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The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun's Wild Grass (Yecao) By Nich ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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The Chinese Prose Poem:


Lu Xun’s Yecao

Lu Xun (1881–1936) is widely acknowledged as twentieth-century China’s foremost literary figure. His sixteen-volume corpus includes over a dozen collections of essays, sixty-six poems in the classical style, short fiction, translations, studies of traditional Chinese literary history, reminiscences, prefaces, correspondences, and diaries. Yecao (野草, Wild Grass, a.k.a. Weeds),1 first published in 1927, stands out as Lu Xun’s only collection of modern style poetry. It is a slim volume, comprised of twenty-three prose poems first published serially in the journal Threads of Talk (語絲), from December 1, 1924, to July 2, 1927 (the first six pieces were published in 1924; the next thirteen in 1925; the final four in 1926; and the prose-poetic “Foreword” in 1927). This prose poem collection—a literary masterpiece in the eyes of many—features some of Lu Xun’s most complex and psychologically dense creative works; Lu Xun himself is purported to have said his “entire philosophy is contained in his Yecao.”2

Despite the significance of this collection within Lu Xun’s literary corpus, to date, there is no single comprehensive English-language study of Yecao. This is partly because fiction has been given primacy in most literary studies of Lu Xun and partly because prose poetry (散文詩 sanwen shi) as a genre has generally not been well represented—if at