Although Lu Xun (1881–1936) produced all his literary works in a period that coincided with the heyday of Western modernism (1910–30), scholars both inside and outside China have made few attempts to study them in the international context of the modernist movement. Because of Lu Xun's concern with the fate of the Chinese nation and his professed intention to be its spiritual physician, critical opinion holds that his writings are primarily political and cultural in thematics and realistic in formal representation. The scholarly consensus that he is a master of critical realism remains unchanged. However, Lu Xun's vision of literature and his writing techniques also draw on features common to symbolism, surrealism, supernatural realism, grotesque realism, magic realism, and other experimental forms. Since these are modernist, even postmodern, features, it would be of great interest to explore Lu Xun's relationship to the modernist movement that swept the West in the early twentieth century and the extent to which his writings anticipated postmodernism. I argue that his work should be viewed as a contribution to the international modernist movement from a non-Western, Third World country. Indeed, no history of international modernism is complete if it does not incorporate the incipient modernism that Lu Xun pioneered independently of the West.

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