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April 8, 2011

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Son of literary giant Lu Xun passes on

ZHOU Haiying, the son and only child of literary giant Lu Xun, was a low-key scientist who devoted much of his time to studies about his father's works and commemorative events. Yao Minji reports.

Zhou Haiying, the son and only child of legendary writer Lu Xun (1881-1936), passed away yesterday in Beijing. He was 81.

The funeral for the low-key expert in radio communications will be held in Beijing at Babaoshan Cemetery on April 11, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Televison where Zhou had worked.

Born in 1929 in Shanghai, Zhou wrote "My 70 Years with Lu Xun" (2001).

Zhou, who took a different path and became a scientist, was eclipsed by his father who was one of the most influential Chinese writers of the 20th century. Zhou traveled widely to take part in commemorative events and Lu Xun workshops. Before his death he was working on a research project about his father's writings.

Lu Xun, born Zhou Shuren, is a household name in China, especially because many of his essays and short stories are compulsory reading. He passed away in 1936, when his child was only seven years old.

He named his son Haiying because he was born in Shanghai - hai is taken from Shanghai and ying means baby. Zhou and his mother Xu Guangping lived in Shanghai until 1948, when he was 19, before moving to Hong Kong, and later Shenyang, capital city of Liaoning Province. The family finally settled in Beijing. Zhou frequently visited Shanghai.

Wang Xirong, head of Shanghai Lu Xun Museum, remembers Zhou as a sincere, straightforward, lively and kind person who donated a lot of memorabilia. In 2008, Zhou held his personal photographic exhibition "The World in a Mirror Box" at the museum, showing photos he had taken since the 1960s.

Zhou visited the museum and former residence of Lu Xun every time he returned to Shanghai.

"To me, he was very similar to his father, in terms of appearance, voice tone, his philosophy and personality," Wang recalls.

The museum is expected to hold commemorative events for Zhou in the near future, he says.

Lu Xun penned many essays, short stories, novels, poems and translations of classic Russian and Japanese works, and is best known for his realistic and in-depth illustration of the struggle of grassroots Chinese people in the early 20th century.

Some of his most powerful characters are both pathetic and sympathetic at the same time. They include Kong Yiji from the short story "Kong Yiji," an old scholar who never passed the Imperial examination to become an official and is often beaten for stealing from his employers; Ah Q from "The True Story of Ah Q," an uneducated peasant who grants himself "spiritual victories" even in humiliation; and Xianglin's wife from "Well Wishes," a poor middle-aged woman who endlessly repeats the story of her son's death to anyone she encounters.

Lu Xun had a rather open-minded attitude toward child rearing and education and even allowed his son Zhou to change the name Haiying if he wanted. He never changed it.

"When people ask if my father educated me in a particular way or whether any of his books had a great influence on me, I have to say no," Zhou said in an early interview with Shanghai Daily.

Zhou, a physicist by training, said he didn't like writing when he was a child, and couldn't recite the Chinese classics very well, but neither of his parents pushed him. Instead, he took an entirely different path from his father and became a scientist, a radio engineer.

"But I'm always very careful, which I must be, because I'm Lu Xun's son. And people have often misunderstood what I say and do," he said.


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