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Literary RemainsDeath, Trauma, and Lu Xun's Refusal to Mourn$
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Eileen J. Cheng

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835958

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835958.001.0001

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The Limits of Subjectivity

The Limits of Subjectivity

Death, Trauma, and the Refusal to Mourn

(p.19) 1 The Limits of Subjectivity
Literary Remains

Eileen J. Cheng

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores Lu Xun's fascination with death and his “refusal to mourn” through a critical reading of some of his autobiographical essays. His preface to Call to Arms (1922) can be seen as an allegory of failure—that is, the failure of literature to deal ethically with the suffering and death of others, demonstrated through what Lu Xun portrays as a belated recognition of his own imbrication within an elite culture and complicity in violent acts of representation. The form of his autobiographical accounts reflects a conscious pursuit of an alternative form of writing that validates a self-critical engagement with one's historical and personal past, even as it exposes the limitations of the writing subject and narrative representation itself.

Keywords:   Lu Xun, death, suffering, autobiographical essays, Call to Arms, elite culture, alternative writing

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