Wild Grass/Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk

Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk by Lu Xun
Translated by Eileen J. Cheng and edited by Theodore Huters  (Harvard University Press, 2022)

Book Description

This captivating translation assembles two volumes by Lu Xun, the founder of modern Chinese literature and one of East Asia’s most important thinkers at the turn of the twentieth century. Wild Grass and Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk represent a pinnacle of achievement alongside Lu Xun’s famed short stories.

In Wild Grass, a collection of twenty-three experimental pieces, surreal scenes come alive through haunting language and vivid imagery. These are landscapes populated by ghosts, talking animals, and sentient plants, where a protagonist might come face-to-face with their own corpse. By depicting the common struggle of real and imagined creatures to survive in an inhospitable world, Lu Xun asks the deceptively simple question, “What does it mean to be human?”

Alongside Wild Grass is Morning Blossoms Gathered at Dusk, a memoir in eight essays capturing the literary master’s formative years and featuring a motley cast of dislocated characters—children, servants, outcasts, the dead and the dying. Giving voice to vulnerable subjects and depicting their hopes and despair as they negotiate an unforgiving existence, Morning Blossoms affirms the value of all beings and elucidates a central predicament of the human condition: feeling without a home in the world.

Beautifully translated and introduced by Eileen J. Cheng, these lyrical texts blur the line between autobiography and literary fiction. Together the two collections provide a new window into Lu Xun’s mind and his quest to find beauty and meaning in a cruel and unjust world.

Eileen J. Cheng is Professor of Chinese at Pomona College. She is author of Literary Remains: Death, Trauma, and Lu Xun’s Refusal to Mourn and coeditor of Jottings under Lamplight, a collection of Lu Xun’s essays.

Theodore Huters is Professor Emeritus of Chinese at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Chief Editor of Renditions, the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s translation journal. He is author of Bringing the World Home: Appropriations of the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China, editor of Wang Hui’s China’s New Order, and coeditor of Revolutionary Literature in China.

Reviews

“In this fresh and vivid translation, we behold an amazing mind at work. Rich, daring, haunting, and personal, these volumes are nothing short of revelatory.”—Gish Jen

“Two unique works from Lu Xun’s oeuvre—an experiment in prose poetry partially inspired by Baudelaire, Nietzsche, and Buddhism, and a personal memoir that compares with Benjamin’s Berlin Childhood—are rendered in lucid and very readable English and collected in one volume, together with comprehensive and insightful introductions. A sizable achievement from an experienced translator and Lu Xun scholar.”—Leo Ou-fan Lee

“A very timely publication. The first translation of these works in over four decades offers a more accurate, fluent rendering that will be welcomed by students of Chinese literature and enjoyed by many general readers. Explanatory footnotes throughout will also be a great help to those new to Lu Xun.”—Carlos Rojas

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