The image of an “audible China” is one opposed to the traditional China’s as “voiceless.” Not only does it refer to the survival of modern Chinese out of the abandoned Classical Chinese, it also provides a new means to examine modern China’s cultural transformation and development in terms of “voice.” This essay will discuss mainly how speech, one of “the three best tools for spreading civilization,” together with newspapers and magazines and schools, contributes to the success of the Vernacular Chinese Movement (Baihuawen yundong 白话文运动, CE 1917–1919) and the innovation in modern Chinese writing (including Chinese academic writing style).
Lu Xun’s achievements as a philosopher and writer were confirmed in the twentieth century in China, but little attention has been paid to Lu Xun as a scholar. Admittedly, the revolutionary nature of his A Brief History of Chinese Fiction (Zhongguo xiaoshuo shilüe) has been universally acknowledged in scholarly circles and the book has been quoted in many works. However, Lu Xun’s scholarly ideals, his methods, and the distinctive scholarly style that he employed have not received enough attention. Lu Xun’s choice of a particular scholarly style, as a philosopher, a writer, and a scholar, is closely interrelated with the development of the scholarship in China. This article is therefore limited to Lu Xun and attempts to expose one side of Chinese scholarship that has been overlooked while analyzing the origins and development of Lu Xun’s scholarly style (述学文体 shuxue wenti).