Renditions no. 26 (Autumn 1986)​

Featuring works from Lu Xun’s early and late periods. Paintings by Qiu Sha inspired by Lu Xun’s sayings are included.

166 pages


Table of Contents

Editor’s Page4
Huang YongyuSelections from A Can of Worms
Translated by Geremie Barmé
Zhou ZuorenSeven Essays
Translated by D. E. Pollard, Don J. Cohn & Richard Rigby
The Ageing of Ghosts
In Praise of Mutes
On “Passing the Itch”
Reading on the Toilet
Japan and China
The Chinese National Character — A Japanese View
Japan Re-encountered
Wan ZhiThe Clock
Translated by Bonnie S. McDougall & Kam Louie
Feng MenglongXingshi Hengyan: How Hailing of the Jurchens was Destroyed through Unbridled Lust
Translated by Copal Sukhu
Lu You31 Quatrains
Translated by C. H. Kwock & V. McHugh
Lu XunToward a Refutation of the Voices of Evil
Translated by J. E. Kowallis
————The World of Lu Xun
Paintings by Qiu Sha & Wang Weijun
Lu Xun Confucius in Modern China
Translated by D. E. Pollard
Lu Xun Selected Classical Poems
Translated by J. E. Kowallis
Lu XunWild Grass
Translated by Ng Mau-sang
Notes on Contributors165

Sample Reading

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The Chinese National Character—A Japanese View
By Zhou Zuoren
Translated by Richard Rigby

Yasuoka Hideo, in his The Chinese National Character as Seen in the Novel, published this April [ 1926] by Shuhokaku in Tokyo, sets out in ten chapters the inherently evil characteristics of the Chinese people as evidenced in the novels of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and subjects these characterstics to mockery and abuse. I fully acknowledge the existence of all the failings of which the author accuses the Chinese. The Han race does indeed deserve extinction, and its lack of progress and self-improvement are absolutely incontrovertible facts. For proof of this there is no need to search as far back as the novels of four or five centuries ago: the reality daily assaulting our eyes and ears provides ample and inescapable evidence of cowardice, cruelty, licentiousness, obscurantism and untruthfulness. Not even the most eloquent “nationalist” could offer a convincing defence, and his best efforts would only result in the addition of arrogance and vanity to this catalogue. If this is human nature, then the Chinese is man at his most representa- tive, and the rest of the world shall be at his mercy. If, however, this is not so, and there is no room for the survival of the heartless, the foolish and the cowardly, then China’s continued existence contradicts the very laws of heaven. One might go so far as to say that even were the nation to perish, its crimes would still not be expunged completely! I know not what hallucinogenic potion the Chinese have swallowed in recent times which has induced in them the belief that the so-called culture and ethical code of the East somehow entitles them to lord it over the rest of the world. Fantastic as this may seem, at this very moment they are making a great song and dance about it! Yasuoka’s book should be translated and a copy given to everyone of them, so that they can see how their honourable features really appear, and then judge for themselves whether or not they are good enough to be anything but slaves.

And yet I do not like to see a Japanese writing such a book. I certainly do not mean that China’s faults should only be exposed by the Chinese; nor do I mean to suggest that Japan has no serious faults of its own. No, what makes me unhappy is the attitude displayed by the “China experts”, which certainly does not redound to Japan’s credit. We know that, if the truth be told, contemporary Greece has somewhat degenerated; but the nations of Europe and the Americas refrain from caustic sarcasm and abuse, out of consideration for the blessings of that ancient culture which have been bestowed upon them. Even if they do record the sad facts, they do so dispassionately, without discrediting their own character.

I have on the desk in front of me a copy of the American Professor Hart’s Greek Religion and its Legacy, a volume from the series Our Debt to Greece and Rome, and seeing it I cannot but be struck by the great difference between the breadth of mind of the Japanese and Westerners. We have no right whatsoever to present ourselves to the Japanese in the guise of creditors: on the contrary, for my part I believe that in some ways we have done them wrong—the influence ofConfucianism, for instance, has done no little harm to the peoples of Japan, Korea and Annam. But from the viewpoint of Japan, China does indeed stand in a position somewhat analogous to that of Greece to Rome. Japan certainly cannot dismiss the influence of China as one would a passing stranger. Seeing the level to which China has now fallen, it is only proper that Japan should feel deep sorrow, but unrestrained glee or amusement hardly seem the appropriate emotions. We do not wish Japan to praise or to defend China. We hope, rather, for her honest and severe admonition, and even her reprimands. But the flippant and vulgar attitude of the “China experts” should be dispensed with if at all possible. Because I deeply admire Japanese culture, I hope that this flippancy will not become one of Japan’s national characteristics.

July 1926