Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung

by Carolyn Brown

Reviews

"An amply annotated, firmly grounded, and compelling close reading of Lu Xun’s short stories from the perspective of Jungian psychoanalysis. This book is also a refreshing demonstration of how psychoanalysis can provide a new dimension of access to Lu Xun’s critical insight into the problems of the Chinese psyche vis-à-vis the social discourse of his age. The author shows familiarity with the main trends in Western Lu Xun studies, from the earlier works of Leo Ou-fan Lee, Theodore Huters, and Marston Anderson, to more recent critiques by Lydia Liu and Ming Dong Gu, just to name a few. Brown is concerned with what makes Lu Xun tick, not the authorial intention of his creative works, but his own inner workings as he grapples with issues of the Chinese people’s psyche, issues he himself faces and works out through his writing. " —MCLC

"An in-depth structural analysis of the fictional writings of a founder of modern Chinese literature. Tracking correspondences between the architecture of Lu Xun’s short stories and Jung’s model of the psyche, Brown turns an analytic eye to recurring compositional patterns. Although Lu Xun did not describe his method as explicitly psychoanalytic, Brown convincingly reads the collective mindset of the time as the author’s psychoanalytic subject. ... Brown unveils culturally specific uses of opposites in the stories, expressed through narrative voices, characters or social groups living in small communities. She interprets these conflicts along Jungian lines, locating (what she calls) a dialogue between an ‘ego’ and ‘shadow’ forces embedded in Lu Xun’s “nuanced manipulation of doubles.” Unlike the good/evil pairing characteristic of Western literature (informed by Christian preconceptions), Lu Xun weaves his stories around social binaries: traditional/modern; elite/peasant; urban/rural; male/female.... the book will engage scholars of Chinese literature and psychologically informed readers alike. Carolyn Brown’s singular approach richly complements established scholarship on Lu Xun. Reading Lu Xun through Carl Jung will likely reside among the most significant contributions to the corpus." —Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche

“The book approaches Lu Xun’s stories differently. Carolyn T. Brown brings an African American intellectual’s perspective as well as a Jungian one to bear on her analysis of Lu Xun’s fiction, and this is valuable in my view. This book will appeal to scholars of comparative literature, ethnic studies, as well as Chinese Studies. I have colleagues in China who would be very interested in and impressed by it as well.” —Jon von Kowallis, Professor and Chair of Chinese Studies, University of New South Wales

“The application of Carl Jung’s structural views and insights to the analysis of Lu Xun has not been previously proposed or carried out. In this clear, well-organized, and accessible study, Carolyn T. Brown presents a carefully laid-out argument for reading Lu Xun through Jungian principles. One paradox for readers of Lu Xun’s fiction is that the world he captured has, on the one hand, changed beyond recognition and on the other hand, is wholly recognizable in terms of human and political relations. As such, readers often need guidance on both points. This book offers sensible, sensitive guidance, and its succinct coverage of every one of Lu Xun’s work of short fiction is an asset.” —Eva Shan Chou, Professor and Chair, Department of English, Baruch College, City University of New York

“This is truly a great contribution not only to Lu Xun studies but also to modern Chinese intellectual history. The approach is seminal and convincing. The arguments based on close reading of the texts are careful, coherent, and revealing. The meticulous analysis of the four images and their inner entanglement is practically unassailable. In particular, the interpretation is not a projective imagination but the revelation of the inner logic encoded in the texts, not something read into the texts but underlying the texts. What Carolyn T. Brown has accomplished in this book is akin to a highly skilled doctor who makes an accurate etiological diagnosis.” —Peng Guoxiang, Qiu Shi Distinguished Professor of Chinese Philosophy, Intellectual History and Religions, Zhejiang University

“I am impressed by this book by Carolyn T. Brown, who has been wise to choose Jung's version of psychoanalysis to interpret Lu Xun's short stories. As she rightly points out, the similarities in the structure of thought common to Friedrich Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and Lu Xun are striking. Brown's reading of Lu Xun is convincing, especially her chapter on 'The True Story of Ah Q' where she brings in the analyses of Rene Girard and Erich Neumann to deepen our understanding of the story.” —Yu Ying-shih, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies and History, Princeton University

“This book is a remarkable achievement of scholarship, hermeneutic interpretation, integration of disciplinary lenses. Carolyn T. Brown’s work in this book embodies the internal dialogue, what the Jungians in Zurich called the Auseinandersetzung, the give and take dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious which furthers both healing and development. Brown’s applications of Jung’s theories are valid and appropriate. Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung will help readers gain fresh, new perspectives in the appreciation of Lu Xun’s works, as well as a better understanding of Jung and his genuine applicability to the movements of life.” —James Hollis, PhD, Executive Director, Jung Society of Washington


 

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