This unique street in Shanghai is a chest of history, it attracted the intellects of Shanghai back in the 1920s and 30s with numerous Chinese writers moving in, many key left-wing writers such as Ding Ling, Qu Qiubai, Guo Moruo, Mao Dun, Lu Xun and Ye Shengtao.
Today, the neighborhood attracts tourists and locals, shops and bars attracting people. The history hasn’t been concealed and you will be able to see the past, street signs and statues will point them out to you.
Take a look at this website for a guided tour of the area – before you go!
Some information on one of the major writers whose history is associated to the area:
Lu Xun (1881-1936)Lu Xun was a man obsessed with curing his country. In his early years, he took the mission literally and decided to become a doctor. Believing traditional Chinese medicine to be a scam and a superstition that had hastened the death of his ill father, Lu Xun began the then rare process of obtaining a Western education, which put him in contact with Western science, literature and philosophy. This eventually lead him to study in Japan, where he would have finished his studies if it weren’t for an epiphany he experienced when looking at slides his teacher brought showing attrocities from the Russo-Japanese War. The pictures showed Japanese soldiers seconds away from shooting a supposed Chinese spy, but what horrified him was that the crowd of Chinese that surrounded the spectacle looked on with complete indifference, or even passive interest, in their own countryman’s death. Lu Xun would later write that this picture convinced him that Chinese society suffered most pressingly from a spiritual sickness that he would try his best to document and cure by returning to China to become a writer.
His first work of lasting fame was a short story “A Madman’s Diary,” published in 1918, some years after the establishment of the Republic of China. The story is an allegory of the viciousness of Chinese society, wherein a man slowly realizes the people in his village and even his family are cannibals. He followed this with perhaps his best known work The True Story of Ah Q, a novella that satirized the many faults Lu Xun saw in his country’s character. In 1927, he moved to Shanghai, where he would live for the rest of his life, and continued to write essays and short stories. He also founded, with encouragement from the Communist Party, the League of Left-Wing Writers, but he would later renounce his membership when he felt the group had become enthralled in leftist doctrine, which valued art only insofar as it promoted leftist politics (you won’t find this piece of information anywhere on Duolun Street, where the League was located). In truth, Lu Xun was disappointed with both sides of the Chinese political spectrum. He believed the Nationalist government to be a failure. He eventually grew to believe China’s problems were beyond the help of politics and probably had something more to do with ineradicable defects of human nature – like Dickens’ diagnosis of his own country.
Lu Xun died with a rather dim view of his own efforts to correct these defects, but Mao Zedong was one person who disagreed. He believed Lu Xun to be the greatest writer of modern China, and his writings have been a part of the curriculum for Chinese students ever since, under the perspective that Lu Xun’s works were a critique of feudal society before the communists changed everything “for the better.” He remains by far the most famous writer of modern China, and many of his most famous books are available in English translation.
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