Author Interview with Carolyn T. Brown on Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung

The following is an interview with Dr. Carolyn T. Brown, author of the new book Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung, which is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Cambria Press Publication Author Carolyn Brown Lu Xun


Why did you decide to write this book?
Carolyn T. Brown: The seeds of this book lie in the mid-1980s when I was an academic in Chinese literature. My career took a turn away from academia, and the book sat in the drawer for several decades. But the nascent book wouldn’t allow me to forget it. So after I retired, I refurbished my reading knowledge of Chinese and finished the book. Somewhere during those decades I encountered the work of Carl Jung and over time, the resonances between the two emerged naturally for me. In the end, there were two questions that drove the book: why were Lu Xun’s stories so personally compelling to me and what did he mean by wanting to cure the spirits of the Chinese people. I found these questions so compelling that in the end it was easier to write the book than to not write it.

What do you hope your readers take away from your book?
Naturally I hope that readers will gain a more precise appreciation for Lu Xun’s psychological depth and masterful techniques, and also a deepened sense of why he might have been, and still is, important in China. For those not overly interested in China but deeply interested in literature and psychology, I hope my analysis will suggest new historical connections between Chinese and Western literature. I am well aware that it is out of fashion to speak of certain universal features of human life, which is labeled “essentializing,” and I understand that superficial statements about how “we’re all the same” usually involve colonialist impositions by “us” onto the “them.” Nevertheless, human beings do wrestle with some of the same deep issues, and the human similarities lie at that level of questions, not necessarily of answers. For example, Lu Xun deeply pondered the issue of scapegoating, and as best I can tell, that psychological syndrome has been alive and well in all societies over time. So I hope readers will see, in addition to the enormous differences of history and culture, similarities in the issues that troubled this sensitive man and that still trouble us today. In addition I hope that readers in China will find that my reading of Lu Xun gives them further permission to think about their great writer not just in terms of history and politics, which have been, quite appropriately, the driving force in Chinese interpretations of his work, but also will find in the book a further way of appreciating his sensitive pondering of illness and health at multiple levels of society and self, questions that are perennial.

What other research do you believe is useful on this topic?
CTB: The book itself suggests two questions ripe for further study. Scholars who have wondered about the influence of Western literature on Lu Xun’s short stories have focused on issues of content. My book suggests influence in structural elements, in particular Lu Xun’s use of the literary techniques of doubling and splitting, which was prevalent in nineteenth-century Europe. I would love to see someone take a list of the books that he was known to have read and trace parallels in the literary techniques that he used, not just those of doubling and splitting, but multiple “tricks of the literary trade,” including use of quotation and summary, ordering of plot elements, and so forth. A good knowledge of literary techniques in the Chinese tradition would help reveal what exactly Lu Xun did that was new to China and probably also what was different from the same Western writers.

Another issue that surfaced but which I wasn’t able to pursue was a new way of thinking about Nietzsche’s influence on Lu Xun. Prior studies that I encountered looked at issues of content. I stumbled upon parallels in the way each man frames his questions, and in fact these parallels in structure shed light on the works of Carl Jung as well. I suspect that there is a lot more to discover about the structure of thinking of these two when viewed together. It is even possible that a focus on structure will illuminate the work of other writers and thinkers of that period.

About the author: Carolyn Thompson Brown is retired from her position as Director of the Office of Scholarly Programs and the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress. She holds a PhD in Literature from American University and an MA and BA from Cornell University. She served as Associate Dean for Humanities at Howard University before moving to the Library of Congress, where she held numerous positions including Director of Area Studies Collections. During her academic career she published in several journals, including CLEAR and Modern Chinese Literature, and edited Psycho-sinology: the Universe of Dreams in Chinese Culture. She serves as a trustee of the Fetzer Institute.

Title: Reading Lu Xun Through Carl Jung
 Carolyn T. Brown
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979374
312 pp.  |   2018   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage:

See also Dr. Brown’s speech for her book launch at the 2018 Association of Asian Studies conference in Washington, DC.


See also The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s “Wild Grass (Yecao)”
by Nicholas A. Kaldis.

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Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu (City University of New York) spoke about her new book Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone at the Cambria Press reception. This book is in the Cambria Press Sinophone World Series headed by Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Watch Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author I-Hsien Wu publication Story of the Stone

Below is a transcript of Professor I-Hsien Wu’s speech:

“Let me begin with a heartfelt thank you to Toni Tan and David Armstrong, and the whole production team at Cambria. Thank you for helping me transform my project into a book. And thank you, Professor Mair. It is my great honor to have my book included in the series. I feel extremely honored and grateful.

And I am so thrilled to be here today, because The Story of the Stone is not only the most celebrated prose fiction in Chinese literature but also my favorite book. I vividly remember reading an abridged version of the novel for young readers when I was in elementary school. And I remember reading the original for the first time when I was eleven — it was such a struggle! I was completely confused by Chapter 1 and gave up!

But now that’s history. Chapter 1 has since become where I turn to all the time, especially the metafictional framework. I am intrigued by the idea that a stone can be a character, a narrator, a jade pendant, and the book itself all at the same time. And I am fascinated by the stone’s famous criticism of historical romance, erotic fiction, and scholar-and-beauty novels. Although it looks like he is drawing a line between his story and these previous works, in fact he only reveals that The Story of the Stone is deeply rooted in these genres and conventions.

This is where the novel openly shows the author’s anxiety of influence and alludes to the nature of intertextuality, and this is also where my book comes in. To me, the novel’s construction of lust is a dialogue with erotic literature; its making of romance is about the use of drama; in the last forty chapters, the novel wrestles with the scholar-and-beauty ideals; and finally, the mythic stone is created to question the convention of storytelling, not only in pre-existing fiction but also in the novel’s many previous lives in manuscript versions and printed editions.

It has been a long journey for me reading and writing about The Story of the Stone. I hope you will all join me by reading my book. Thank you.”

* * * * *

How does The Story of the Stone utilize language and text to make meanings of the human lives it creates? How does The Story of the Stone exist through its relation to previous fiction? To answer these questions, this book argues that the mythic stone’s harsh critiques of historical romance (yeshi), erotic fiction (fengyue bimo), and scholar-and-beauty fiction (caizi jiaren) cannot be taken at face value. Instead, they signify The Stone’s anxiety of influence and allude to the nature of intertextuality. Professor Wu’s book, Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature, is thus a must-read for anyone interested in The Story of the Stone, and for readers interested in novel, fiction, drama, and other literary genres and subgenres in Chinese literature.

Title: Eroticism and Other Literary Conventions in Chinese Literature: Intertextuality in The Story of the Stone
Author: I-Hsien Wu
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979770
240 pp.  |   2017   |   Hardback & E-book
Book Webpage:

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Cambria Press Publication Review: The Chinese Prose Poem

Congratulations to to Dr. Nicholas A. Kaldis, Associate Professor of Asian and Asian American Studies at SUNY Binghamton, on another excellent review of his book, The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao), in the journal Frontiers of Literary Studies in China.


The book review notes that “The Chinese Prose Poem is a well-crafted, critical, and interpretive analysis of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao ). In addition to standing as its own critical interpretation, The Chinese Prose Poem is also a well annotated bibliographical reference for interpretations of Lu Xun’s prose poem collection. Nicholas A. Kaldis draws convincingly on the literary interpretive strategy of Walter A. Davis and is informed by Freudian psychology and Nietzschean symbolism (an interest of Lu Xun’s), which the author weaves into his close readings of Lu Xun’s prose poems themselves.”

The review further praises the book because “Kaldis’ close readings of Yecao works use ample quotations with accompanying Chinese characters (which will be appreciated by Chinese-literate readers), discussions of Lu Xun’s linguistic expressions, and his psychological and emotional states. The readings are well considered and complex, and Kaldis’ analyses and interpretive perspectives are clear and solid, engaging productively with Lu Xun’s intentionally difficult embrace of a language of paradox in Yecao.”

Read more outstanding reviews for The Chinese Prose Poem.

This book is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, headed by Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

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Cambria Press Author Wilt Idema of Harvard University Wins Special Book Award of China

Wilt L Idema

Cambria Press author Wilt L. Idema is one of the recipients of the prestigious Special Book Award of China.

Cambria Press congratulates Dr. Wilt Idema of Harvard University on winning the prestigious Special Book Award of China. Leading Sinologist, Dr. Idema’s research interests range from Chinese women’s literature to traditional Chinese vernacular literature (fiction and drama). In recent years he also has published several collections of traditional popular ballads and prosimetric narratives. His most recent books include The Red Brush: Writing Women of Imperial China (with Beata Grant, 2004); Monks, Bandits, Lovers and Immortals: Eleven Early Chinese Plays (with Stephen H. West, 2010); The Resurrected Skeleton: From Zhuangzi to Lu Xun (2014); The Orphan of Zhao and Other Yuan Plays: The Earliest Known Versions (with Stephen H. West, 2015); The Metamorphosis of Tianxian pei: Local Opera Under the Revolution (1949-1956) (2015); and Passion, Poverty and Travel: Traditional Hakka Songs and Ballads (2015).

His latest book The Immortal Maiden Equal to Heaven and Other Precious Scrolls from Western Gansu will be published by Cambria Press next month. It is part of the Cambria Sinophone World Series led by another world-renowned Sinologist, Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania.

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MCLC: “The Chinese Prose Poem’s bibliography, a feat of compilation stands as a scholarly resource in and of itself.” -> Read the Outstanding Book Review

Lu Xun Cambria Press Sinophone Yecao AAS Asian Studies Chinese literature

The Chinese Prose Poem lives up to its promise as a scholarly reference and reader’s companion to some of Lu Xun’s most challenging and enigmatic work.” – MCLC

Cambria Press congratulates Professor Nicholas A. Kaldis (Binghamton University (SUNY)) on the outstanding review of his book The Chinese Prose Poem: A Study of Lu Xun’s Wild Grass (Yecao) in the journal MCLC, which states that “the book’s substantial sixty-page bibliography [is] a feat of compilation that stands as a scholarly resource in and of itself. Clearly, The Chinese Prose Poem is not aimed at the casual reader; but for that matter, neither was Yecao,” further adding that the “lives up to its promise as a scholarly reference and reader’s companion to some of Lu Xun’s most challenging and enigmatic work. Of equal importance, the book reaffirms the value of the close reading of literature, implicitly arguing, along with Lu Xun, that serious literature does matter and might change its readers for the better, given that those readers are willing to put in the effort of close, thoughtful analysis and reflection.”

This book is in the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by Victor H. Mair (University of Pennsylvania) and will be on display at the Cambria Press booth at 2015 AAS annual conference. The Cambria Press booth (601) will be right in the front, near the exhibit hall entrance. Our ad is on the outside back cover of the AAS program.

Be sure to catch Dr. Kaldis’s presentation at the session “Public and Private Spaces in Contemporary Chinese Literature” next Saturday at 10:45 a.m.

Another exciting event will be taking place on Saturday at 2 p.m. LIKE Cambria Press on Facebook and follow Cambria Press on Twitter so you don’t miss the big announcement!

You can still browse the book if you won’t be at the conference by clicking here and use the AAS discount (from now until April 30, a conference discount of 35% off the hardcover list price is available–use coupon code AAS2015 at

Visit the Cambria Press website. Download the Cambria Press catalog.

#MLA15 Mo Yan fans! Here’s the perfect complement to the Nobel laureate’s novels!

Mo Yan Nobel Prize

Enter the Fictional World of Mo Yan with this perfect complement! See this book at the Cambria Press booth (402) at #MLA15

There couldn’t be a better endorsement than from Dr. Howard Goldblatt, the translator of Mo Yan’s novels: “I recommend this first full-length study in English to anyone who wants the perfect complement to their reading of Mo Yan’s novels.”

Browse A Subversive Voice in China: The Fictional World of Mo Yan by Shelley Chan, associate professor of Chinese language and cultural studies at Wittenburg University, at the Cambria Press booth (402) in the book exhibit hall and enter our #MLA15 book-giveaway draw for a chance to win this book.

Dr. Chan will be participating in the session Memory as Absence, Rhetoric, Identity, and Critique in Mo Yan’s Fiction on Friday at 5:15 p.m.

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#MLA15 Modern Poetry in China: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic

#MLA15 Modern Poetry in China   Paul Manfredi Cambria Press academic publisher Sinophone

#MLA15: Check out Modern Poetry in China by Paul Manfredi at the Cambria Press booth (402)

Cambria Press congratulates Paul Manfredi, professor of Chinese studies at Pacific Lutheran University, on the outstanding reviews of his book, Modern Poetry in China: A Visual-Verbal Dynamic. The Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art lauds the book for being “a very well-written, researched, illustrated and convincingly argued book that will no doubt be read widely among those with a specialist interest in Chinese literature and traditional culture.”

With several stunning images in color, the book includes insightful discussions of the works of leading modern Chinese artists such as as Li Jinfa, Yan Li, Ji Xian, Luo Qing, and Xia Yu.

Browse this book at the Cambria Press booth (402) in the book exhibit hall and enter our #MLA15 book-giveaway draw for a chance to win this book, which is in the Cambria Sinophone World Series headed by Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania).

Dr. Manfredi will be presiding over the sessions Contemporary Chinese Poetry and the Other Arts (Friday at 1:45 p.m.) and The Fiction of Mo Yan: Post–Nobel Prize Assessments (Saturday at 5:15 p.m).

Watch Paul Manfredi discuss his book and read his China Avant Garde blog.

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Visit the Cambria Press website.