Lin Yutang's cartoon, “Lu Xun Beats a Pekinese Dog,” presents one of the most well-known positive images of Lu Xun. This image originated with the publication on Dec. 28, 1925 of Lu Xun's essay, “On Deferring Fair Play,” which argued that in attacking one's enemies one should not pull one's punches but continue until they are knocked to the ground. Later on, during Lu Xun's disputes with other writers, he became best known for his absolutely uncompromising style when fighting back even over the most trivial of matters.
Lin Yutang, a participant in the debates of the time, drew his first “Lu Xun Beats a Pekinese Dog” to add fuel to the flames. However, this crucial cartoon was almost completely forgotten, while Lu Xun's essay became something known to all. Why did the two works encounter such different destinies? What does this outcome say about culture? These are the main questions this paper will be exploring.
This paper will analyze Lin Yutang's caricature of Lu Xun, recover the pathways of his thought and his satirical focuses, and explain his new cartooning concept, how it triggered and influenced the dispute between the two men, and why Lu Xun eventually lost in the dispute. The caricature's suggestion of Lu Xun behaving like an official was at odds with the heroic, anti-authoritarian image of Lu Xun that left-wing youth at the time had shaped for him, so it was deliberately forgotten.
The heroic image that Lin Yutang drew in “Lu Xun Beats a Pekinese Dog” left a lasting impression in the public mind through the fast medium of newsprint. But it also provided readers an opportunity for free interpretation. In the traditional Chinese painting tradition, mutual trust and secrecy were maintained between the artist and viewer, but this cartoon transformed the relationship into one of openness and multiple meanings, which was a mark of China's modernization.