Anti-Confucian themes in language reforms in Meiji Japan and early Republican China : reexamining Shimazaki Tôson's "The broken commandment" and Lu Xun's "Diary of a madman"




Guo, Ping

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This thesis examines the anti-Confucian theme in Shimazaki Toson's The Broken Commandment (1906) and Lu Xun's "Diary of a Madman" (1918) as representative examples of the historical necessity of vernacular language. Applying a Marxist literary critique, I argue that the complex resistance against Confucian morality was the main ideological motivation of literary language reforms among literati in Meiji Japan and early Republican China. The choice of a new written language was inspired by a modern concern for individual sensation as opposed to the spiritual constraints of Confucian morality. The prevalence of nationalism and modernity during the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries contributed to the reforms. Integrating socio-historical, biographical and textual analysis, my thesis demonstrates that the vernacular language was both a necessary medium to express inner struggle and an act of rebellion whereby writers abandoned the intellectual world which had been perpetuated by the use of classical language.



confucianism in literature