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Translatedby YangXian;,iand CladysYang

Two brothers,whosenamesI need not rnention here, were both good friends of mine in high school;but aftera separationof manyyearswe graduallylost touch. Sometime agoI happenedto hearthat one of them wasseriouslyill, and since I wasgoing back to my old home, I brokemy iourney to call on them. I sawonly one,however,who told me that the invalid washis younger brother. "l appreciateyour coming such a long way to seeus," he said, "but my brother recoveredsometime agoand hasgone elsewhereto takeup an official post."Then, laughing,he producedtwo volumesof his brother'sdiary saying that from thesethe nahlre of his pastillness could be seenand there wasno harm in showingthem to an old friend.I tookthe diaryaway,readit through, and found that he hadsufferedfrom aform of persecutioncomplex.The writing wasmostconfusedand incoherent,and he had mademany wild statements; moreoverhe had omitted to giveany dates,sothat only by the color of the ink and the differencesin the writing could one tell that it wasnot all wriften at one time. Certain sections,however,werenot altogetherdisconnecteda, nd I havecopiedout a part to serveasa subjectfor medical research.I havenot altereda singleillogicalityin the diaryand havechangedonly thenames,even though the peoplereferredto areall conntryfolk, unknownto the world and of no consequenceA. sfor the title, it rvaschosenby thediaristhimselfafterhis recoverya, nd I did not charrgeit.


Tonightthe moon isverybright.

Lu Xun: A Madman's Diary


I havenotseenit foroverthirtyyearss, otodaywhenI sawit I feltin u'usually

high spirits.I beginto realizethat dLrringthe pastthirty-ocldyearsI havebeen in the dark;but now I must be extremelycareful.otherwise why shotrldthe Zhaos'doghavelookedat me twice?

I havereasonfor nrv fear.


Tonightthereis no moon at all, I know that this isa badornen.This rnor'ing

wlrenI wentout cautiouslyM, r.zhao hada strangelook in hiseyesa, sif he wereafraidof me, as if he wantedto murder me. There weresevenor eight

otherswho discussedme in a whisper.And theywereafraidof n.ryseeingthem. So,indeed,wereall the peopleI passedT. he fiercestanong therngrin'ed at

me, whereuponI shiveredfrorn headto foot,knowingthat tlreir preparations werecomplete.

I wasnot afraid,howeverb, ut continuedon my way.A groupof childrenin front werealsodiscussingne, while their facestoo wereghastlypale.I won- deredwhatgrudgethesechildrencorrldhaveagainstme to rnakethem behave

like this.I couldnot helpcallingout, "Tell mel" But thentheyranawav.

I wonderwhatgrudgeMr. Zhaohasagainstme,whatgrudgethepeopleon

the roadhaveagainstme. I can think of 'othing exceptthattwentyvearsagoI trod on Mr. Gu liu's' old ledgers,ar.rdMr. Gu wasmostdispleasedA. lthough

Mr. Zhao doesnot know him, he mr,rsht aveheardtalk of this a'd decidedto avengehim, thushe isconspiringagainsmt e with thepeopleon theroad.But tlren whatof the children?At that time theywerenot yetborn,sowhy should theyeyeme so strangelytoday,asif theywereafraidof me, asif theywanted to murderrne?This reallyfrightensme, it issobewilderinga'd upsetting.

I know.They musthavelearnedthis from their parents!


I can't sleepat night. Evervthingrequirescarefulconsideratior.irf one is to understandit.

Thosepeople,someof whom havebeenpilloriedby the rnagistrates,lapped in the faceby the local gentry,had their wivestakenawayby bailiffsor their parentsdrivento suicideby creditors,neverlookedasfrightenedand asfierce then astheydid yesterday.

t. The cltaractersCu fiu nrearr "old." This refersto tlreage-oldhiston of feudalisnrin China.

l o

F I C T I O N , r g l 8 - r 9 4 9

The mostextraordinarything wasthat woman on the streetyesterdaywho wasspankingher son. "Little devil!" shecried. "I'm soangryI could eatyou!" Yetall the time it wasme shewaslookingat. I gavea start,unableto hide my alarm.Then all thoselong-toothedpeoplewith livid facesbeganto hoot with laughter.Old Chen hurriedforwardand draggedme home. He draggedrnehome.The folk athomeall pretendednot to knowme;they had the samelook in their eyesasall the others.When I went into the study, theylockedme in asif coopingrrpa chickenor a duck.This incidentleft me evenmore bewildered.

A few daysagoa tenantof oursfrom Wolf Cub Village cameto reportthe

failureof thecropsandtold rnyelderbrotherthata notoriouscharacterin their villagehad been beatento death;then somepeoplehad takenout his heart and liver, fried them in oil, and eatenthem as a meansof increasingtheir courage.When I interrupted,the tenantand my brotherboth staredat me. Only todayhaveI realizedthat theyhad exactlythe samelook in their eyesas thosepeopleoutside. fust to think of it setsme shiveringfrom the crownof my headto the soles of my feet. They eathuman beings,sotheymayeatrne.

I see that the woman's "eat yon," the laughter of those long-toothed people with livid faces,and the tenant'sstory the other day are obviously secretsigns.I realizeall the poison in their speech,all the daggersin their laughter.Their teeth are white and glistenimg:they use theseteeth to eat


Evidently,althoughI am notabadman,eversinceI kod on Mr. Gu'sledgers it has been touch-and-gowith me. They seem to have secretsthat I cannot guessa, ndoncetheyareangrytheywill callanyoneabadcharacterI. remember when my elderbrothertaughtrneto rvritecornpositionsn, o matterhow good a man was,if I producedargumentsto tlre contraryhe would mark that passage to showhisapproval;while if I excnsedevildoershe would say, "Good foryou, that showsoriginality."How can I possiblyguesstheir secretthoughts-espe- cially when theyarereadyto eatpeople? Everything requirescareful considerationif one is to understandit. In ancienttimes,asI recollect,peopleoften atehuman beings,but I am rather hazy about it. I tried to look this trp, but my.historyhasno chronologyand scrawledall overeachpageare the words "Cor.rfucian Virtue and Morality." SinceI could not sleepanyway,I readintently half the night until I beganto 'fhe

seewordsbetweenthe liues. "Eat people."

All thesewordswrittenin tlrebook,all the wordsspokenby our tenant,eye me quizzicallywith an er.rigrnatiscnrile.

whole bookwasfilled with the two words-


A Madnnn's Diary



In the rnorningI satquietlyfor sornetime.old chen broughtin lunch:one bowl of 'egetables,ore borvlof stearr.refdish.The eyesof the fishu,erewhite andhard,anditsmouthwasopen just likethosepeoplewhowanttoeathurnan beings.Aftera fewnrouthfulsI cou]dnot tell whethertheslipperynrorselswere fishor hunranflesl.rs,oI broughtit all up.

I said, "Old Chen, tell my brotherthat I feel quite suffocatedand want to havea stlollin thegarden."old Chensaidnothingbut wentont,andpresently he camebackandopenedthegate.

I did not nrove,but watchedto seehowtheywoulcltreatrne,feelingcertain thattheywotrldnot letme go.Sureenough!My elderbrothcrcarneslowlvout,

leadinganold nran.'l'l.rerweasa murderousgleanrirrhiseyesa, ndfearingihat

I wouldseeit he loweredhisheacls, tealingsideglancesat nrefronrbehinchl is glasses. 'You

seen verywell today,"saidn.rybrother. "Yes," saidI. "l haveinvitedIVIr.He heretodayto examineyou."

"All right," I replied.Actually I krrewquite well that this old man rvasthe executionerin disguise!Feelingmy pulsewassirnplya pretextfor him to see hor.vfat I was,for this rvouldentitlehim to a shareof n-ryflesh.Still, I wasnot afraid.Although I do not eatmen rny corlrageisgreatertl.rantheirs.I held out rny two fiststo seewhat he would do. The old man satdown,closedhis eyes, fumbledforsometinre,rer.nainedn'rotionlesfsorawhile,thenopenedhisshiftv

eyesand saicl, "Don't let vour irnaginationnrn awaywith you. Restquietlyfor

a few days,and vou will be better." Dorr't let your irr.raginationnrn awaywith votrl Rest<luietlyfor a fewdays! By fattcningme of coursethey'll havemore to eat.But what goodwill it do rne?How can it be "better"? The wholelot of thenrwantingto eatpeopleyet stealthilytrvingto keeprrpappeararrcenso,tdaringto do it outright,wasreally

enoughto rnakeme die of laughter.I couldr.r'htelp it, I nearlysplitrnysides,

I wassoamused.I knew that this laughtervoicedcorlrageand integrity.Both the old rnanand rny brothertumed pale,awedby n.rycotrrageand integrity. But rny courage just makesthem all the moreeagerto eatlne, to acquire sorneof my couragefor thernselves. 'Ihe old rnan went orrt of the gate,but beforehe l.radgorrefar he saidto my brotherin a low voice, "'lb be eatenat once!"My brothernodded.So yotrare in it too!This stupendousdiscovery, thoughit carneasa shock,isno rnorethanI nrightexpect:theaccornplicein eatingrne is rnv elderbrother! The eaterof hnnranfleshis my elderbrother!


arnthe yorlnger brotherof

an eatcrof human flesh!


who will be eatenby others,am the y-oulrgebrrotherof an eaterof hrman


12 FrcTroN,rgl8-r949


Thesefew daysI havebeenthinking again:supposethatold man werenot an executionerin disguiseb, ut a realdoctor;he would be nonethelessan eaterof humanfesh.That bookon herbsbyhispredecessoLri Shizhen2statesexplicitly that men'sfleshcan be boiled and eaten;how then can he still denythat he eatsmen? fu for my elderbrother,I havealsogoodreasonto suspecthim. When he wasteachingme, he told me himself, "People exchangetheirsonsto eat."3And

oncein discussinga badman he saidthat not onlydid the fellowdeserveto be killed, he should "have his flesheatenand his hide sleptot-t."I wasstillyoung at the time, and for quite a while my heartbeatfaster.That storyour tenant from Wolf Cub Villagetold the otherdayaborrteatinga man'sheartand liver

didn't surprisehim at all-he

cruel asbefore.Sinceit ispossibleto "exchange sonsto eat,"thenanythingcan be exchangeda, nyonecan be eaten.In the pastI simplylistenedto his expla- nationsand let it go at that;now I kuou'that when he gaveme theseexplana-

tions,not onlywastherehurnanfatatthe comerof hislips,but hiswholeheart wasseton eatingmen.

kept nodding his head.He is evidently iust as


Pitch-darkI.don'tknowwhetherit isdayor night,TheZhaos'doghasstarted barkingagair-r. Thefiercenesosf alion,thetinriditvofa rabbitt,hecraftinesosf afox


I know their way:they are not preparedto kill outright,nor would theydare,

for fear of the consequences.Insteadthey havebandedtogetherand settraps everywhere,to force rne to kill rnyself.The behaviorof the men and women in the streeta few daysago and my elder brother'sattitude theselastfew days

makeit quite obvious.What theylike bestis for a man to takeoff his belt and hanghimselffrom a bearn,for then thevcan enioytheir hearts'desirewithout being blamedfor rnurder.Naturallythat delightsthem and setsthem roaring with laughter.On the other hand, if a rnan is frightenedor worriedto death, thoughthat makeshirn ratherthirr,theystill nod in approval.

z. Farnouspharmacologist (r5r&-r593). It is not statedinhis Compndium

of Materia Medica

that human fleshcorrldbe rrsedasa nredicine;this *es one of the delusionsof the madman. 3. The ancienthistoricalrecordZuo zhuanstatesthat during a siegein 488 B.C. the besieged were so fanrishedthat they "exchanged their sottsto eat."

LuXun:AMadman'sDiary rl,

They only eatdeadflesh!I rememberreadingsomewhereo[a hideousbeast with an uglv look ir-rits eyecalled "hyena," which ofteneatsdeadflesh.Even the largestbonesit crunchesinto fragmentsandswallowst;he merethoughtof thisrnakesyourhair standon end.Hyenasarerelatedto wolves,wolvesbelong

to the caninespeciesT. 'heotherdaVthe Zhaos'dogeyedme severatlimes:it

is obviouslyin the plot too astheir accomplice.The old man'seyeswerecast

down,but thatdid not deceiveme. 'fhe

He'sa man too,sowh,visn'the me?Doesforceof habitblind a

mostdeplorableis my elderbrother afraid,why is he plotting with othersto eat

man to what'swrong?Or is he so heartless thathe will knowinglycommit a crime?


ln cursit]gman-eatersI, shallstartwith my brother.In dissuadingman-eaters,

shallstartwith him too. Actuallysuchargumentsshouldhaveconvincedthem long ago' Suddenlysomeonecame in. He wasonly abouttwentyyearsold and I did not seehis featuresveryclearly.His facewaswreathedin smiles,but wher.rhe noddedto me his smiledidn't seemgeuuine.I askedhim, "ls it rightto eat



humanbeings?" Stillsmiling,he replied, "When thereisno farninehowcanoneeathuman

beings?" I realizedat oncehe wasoneof them;but stillI summonedup courageto repeatmy question:

"ls it right?" "What tilakesyou asksucha thing?You reallyare' ' fond of a loke' ' ' ' It

isveryfine today."


is fine, and the moon isverybright.But I wantto askyou:Is it right?"

He lookeddisconcertedand muttered, "No "No? 'l'hen why do theystill do it?" "What areyou talkingabout?" ,.what am I talkingabout?They areeatingmen now in wolf cub village, and you can seeit written all overthe books,in freshred ink'"


' '"

Hisexpressionchanged.He grewghastlypale. "lt maybeso,"he said,staring "



at me. "That'sthe wayit'salwaysbeen "Doesthat makeit right?"

"l refuseto discussit with you.Anyway,youshouldn'ttalkaboutit. It'swrong

for anyoneto talk aboutit."

I leapedup and openedmy eyeswide, but the man had vanished.I was

soakedwith sweat.He wasmuch youngerthan nry elderbrother,but evenso he wasin it. He mr.rsht avebeentaughtby his parents.ArrdI am afraidhe has

alreadytaughthis son;that is why eventhe childrenlook at me sofiercely.





all eyeeachotherwith the deepestsuspicion

. How comfortablelife would be for thenrif tlreycould rid themselvesof such obsessionasndgo to work,walk,eat,andsleepateaseT. hey haveonly thisone stepto take.Yetfathersard sons,husbandsanclwives,brothersf,riends,teachers and students,swornenemies,and eve' strangersh,aveall ioined in this con-

spiracy,discouragingand preventingeaclrotlrerfrom takingthisstep.

to eat men, at the sametirne afraidof beingeatenthemselvest,hey


l o

Early this morning I went to find mv elder brother.He wasstandingoutside thehall doorlookingattheskywhe' I walkecul p behindhim, standingietween

hirn and the door,and addressedhi'r with exceptionapl oiseand polit".,.rr, "Brother, I havesornethingto sayto vou."

"Go aheadthen." He turnedquickly towardrne,nodding.


nothing n*rch, but I find it hardto say.Brother,probablyall primitive

peopleatea little human fleshto beginwitlr.Later,becausetheirviewsaltered,

so're ofthem stoppedand triedsohardto do whatwasright thattheychanged into men, ir.rtoreal men. But sonleare still eatingpeople- just like reptiles. Somehavecha'ged i'rto fish,birds,nronkeysa, nd finalrymen; but thosewho

make no effortto do whatt right are still reptiles.when thosewho eatmen comparethernselvewsitl-rthosewl.rodon't,howashamedtheyrnustbe. probably

much moreashamedthan the reptilesarebeforernonkeys. "ln ancienttirnesY Ya boiled his sonfor fie and Zhou to eat;athat is the

old story.But actuallysi'ce the creatio.rof lreave' and earthby pan Gur men havebeen eatingeachother,from the ti're of yi yat son to the time of Xu Xilin,6and from the time of Xu Xilin dow. to the rnan ca.ght in wolf cub Village.Lastyeartheyexecutedacrirni,al irrtrrecity,a.rdaco.,sumptivesoaked

a pieceof breadin his blood and suckecilt.

"They want to eat me, and of corlrseyo* can do nothi'g about it single-

handed; but why n-urstyou ioi'

thing. If theyeatrne,theycaneatyou aswell; rnernbers of the samegroupcan

still eateachother.Btrt if yotr will iust changeyour ways,change.ight


then everyonewill havepeace.Altho.gh this hasbeen going on silce

thenr?As 'rar-eaters they are capableof a.y-


4. Yi Ya,a fa'orite of Duke tf.an of ei in the sc'e,th cent'ry 8.c., wasa good cook a.rd

sycophant' Whetr the dtrke renrarked that he had never tastedthe fleshofchildreri, yi ya cooked

his own son for him to eat. f ie and Zhou uere kirrgsof earlier periods. This misstatenrelt is

presented asa sign of

mental denrugenrent.

5. A nrythological 6gure.

6. A

revoltltionan' esectttedin r9o7for assassirratirarg Qing official.His heartand liverwere


Lu Xun:A Madman'sDiarv


immernorial,todaywe could rnakea

thiscan'tbe done!I'm sureyoucansaythat,Brother. 'l'he otherdavwhenthe tenantwantedthe rentreducedy, ou saidit cor-rldnb'te done." At firsthe only srniledcynically,therra rnurderousgleamcameinto hiseyes, and when I spokeof theirsecretlreturnedpale.Outsidethegatequitea crowd

specialeffortto do what is right,and sav

had gathereda, mongthem Mr. Zhao and his dog,all craningtheir necksto peerin. I could not seeall their faces.Sorneof them seemedto be masked;

othersweretheold lot, long-toothedwith livid faces,concealingtheirlaughter.

I knewthel'wereonegang,all eatersof human flesh.But I alsokneu'thatthey

did not all think alikeby anymeans.Someof thernthoughtthatsinceit had alwaysbeenso,men shouldbeeaten.Othersknewtheyshouldn'teatmenbut still wantedto, and wereafraidpeoplemight discovertheir secret;soalthough whatI saidmadethemangrytheystillsmiledtheircynical,tight-lippedsrniles. Suddenlymy brother'sfacedarkened. "Clear off,the wholelot of yotr!"he roared. "What's thepointof lookingat

a madman?" T'henI realizecplartoftheircunning.Theywouldneverbewillingtochange their stand,and theirplanswereall laid:theyhad labeledme a madman.ln future,when I waseaten,not onlywould therebe no trotrblebut peoplewould probablybe gratefulto them. When our tenantspokeof the villagerseatinga badcharacteri,t wasexactlythesamedevice. 'fhis istheirold trick. Olcl Chen came ir.rtoo in a toweringtentper.But thev cotrld not stopmy mouth. I had to warnthosepeople:

"You shouldchange,changefrom the bottom of your hearts.You mustre- alizethat therewill be no placefor man-eatersin the world in future. "lf you don'tchangey, ou mayall beeatenby eachother.Howevermanyof you thereare,you will be wipedout by the rcalrnel, jtrst aswolvesarekilled bv hunters- just like reptiles!" Old Chen droveeverybodyaway.My brotherhad disappearedO. ld Chen advisedme to go backto my room. It waspitch-darkin there.The beamsar-rd raftersshookaboven.ryhead.After shakingfor a while they grewbiggerand bigger.They piled on top of me. The vveightwasso great,I couldn't r.noveT. hey rneantthat I shoLrlcdlie. However,knowing that the weight wasfalse,I stnrggledout, dripping with sweat.But I had to warn them:

"Yon mustchangeat once,changefronrthebottomof yourhearts!Youmust

know that there'llbe no place for man-eatersin future





'l'he sur-hr asstoppedshining,thedoorisneveropened. fust trvomealsdayafter dry. Pickingup my chopsticksI, thoughtof rny elderbrother.I know now how my littlesisterdied:it rvasall throughhim. My sisterwasonlyfiveatthetirle.

L6 FlcrroN,l9l8-1949

I can still rememberl-rowsweetshelooked,poor thi'g. Mother weptasif she

would neverstop,but he beggedher not to cry,probablybecausehe hadeaten our sisterhimselfandsothisweepingmadehirn ratherasharnedI.f he hadany senseof shame

My sisterwaseatenbymy brother,brrtI don'tknowwhetherMotherrealized

it or not.

I think Mother must have known, but when she wept she didn't sayso outright,probablybecauseshealsotho'ght it proper.I rememberwhen I was four or five,siftingin the cool of the hall, rny brothertold me that if a man's parentswereill he shouldcut off a pieceof his fleshand boil it for them,if he

wantedto be considereda goodson;:and Mother didn't contradicthim. If one piececould be eaten,obviouslysocould thewhole.And yet just to think of the

weepingthen still makesmy heartbleed;that isthe extraordinarything about




t 2

I can'tbearto think of it.

It hasonly iust dawnedon me that all theseyearsI havebeenliving in a placewherefor four thousandyearshuma' fesh hasbeeneaten.My brother

had iust takenoverthe chargeof the housewhen our sisterdied,and he may well haveusedher fleshin our food,makinguseatit unwittingly.

I may haveeatenseveralpieceso[ rny sistert flesh unwittingly, and now it

is my How cana manlike nryselfa, fterfourthousandyearsof man-eatinghistory-

eventhoughI knew nothingaboutit at first-ever hopeto facerealmen?

r 3

Perhapstherearestill children who haven'teatenmen? Savethechildren




7. The doctrine of filial pieh'used bv the feudal nrling classto poisonthe peoplepreached that a son should,if necessaryc,ut off his orrrr flcsh to feedlrisparents.