Wednesday, May 25, 2011

立论 Proposition by 鲁迅 Luxun

This story is called proposition and is written by one of the most famous chinese authors of the 20th century, Luxun (September 25, 1881-October 19th, 1936). Luxun rose to fame after the May Forth Movement and was highly commended by the communist party for his works. 

This story is about a man's dream in a elementary school setting, which expresses what is considered acceptable socially to say and do. 

I originally got this link off of the internet at

立论 by 鲁迅
Proposition by LuXun
I dreamt I was in the elementary school lecture hall writing an essay, facing the teacher to ask for help with the methods of a proposition.

“Hard!” said the teacher staring down at me through his glasses, he looked at me and spoke.

“I’ll tell you one thing-

“All of the family members will be happy if a boy is born to them.

 During the time of a full moon, coming out holding the child for others to see, they were probably looking for a good omen.

“One said: ‘In the future this child will be rich.’ Thereupon he received words of thanks

“One said: This child will die in the future.’ Thereupon he received everyone’s beating.

Speaking of death is inevitable, while speaking of fortune will earn you praise. Speaking lies will get you good things, but speaking of the inevitable will get you beaten. You...”

“I don't want to lie, or get beaten. So if it’s like this, teacher, what should I say?”

“那么,你得说:‘啊呀!这孩子呵!您瞧!那么……。阿唷!哈哈!Heh ehehe he he he!’”
“Well, you should say: “Aiya! This child! Look at him! Like this... .Aiyo! Haha! Heh e! he, he he he he!”


*Translating this story was interesting...I got confused at one point thinking that there was more to it that accidentally got deleted or something, but then I realized that it was written in a choppy style, just like that of a real dream. The idea behind this dream is that of our society's tendency to refrain from speaking the truth if it is not what others want to hear. Death is a very real thing, but people prefer to not think about that truth and instead will focus on more positive aspects such as riches. Death is inevitable and everyone will suffer it but riches is something that only comes to few. So if we were to say that every child we meet will become rich is a lie, but much better received then saying that one day your child will die despite the fact that it is true.  This has even developed to the state that being "polite" now a days is considered refraining from certain truths and speaking some of these nice little lies. The narrator struggles with this fact, not wanting to submit to societies tendency to lie while still not getting "punished" for saying these "bad" truths. So, his teacher tells him basically to say nothing of importance (hence the Aiya and hehehe's) so that you will not get beaten and also at the same time not be a liar. 

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