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Chinese National Revitalization and Social Darwinism in Lu Xun’s Work Open Access


Other title
Chinese nationalism
Lu Xun
social Darwinism
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Yuanhai, Zhu
Supervisor and department
S. Ilnytzkyj, Oleh (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Fried, Daniel (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies/Eastern Asian Studies)
Varsava, Jerry (English/Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Examining committee member and department
S. Ilnytzkyj, Oleh (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Varsava, Jerry (English/Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Ruétalo, Victoria (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Fried, Daniel (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies/Eastern Asian Studies)
Sywenky, Irene (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Comparative Literature

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis explores decolonizing nationalism in early 20th century China through its literary embodiment. The topic in the thesis is Lu Xun, a canonical modern Chinese realist whose work is usually and widely discussed in scholarly works on Chinese literature and Chinese history in this period. Meanwhile, late 19th century and early 20th century, as the only semi-post-colonial period in China, has been investigated by many scholars via the theoretical lens of post-colonialism. The intellectual experience in China during this period is usually featured by the encounters between Eastern and Western intellectual worlds, the translation and appropriation of Western texts in the domestic Chinese intellectual world. In this view, Lu Xun’s work if often explored through his individualism which is in debt to Nietzsche, as well as other western romanticists and existentialists. My research purpose is to reinvestigate several central topics in Lu Xun’s thought, like the diagnosis of the Chinese national character, the post-colonial trauma, the appropriation of Nietzsche and the critique of imperialism and colonization. These factors are intertwined with each other in Lu Xun’s work and embodied the historical situation in which the Chinese decolonizing nationalism is being bred and developed. Furthermore, by showing how Lu Xun’s appropriation of Nietzsche falls short of but also challenges its original purport, the thesis demonstrates the critique of imperialism that Chinese decolonizing nationalism initiates, as well as the aftermath which it brings to modern China. In the conclusion, I argue that Chinese nationalism, as a historical continuum which ranges from the late 19th century until now, in fact falls short of the blueprint of it imagined by Lu Xun, in which an independent modern nation is achieved based upon the realization of the liberty and dignity of each of its subjects. On the contrary, the result is that the material improvement of it conceals its inside tyranny.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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