Read about Lei Lei’s summer research on Lu Xun in Shanghai and Beijing…
Shanghai and Beijing 2013
By: Lei Lei, Ph.D. Candidate, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Although I have gone on research trips in the past, equipped with a specific research plan supported by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, I found my trip to Shanghai and Beijing particularly rewarding this time. Before I took off I made plans to visit the Lu Xun Museums in Shanghai and Beijing, as well as the Beijing archive. I was also able to obtain a letter of recommendation from one of my professors at WEAI to prepare me for these visits.
I arrived at Shanghai in a hot summer afternoon. To take advantage of the limited time I had there, I went to the Shanghai Library which was close to where I stayed. The library has a big collection of newly published books on Lu Xun so I took notes of the titles. The next day I went to the Shanghai archive and the Shanghai Lu Xun Museum to look for documents on Lu Xun’s activities in Shanghai. The archive unfortunately doesn’t have much on Lu Xun but the museum hosts photos, handwritten and published documents, as well as letters and artifacts that shed light on Lu Xun’s life in Shanghai before he died there in 1936. Shanghai was really the anchor of Lu Xun’s literary, cultural and political endeavors in the last nine years (1927-1936) of his life. Here was where he organized the League of Left-Wing Writers and compiled numerous collections of ancient Chinese books, as well as woodcut prints. Lu Xun’s close friend, intellectual activist Deng Yanda was also assassinated in Shanghai. The bookstore of the museum has a lot of new publications on Lu Xun. I was able to find a book by Jin Gang called The Books that Lu Xun Read. This book records, categorizes, and annotates the books that were found in Lu Xun’s private book collections and provides important information and insights into Lu Xun’s intellectual “inner chamber”.
My next stop in China was Beijing. Beijing had extremely humid weather when I arrived. Nevertheless, I managed to make a couple of trips to the antique bookstores in Da Shilan (大栅栏.) One particular bookstore caught my attention. It was a store ran by a local Beijingese with a passion for collecting books, newspapers and other forms of media found in Beijing. His collections cover a wide time period and I was excited to find original copies of late Qing and early Republican newspapers. In these newspapers I found interesting commentaries on the First Sino-Japanese War. These articles are important to my research because the First Sino-Japanese War became the seminal historical event that later triggered the new intellectual currents to which Lu Xun belongs.
With the help of WEAI fellowship funding, I was able to make an extremely rewarding research trip to China. I look forward to putting the knowledge and information I collected during the trip into use and I want to thank the WEAI for its support.