TSOI Sze Pang, Pablo (Hong Kong Baptist University), Paralysis and Paranoia: Comparing Lu Xun and Joyce: Two Contrasted Modes of Modernism, English/28 pages, March 2011.


In this article I discuss Lu Xun’s Outcry and James Joyce’s Dubliners in relation to the psychoanalytic concept of paranoia. Lu Xun’s literary pursuit relates closely to an attempt to save China from a national paralysis (mamu), which he claims was rooted in feudal or Confucian values prevalent in traditional Chinese society. I argue that Lu Xun’s attempt – like those prevailing during the May Fourth Movement (1919) – to eliminate such a paralysis may be compared to paranoia.
Paralysis is also a central motif in Joyce’s Dubliners, referring to a national stagnation in emotion, will, and social values among Irish people. Joyce’s reference to this pseudo-medical term also leads to a paranoia permeating his writing, which is ultimately characterized by a self-contained, autonomous language, as in Finnegans Wake. In comparing Lu Xun to Joyce, I examine paranoia as source and by-product of modern literature, Chinese or Western.