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The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  719 ratings  ·  60 reviews

Read the Time magazine review about "the most significant Penguin Classic ever published".

In the early twentieth century, as China came up against the realities of the modern world, Lu Xun effected a shift in Chinese letters away from the ornate, obsequious literature of the aristocrats to the plain, expressive literature of the masses. His celebrated short stories
Kindle Edition, 461 pages
Published October 29th 2009 by Penguin (first published 2009)
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Introduction & Notes, by Julia Lovell
Further Reading
A Note on the Translation
A Note on Chinese Names and Pronunciation



--Diary of a Madman
--Kong Yiji
--A Minor Incident
--A Passing Storm
--My Old Home
--The Real Story of Ah-Q
--Dragon Boat Festival
--The White Light
--A Cat among the Rabbits
--A Comedy of Ducks
--Village Opera

--New Year's Sacrifice
--Upstairs in the Tavern
--A Happy Family
--The Lamp of Eternity
Jan 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best short story collections I have read. Lu Xun's stories are important. It was his mission to help improve China, or rather to help the lot of the common man and woman, to the best of his ability as a writer (how much any writer can impact on society is still a much-debated question). At the time he was writing, China was undergoing a series of extreme upheavals: rebellions, invasions, feudal rule by warlords, the rise of communism and nationalism, civil war, the overturning of an ...more
Asking myself why I hadn't read Lu Xun earlier when I knew he was highly praised and a must-read. He seems to be to China what Natsume Soseki is to Japan. He lived during a time of great social and political change, the Qing dynasty had been toppled and the republic proclaimed, many of his stories deal with this. Some are funny and satirical, others are just sad and gut wrenching.

One story that I found really good dealt with a father trying to take care of his sick son, trying to find
There is no need to share Yiyun Li's bizarre distaste for Lu Xun's rejection of fate (413) in her postface, in order to grasp her problems with his fiction: this self-appointed cultural doctor of modern China delivers a diagnosis of his nation's past and present ailments, but fail (for all his much vaunted leftism) to offer or even suggest any medication:
The poor are stupid and mean, the rich are vain and selfish, and in between a whole cast of ponderous Confucian fools, of half-baked modern
Anna Kļaviņa
The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China: The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China The Complete Fiction of Lu Xun by Lu Xun
ISBN: 9780140455489

The complete fiction of Lu Xun (real name Zhou Shuren, 1881-1936) beginning with a short stand alone story Nostalgia followed by Outcry, 1923 (14 stories), Hesitation, 1926 (11 stories) and Old stories retold, 1936 (8 stories).

Stories in Outcry and Hesitation are powerful and magnificent.

Sadly, I'm not familiar with Chinese legends and tales to fully appreciate the story collection Old stories

I admired and enjoyed reading his "Leaving the Pass" and "Anti-Aggression" since the author subtly characterized those Chinese sages and, I think, Lu Xun's outstanding and exceptional style has long established his brilliance as second to none. For instance:

'Do I find you well, master?' Confucius said, saluting him reverently.
'As ever,' Laozi answered. 'It's been a while. You have been burying yourself in books, no doubt?'
'Dabbling, merely dabbling,' Confucius said modestly. ... (pp.
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Knowing more of and about Chinese history than Chinese literature, which is not to say a great deal, and wanting to read Chinese narrative authors if only in translation, I asked a friend for recommendations. She suggested, inter alia, Lu Xun. I have just finished this Penguin Classics edition of his thirty-nine short stories, apparently his entire oeuvre in fiction (he was also a prolific writer of essays and other kinds of non-fiction). Thus this book contains Diary of a Madman and The Real ...more
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is quite a book. Lu Xun's skill as a storyteller and writer shines through and i cannot help but to be captivated by his stories especially the Real Story of Ah Q which made me laugh at first but then, made me think afterward. His stories are filled with life lessons that can still be useful today.
Arvind Radhakrishnan
An extraordinary collection of stories.Gave me some tremendous insights into the Chinese psyche.Lu Xun is rightly considered to be the founder of Modern Chinese literature.It was wonderful to have a preface written by Xun himself,where he gives the readers a picture of the Chinese literary and cultural scene.Decades of humiliation wrought by Western powers (mainly through the annexation of territories and unequal treaties) had taken their toll on the morale of the Chinese.Lu Xun was also very ...more
My mom has rec'd Lu Xun to me several times, usually with the statement of "He just understands." It's about time I get in touch with this guy.
Aaron Arnold
Even strongly ideological authors know that in order to reach a popular audience, their political ideas have to be layered underneath palatable narratives and relatable characters. Great writers like Steinbeck or Zola did this well; the mark of hacks like Ayn Rand is their inability to let their messages flow smoothly from the story and to say what they mean without shouting at the reader. Lu Xun set himself a real challenge with his work here - short stories can be an even more difficult medium ...more
Mocks pettiness, groupthink and superstition. Advocates science and reason as a remedy.
Spike Gomes
Lu Xun was a difficult author for me, which is somewhat baffling. He's obviously heavily influenced by Gogol, who is a personal favorite, as well as Checkov, who I also have both enjoyed and found edifying. Other reviewers have compared him to Akutagawa which I think is a somewhat apt comparison. Yet for some reason the majority of these short stories just didn't click with me. Either I was left blank-faced or felt that there was some sort of irony or commentary that I should find biting and ...more
The complete fiction of Lu Xun assembled under the title The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China comprises 26 short stories that evoke the authors China from the late nineteenth century through the mid-1920s and 8 modern retellings of Chinese legends and myths. The stories show the great wealth of Chinese culture, but also address and criticise ancient traditions to which people keep clinging although they have lost meaning and even prevent Chinas modernisation, i.e. her adaptation to ...more
Radit Panjapiyakul
At first, it seems like a work in line with Russian writers like Gogol, stories of lower class people and the newly-educated generation written with satirical and black comedy tones. But through the eyes of Lu Xun, the many aspects of Late-Qing dynasty China are presented with powerful clarity, the poverty, the beliefs in superstitions and Chinese medicines, the corruptness of society and all the outdated ideas that he belief are keeping China from moving forward.

This book contains three
Andy Raptis
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing stories, especially The True Story of Ah Q.
Funny and bleak at the same time.
Apart from Chinese scholars it will appeal to everyone who enjoys story with a dark streak.
There are elements of cannibalism, human sacrifice even though you can't call it horror.
Lu Xun may not have been prolific but he deserves the status he has acquired as one of the giants
of modern Chinese literature.
His works have been highly praised by many, such as Mao and Haruki Murakami.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is very good. My favourites were: "Upstairs in the Tavern", "The Loner" and "My Old Home."
Seunghyun Lee
Jun 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Novel would be enough as it is.
It is uncharitable to judge an author by how they have been used by the people after them, either for what I would praise or condemn, I thought, so I am shelving the fact that Lu Xun has been used by Mao Zedong and his party to further their ideals. I already judge writers for everything else; I squirrel away my low-hanging pretensions to being somewhat morally upright (as if it isnt majorly through the influence of my social milieu rather than my not being a dick). So that one Im letting go. ...more
Kobe Bryant
It was fine. I guess village people are the same everywhere
"Nostalgia" and "Madman" gave me very Chekhovian vibes, and I love Chekhov (especially his story endings). But this translation was often very awkward, so I enjoyed reading the more fluid original text in Chinese and used this English translation just to give me extra context for where my Chinese skills were lacking.

Examples of awkward phrasing:
- "...he wasn't particularly downcast, because his room in the temple had been no more uplifting to a man's spirits than the one he currently found
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This volume comprises the complete fictional output of one of Chinas most famous and beloved writers, Lu Xun: three collections of short stories and a single, early story. He also wrote a lot of essays, and I can only surmise that his reputation and stature rests at least partly on those.

The stories in the first collection, especially its first half, are very much politically in intent. Characters are drawn from the unfortunates of what Xun saw as a sick Chinese society. Considering his stories
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short stories, all the fiction Lu Xun wrote. Lu Xun wrote in the first part of the twentieth century with the intention of inciting the Chinese to abandon Confucian mores and embrace Western values. Mao called him "a hero without parallel in our history". The two best are Diary Of A Madman and The Real Story Of Ah-Q. I think Both are allegories about the deficiencies of Confucian society.
Madman begins with a hagiography in Classical Chinese then switches to the vernacular for the story of a
Julian Meynell
This collection includes all of Lu Xun's short fiction. Lu Xun wrote in the early twentieth century and was a leftist intellectual who was embraced by Mao oposthumously, although I am not sure that he is really a Marxist. He does not come across that way in this collection. While roughly a third of the book concerns the retelling of traditional Chinese tales, Lu Xun is very much a modern Western writer stylistically speaking. His style feels very much in line with contemporary Western writers. ...more
Ian McHugh
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this hugely. Lu Xun's anger and resentment comes through in each story and has resonances to modern day frustrations with China. "Diary of Madmen" where Lu Xun equates traditional Chinese Confuscianism to to a destructive, cannibalistic, monster was one of the highlights for me. Knowing a little of the history of the period he wrote in will obviously help understanding but the critique could equally be leveled at any 'traditional' set of beliefs today - "consumerism" in Modern China ...more
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, fiction
Overall I found the short stories of Lu Xun to be both delightful and incredibly informative of early 20th century Chinese society. Throughout his stories Xun allows the reader to become part of different rural Chinese villages and see the impact that the coming Revolution was having on the lives of the regular Chinese people. Without taking sides Xun points out the follies of both camps and seems to want to genuinely record the shift in paradigm that the imminent revolution was causing. Xun ...more
Oct 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Lu Xun after my curiosity was roused by mention of him in Yu Hua's stories in 'China in Ten Words' of his childhood experiences during the cultural revolution. Clearly Lu Xun was influential - I wanted to read for myself. It has been enormously interesting finding out about Lu Xun's life, talking with local acquaintances who had to study his work in school, visiting his former home and museum in Shanghai, and contemplating his impact through the ever changing lenses of the last fifty ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable collection of short stories, on least due to its variety of length, style and themes. The centrepiece, Ah-Q's foolish adventures, is an entertaining piece of Cervantian ridicule and the more famous Diary of a Madman is a claustrophobic Kafka-esque nightmare about a man who believes everyone is out to eat him. There are tiny, very modern feeling snapshots such as the man feeling anger because his city commute is delayed when his moped taxi hits an old woman or the Russian whose ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are a lot of other people on here who have already espoused Lu Xun's importance to Chinese and World Literature, so I'll list some of my favorite stories across the volume. My favorites are "Ah Q", "New Year's Sacrifice", "Soap", "In Memoriam", and "The Divorce". The best thing about this collection is that while those are my favorites, none of the stories in this collection are awful, and they all clearly communicate their purpose to the audience. Unfortunately, Lu Xun is not well known ...more
Jason Dias
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chairman Mao used to say, if there's one person who knows China, it Mao Tse-Tung. And if there are two people who know China, the second is Lu Xun.

Lu Xun was critical of his own culture. he was educated abroad and, thus, exposed to advances in medicine and technology. He came home to China and found people to be backwards, ignorant, superstitious, and resistant to any kind of change.

These stories are his insider-perspective, a sometimes scathing critique of the people he observed around him.
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Xun Lu (鲁迅) or Hsün Lu (Wade-Giles), was the pen name of Zhou Shuren (September 25, 1881 October 19, 1936), a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in Vernacular Chinese as well as Classical Chinese, Lu Xun was a novelist, editor, translator, literary critic, essayist, and poet. In the 1930s he became the titular head of the League of Left-Wing Writers in Shanghai.

For the Chinese

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