Critical Context

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 192

Soon after the 1911 revolution, intellectuals called for another revolution to create a more modern literature that would educate and promote regeneration of the Chinese nation. Literature (like society) was looked upon as being bound to the past, using the outmoded classical language and rhetorical devices and containing old-fashioned themes and ideas. Taking Western literature as a general model, a call was issued for writing couched in contemporary language which addressed itself to twentieth century ideas and problems.

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A member of this new group of intellectuals, Lu Hsun is credited with writing the first modern (Western-style) short story in China, “The Diary of a Madman.” Of the rapidly evolving groups, it was the radical intellectuals who became the most influential and who used Russian writers as their models. Lu Hsun quickly became the most famous of these writers, and after his death, he was upheld by the Communists as the leader of the cultural revolution. The True Story of Ah Q was his most famous work. It is interesting, however, that he never joined the Communist Party. As a satirist, he was too independent and critical, apparently, to belong to any particular group.

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