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Lu Xun and Sartre: Two Voltaire in the 20th Century

Author: GuoYanNa
Tutor: LiZhiQing
School: Ocean University of China
Course: French Language and Literature
Keywords: enlightenment post-enlightenment Lu Xun Sartre literature of commitment
CLC: I106
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 54
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Both honored as Voltaire in the 20th century, Lu Xun and Jean-Paul Sartre are respectively recognized as the most influential committed intellectual in their own time. The research aims to explore the impressive similarities of Lu Xun and Sartre in the dark age by using the comparative approach. Lu Xun has witnessed the age of enlightenment in China, men were victims of despotism, feudalism, Confucianism and imperialism; while Sartre has been through the violence of world wars, the political instability and the decline of religion; the death of God and loss of divine sense threw people into disorientation and the France into the age of post-enlightenment. Lu Xun and Sartre, standing out as the torchbearers, shoulder the responsibility to awaken people and lead them out of the dark age. The research attempts equally to demonstrate how they fulfill their responsibility by literature of commitment and engage in the social development by intervention in direct actions. Through their writing, their thoughts and philosophies, they unanimously launched three appeals to people: freedom, responsibility and act. Man is therefore called to exercise his freedom; responsible for himself and the world, he must exceed the state of“existence”to reach the state of“being”through the creation or action. Besides the literature, they participated in revolutionary activities, created or edited magazines and newspapers, especially came close to Marxism and became willingly“road company”of Communist Party but keeping distances as independent intellectuals. Lu Xun and Sartre come from different backgrounds, but despite all possible differences, the most basic similarity is their fearless commitment to destroy the established order and to awaken the men plunged into darkness. All their efforts will be rewarded so that, like Voltaire, Lu Xun and Sartre will never be forgotten.

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