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82 TWENTIETH-CENTURY CHINA JIN YONG'S LINGHU CHONG FACES OFF AGAINST Lu XUN'S AH Q: COMPLEMENTS TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF NATIONAL CHARACTER PAUL B. FOSTER, GEORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY [M]y method is to make the reader unable to tell who this character can be apart from himself, so that he cannot back away to become a bystander but is bound to suspect that this may be a portrait of himself if not of every man, and that may start him thinking. Not one of my critics has spotted this, however (Lu Xun 1980b, trans. LXSW, 141). Modem Chinese fiction that is considered New Literature is really quite divorced from the Chinese literary tradition. It can hardly be called Chinese fiction. Ba Jin, Mao Dun, Lu Xunthey all wrote foreign fiction in Chinese (Jin Yong 1992a, trans. Backstrom, 173). This article explores the ways in which Lu Xun's negative critique of national character, crystallized in "A Q zhengzhuan" (The true story of Ah Q; hereafter "True Story"), is complemented by positive, heroic expressions of national character in Jin Yong's epic martial arts fiction.! I argue that Jin Yong's criticism of Lu Xun as a writer of "foreign fiction in Chinese," seen in the introductory quotation above, can be successfully refuted by placing these two authors together in the discursive continuum of the construction of national character. From the analytical view point of the larger discursive project of the construction of the Chinese nation, national identity and character-or "imagining the ! See Leng Xia for Jin Yong's biographical details: Jin Yong was born Zha Liangyong in 1924 in Haining County in Zhejiang province to a prosperous family and went to Hong Kong in 1948 to work for Dagongbao, where he wrote on international issues involving China. In 1952 he started work at Xinwanbao (which belonged to Dagongbao) as the editor of a supplement and wrote movie critiques, as well as some movie scripts. At Xinwanbao he became a good friend of Liang Yusheng, a renowned writer of martial arts fiction. In 1955 he started writing his first book, Shu jian en chou lu (Book and sword, gratitude and revenge), which was published serially in Xinwanbao. In 1959 he started his own newspaper, Mingbao, in which he serially published Shen diao xia Iii (The giant eagle and its companion) and many of his later novels. His newspapers, novels, and the movies and television spin-offs eventually made him very wealthy.© Twentieth-Century) China, Vol. 30, NO.1 (November 2004): 82-117. 2004 lIN YaNG'S LINGHU CHONG FACES OFF AGAINST Lu XUN'S AH Q 83 nation"-examining these seemingly unrelated literary giants together provides a fresh approach literature's role in the construction of the "nation." 2 More specifically, using the character Linghu Chong from Jin Yong's Xiao ao jianghu (The smiling, proud wanderer; hereafter Wanderer) as an example, I demonstrate how Jin Yong's work constitutes a complementary construction to the negative national character depicted in "True Story." I suggest that Jin Yong' s work, first of all, validates Lu Xun' s negative critique by replicating Ah Q characteristics throughout Wanderer's narrative. Moreover, the main character Linghu Chong at times plays a Lu Xun-esque critical consciousness by humorously manipulating elements of Lu Xun' s national character critique. Beyond replication of Ah Q characteristics, however, Wanderer also supplies a host of "positive" manifestations of national character that are lacking or even attacked as "national essence" in Lu Xun' s writings. This positive national character is expressed through Linghu Chong's heroic actions and attitudes, which are firmly grounded in traditional Confucian virtues. Jin Yong's balanced depiction of national character is ultimately consumed by a huge readership that far surpasses the reach of "True Story." The valorization of this positive national character and its broad consumption by the Jin Yong readership represent steps in the construction of national character that form a counterbalance to Lu Xun' s dark, negative critique. Jin Yong's late entry into the canon of twentieth-century Chinese literature provides an opening for the reevaluation of the Chinese national character discourse that has so far been guided by...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 82-117
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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