Love-Letters and Privacy in Modern China: The Intimate Lives of Lu Xun and Xu Guangping

Hardcover | October 15, 2002

byBonnie S. McDougall

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This book opens up three new topics in modern Chinese literary history: the intimate lives of Lu Xun and Xu Guangping as a couple; real and imagined love-letters in modern Chinese literature; and concepts of privacy in China. The scandalous affair between modern China's greatest writer and hisformer student is revealed in their letters to each other between 1925 and 1929. Publication of the letters in a heavily edited version in 1933 was intended partly to profit from a current trend for literary couples to publish their private letters, but another reason was to assert control overtheir love story, taking it away from the gossip-mongers.The biographies in Part I, based on the unedited letters, reveal such hitherto neglected information as Xu Guangping's early tendencies towards lesbianism; her gender reversal games and Lu Xun's willing participation in them; Xu Guangping's two early attempts at suicide; and Lu Xun's attempts toplay down Xu Guangping's political activism and to impress readers with his own militancy. Part II shows how Lu Xun chose to publish their edited letters in the context of current Chinese epistolary fiction and love-letters published by their authors. Part III provides unique evidence on the natureof privacy in modern China through a comparison between the unedited and edited correspondence. Textual evidence shows their intimate secrets about their affairs, their bodies, and their domestic lives; their fear of gossip; their longing for a secluded life together; and their ambivalent attitudestowards the traditional conflict between public service and private or selfish interests. Although it has sometimes been claimed that Chinese culture lacks a sense of privacy, this study reveals the contents, functions, and values of privacy in the early twentieth century.

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From the Publisher

This book opens up three new topics in modern Chinese literary history: the intimate lives of Lu Xun and Xu Guangping as a couple; real and imagined love-letters in modern Chinese literature; and concepts of privacy in China. The scandalous affair between modern China's greatest writer and hisformer student is revealed in their letters...

Bonnie S. McDougall is Professor of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh. During her career she has lectured at the University of Oslo, College of Foreign Affairs, Peking, Harvard University, and the University of Sydney, in addition to holding research positions at a number of international institutions. Her research interests incl...

other books by Bonnie S. McDougall

Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:October 15, 2002Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199256799

ISBN - 13:9780199256792

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Table of Contents

1. IntroductionPart I: Intimate Lives2. Xu Guangping 'In the Front Row': 1898-19253. Lu Xun's 'Live Without Love': 1881-19254. Courtship: March 1925-August 19265. Separation: September 1926-January 19276. Living Together: January 1929-June 19297. Birth and Death: 1929-1968Part II: Real and Imagined Letters8. Traditional Chinese and Western Letters9. Modern Chinese Letters and Epistolary Fiction10. The Making of Letters Between Two11. Frequency, Appearance, and Terms of Address12. Defining Identities, Testing RolesPart III: Searching for Privacy13. Mapping Personal Space14. Sex and Sexual Relationships15. Bodies, Bodily Functions and Activities, and Hygiene16. Domestic Life and Habits17. Family Matters18. Friends and Enemies19. Political Opinions, Observations, and Activities20. Thoughts and Emotions21. Rumour and Gossip22. Secrecy, Seclusion, and Private/Selfish Interests23. Personal Space as PrivacyPart IV: Conclusion24. Revealing to Conceal