1st Edition

Lu Xun’s Affirmative Biopolitics Nothingness and the Power of Self-Transcendence

By Wenjin Cui Copyright 2022
    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book explores an extraordinary case of affirmative biopolitics through the study of Lu Xun (1881–1936), the most prominent cultural figure of modern China. Diverging from the Enlightenment-humanist framework in reference to which Lu Xun is commonly interpreted, it demonstrates how his thinking is defined by a naturalistic conception of culture that is best understood in the global context of what Foucault defines as the biological turn of modernity. In comparison to ontologically-grounded modern Western theories of life, it brings to light the deep connection between Lu Xun’s affirmative biopolitics and the epistemic ground of Chinese tradition―what is known as correlative thinking.

    Combining close readings of literary texts with a theoretical consideration of broader issues of culture, this book is an essential read for scholars and students who are interested in Lu Xun, modern Chinese intellectual history, comparative studies of Chinese and Western thought, and the question of affirmative biopolitics.

    Introduction Chapter 1. Life and the Power of Self-Transcendence Chapter 2. The Generation of a “New Life” Chapter 3. Evolutionary Progress and In-Between Existence Chapter 4. A Biopolitical Vision of Chinese Modernity Chapter 5. Correlative Thinking and Its Modern Transformation Chapter 6. Overcoming Nihilism Chapter 7. The Negative Bond between Singular Existences Bibliography


    Wenjin Cui is an Assistant Professor of Chinese at the University of New Hampshire. Her areas of specialization include modern and contemporary Chinese literature and culture, film studies, and critical theory.

    "For those who have read Lu Xun, seek to understand him, and have been confounded by perplexing paradoxes in his work, this book will be illuminating and enlightening." Géraldine Fiss, University of Southern California

    "By recasting Lu Xun as engaged in affirmative biopolitics, this illuminating study discovers the evolutional and naturalistic foundation of modern Chinese culture. Lu Xun’s biopolitics sees biological life as a source of power and energy that fuels and enriches human culture and institution." Ban Wang, Stanford University