Modern China

This is Humanities: Images of Modern China paper.Here is the question:

The relationship between China tradition and Chinese modernity has been an ongoing concern for Chinese writers since at least the May Fourth period.
Lu Xun famously wrote:
“The people of a weak and backward country, however strong and healthy they may be, can only serve to be made examples of, or to witness such futile spectacles, and it does not really matter how many of them die of illness. The most important thing, therefore, was to change their spirit, and since at the time I felt that literature was the best means to this end, I determined to promote a literary movement.” Lu Xun, “Preface to Call to Arms.”

Working with the following quotations, please comment on each writer’s approach to the idea that a literary movement, or literature itself, should help China make a transition from tradition to modernity. What kind of transition does each of these writers imagine? Whose approach do you find most persuasive?

“But in the village, the atmosphere was changing day by day. People who had just begun to laugh were now all frowns. News was reaching them from town that none of the neighboring silk filatures were opening their doors. It was the same with the houses along the highway. Last year at this time buyers of cocoons were streaming in and out of the village. This year there wasn’t a sign of even half a buyer. In their place came dunning creditors and government tax collectors who promptly froze up if you asked them to take cocoons in payment.” — Mao Dun, “Spring Silkworms.”

“[Xin Dezhi] did not say that everything manager Qian had done was right, but would merely observe that each of the two managers had his good points and that these points ought be combined harmoniously. One could not stick rigidly to old customs, but neither would it do to change too radically. An old and established name was worth preserving, but new business methods ought also to be studied and applied. One ought to lay equal emphasis upon preserving the name and making a profit. But in his heart of hearts, he really had something quite different in mind. He hoped that when manager Qian returned, everything that had been lost would come back with him and the Fortune Silk Store would once again be the old Fortune Silk Store;otherwise, as far as he was concerned, it would be nothing.” — Lao She, “An Old and Established Name.”

“Whenever a boat came to town, the local children’s imaginations flew to the man who did the pulling. And the adults? If they’d hatched a nest of chicks or raised a pig or two, they ‘d entrust them to the towmenton the downstream voyage, to exchange for gold earrings, a few yards of superior black cloth, an earthenware jug of gift-quality soy sauce, or an especially sturdy chimney for their American Standard Oil kerosene lamp. Such thoughts preoccupied most of the housewives.” —Shen Congwen, Border Town, p.14
Be sure to consider each quotation in the context of the whole story, and sure to distinguish between the author’s perspective and the character’s perspective.
Here is the question:

The relationship between China tradition and Chinese modernity has been an ongoing concern for Chinese writers since at least the May Fourth period.
Lu Xun famously wrote:
“The people of a weak and backward country, however strong and healthy they may be, can only serve to be made examples of, or to witness such futile spectacles, and it does not really matter how many of them die of illness. The most important thing, therefore, was to change their spirit, and since at the time I felt that literature was the best means to this end, I determined to promote a literary movement.” Lu Xun, “Preface to Call to Arms.”

Working with the following quotations, please comment on each writer’s approach to the idea that a literary movement, or literature itself, should help China make a transition from tradition to modernity. What kind of transition does each of these writers imagine? Whose approach do you find most persuasive?

“But in the village, the atmosphere was changing day by day. People who had just begun to laugh were now all frowns. News was reaching them from town that none of the neighboring silk filatures were opening their doors. It was the same with the houses along the highway. Last year at this time buyers of cocoons were streaming in and out of the village. This year there wasn’t a sign of even half a buyer. In their place came dunning creditors and government tax collectors who promptly froze up if you asked them to take cocoons in payment.” — Mao Dun, “Spring Silkworms.”

“[Xin Dezhi] did not say that everything manager Qian had done was right, but would merely observe that each of the two managers had his good points and that these points ought be combined harmoniously. One could not stick rigidly to old customs, but neither would it do to change too radically. An old and established name was worth preserving, but new business methods ought also to be studied and applied. One ought to lay equal emphasis upon preserving the name and making a profit. But in his heart of hearts, he really had something quite different in mind. He hoped that when manager Qian returned, everything that had been lost would come back with him and the Fortune Silk Store would once again be the old Fortune Silk Store;otherwise, as far as he was concerned, it would be nothing.” — Lao She, “An Old and Established Name.”

“Whenever a boat came to town, the local children’s imaginations flew to the man who did the pulling. And the adults? If they’d hatched a nest of chicks or raised a pig or two, they ‘d entrust them to the towmenton the downstream voyage, to exchange for gold earrings, a few yards of superior black cloth, an earthenware jug of gift-quality soy sauce, or an especially sturdy chimney for their American Standard Oil kerosene lamp. Such thoughts preoccupied most of the housewives.” —Shen Congwen, Border Town, p.14
Be sure to consider each quotation in the context of the whole story, and sure to distinguish between the author’s perspective and the character’s perspective.

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