  • "Mr. Fujino" (Tengye xiansheng)
  • "The Kite" (Fengzheng)
  • Lu Xun
  • memory
  • mnemonic objects
  • redemption
  • transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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