The Real Story of Ah Q and Other Tales of China (阿Q正传)
By Lu Xun
Born Zhou Shuren in Shaoxing in 1881, Lu Xun was the first Chinese author to abandon the classical language of the elite used for centuries, in favour of a vernacular style that could be understood by the majority. He personified the spirit of the age; he earned the sobriquet 'the father of modern literature', which can still be found today on the walls of a museum built in his honour
in Hongkou district.
As well as being a novelist, Lu was an editor, translator, literary critic and poet. Following the collapse of the imperial system in 1911, his work converged to document the impact on Chinese society. His stories assembled a powerful portrait of the superstition, poverty and complacency that he witnessed and had an instrumental role in his decision to become head of the League of Left-Wing Writers in Shanghai in the 1930s.
The True Story of Ah Q was his first story written in vernacular Chinese and is considered his greatest work, although at the time it was released under the pen name Ba Ren ('crude person'). The plot centres on the titular Ah-Q, your quintessential foolhardy everyman. It charts his hapless encounters as he strives to improve his lot in life, only to discover his own shortcomings. The novel is satire at its most biting and personifies all that Lu saw wrong with the country at the time.
Upon the publication of Julia Lovell
’s 2011 translation into English, Time
magazine declared Ah Q '
the most significant Penguin Classic ever published'. The book is an essential read for anyone who wishes to understand the roots of modern Chinese literature, and why China was ripe for revolution in Lu’s time.
The True Story of Ah Q
is available from Amazon
priced at 70.49RMB.