After reading Lu Xun and Gogol's "Diary of a Madman", it is apparent that the writing style and the choice of themes treated in Lu Xun's "Diary of a Madman" are influenced by Gogol's "Diary of a Madman", but Lu Xun presents the story in a more penetrating and elaborate way to accentuate the themes. Before revealing how Lu Xun incorporates Gogol's ideas into his work, we first examine the contacts between Lu Xun and Gogol.
Lu Xun's writing career began from his indignation and poignancy toward China's underdevelopment and her corrupting tradition. Therefore, he advocated people to learn from foreign countries. He also read many foreign authors' works and introduced them to Chinese readers. Among these authors, Gogol was the one whom he admired most. Starting from February of 1935, he spent almost a year to translate Gogol's work " A Specter's Spirit" ( °èË) and later translated his other works "A Nose"(*@ q) and "Spying on Gogol's mind" (0/00Êoe÷-- "æV). Besides, later when Lu Xun commented on his early works, he said, "the theme of "Diary of a Madman" is to expose the vice in Chinese tradition. Its impact is broader than Gogol's indignation and more concrete than Nietzsche's remote and inscrutable superman."(from the prologue of the second series of the New Chinese Literature) From these evidences, though they had not met each other, Gogol's works indeed had great impact on him especially on his early works.
Though both stories are written in diary form, the concept of time and the narrative methods are presented differently. In Gogol's story, time is expressed in dates. The dates become less understandable when time proceeds and the date in the last entry becomes upside down and inside out. The disorder of the dates reveals the madman's increasing insanity and so indicates he further detaches from the reality and recoils into his own fantasy. Yet in Lu Xun's story, the concept of time is indicated by the moonlight instead of dates and the revelation of his...
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