Lu Xun attended the banquet arranged by Smedley on his 50th birthday

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Date: September 17th, 1930

Venue: Shanghai “slabaya” Western Restaurant

Present at the banquet: Mr. and Mrs. Lu Xun joined Haiying, Roushi, fengxuefeng, fengnaichao, dongshaoming, yeshaojun, Mao Dun, Smedley and other 22 people

On september17,1930, Lu Xun’s diary said: “my friends commemorated my 50th birthday in the Dutch western restaurant. In the evening, they went with Guangping with Hai Ying. There were 22 people at the table. They returned at night.”


The “friends” in the diary refer to the “leftist League” and the American journalist Smedley who met for the first time.


Lu Xun became famous in his later years, which attracted the attention of many Western journalists in China at that time, including the famous American journalist Edgar Snow and Smedley.


Agnes Smedley


, a famous American journalist, writer and social activist. In his early years, he worked as a maid, a cigarette factory worker and a Book salesman. In 1918, he was arrested and imprisoned for six months for supporting the Indian independence movement. He has lived in Berlin for eight years since 1919 and actively participated in the Indian national liberation movement.




An outstanding and great woman, Smedley. Image source / network


Smedley came to China at the end of 1928 as a special correspondent of the German Frankfurt daily and stayed in China for 12 years. In march1930, he wrote for “sprout monthly”. Since 1931, he has assisted Lu Xun in collecting, editing and printing the prints of kaisui · kelehuizhi. In the spring of 1932, he and Lu Xun participated in the rescue of Niu LAN and his wife.


In 1933, he joined the China Civil Rights Protection League. In 1936, when Lu Xun was seriously ill, he consulted Yan Yi. At the beginning and middle of the Anti Japanese War, she witnessed Japan’s aggression against China and issued a just voice to the world. Smedley has also translated Lu Xun’s works, the current situation of literary and art circles in dark China and written in the late night, which were translated into English by her and published in the American progress journal.


September 24, 1930 was the third day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. “Pay for your 50th birthday in the evening of guangpingzhi.”. It was Lu Xun’s 50th birthday. He was paid for his noodles. Simply, he ate almost “longevity noodles”, a typical Chinese flavor. Earlier, on September 17, Lu Xun had a special birthday. Those writers and fighters who were regarded as “left leaning dangerous elements” by the authorities wanted to hold a grand party on Lu Xun’s birthday. Smedley gladly accepted the order and rented Lu Ban road in the French concession in his own name

(now Chongqing South Road)

Dutch “slabaya” western restaurant on No. 50.


Among the initiators of this birthday party were Roushi, fengxuefeng, fengnaichao, dongshaoming, caiyongshang, and yeshaojun and Mao Dun.


Smedley later described the meal in detail in his “war song of China”. This is a very valuable first-hand information in Lu Xun’s meal:






Book Shadow of Chinese war song. Image source / network

Lu Xun arrived early with his young son. This is my first meeting with Lu Xun. During my whole time in China, this man was the one who was most affected. He is not tall and a little thin. Wearing Chinese clothes made of milk white silk and soft Chinese boots. Without a hat, short shaved hair looks like a toothbrush. However, although Lu Xun’s face is just like that of ordinary Chinese, he has left me the most impressive memory among the people I have met so far. The face is vivid and alert. Although he doesn’t speak English, he can use German skillfully. So I also talked to him in German. His manner of dealing with people, his way of speaking, and his actions all reveal a kind of unspeakable harmony and charm full of personality. I suddenly felt like a piece of earth, looking very ugly.


In another recall article, Smedley also mentioned the banquet:


The first time I met him was at the celebration of his 50th birthday. I think it was 1929

(actually 1930 — the author’s note)

? Some young writers asked me to rent a small foreign restaurant where we could have an afternoon tea party and have dinner. It is dangerous for the Chinese to have such a rally. I am a foreigner. I can rent that place to invite my guests. But when all the guests come, the host of the foreign hotel will see that all the guests are Chinese, and most of them are poor, and the Chinese waiters will also hear our conversation and speeches, so there will be danger. On the afternoon of Lu Xun’s birthday, guests came to the garden of the small hotel one after another. Some of them came alone or in groups. Many have no money, so they can’t stay for supper in the evening. Lu Xun and his wife

(his wife holds a child)

, sitting or standing at a table in the garden, entertaining guests who came into the garden to pay their respects. Lu Xun was really in high spirits that day… His face was always so moving, and his eyes were always shining with wisdom and interest. His long silk robe added to his splendor and the dignity that became a part of him.


Smedley described that in Shanghai at that time, even if a few people gathered in one place, it was also dangerous. There were detectives around. “On that day, no less than 200 people came to pay tribute to Lu Xun, and many of them would have lost their heads if the police knew about them.” “I still remember a group of poor dramatists standing there talking to Lu Xun. Somehow, they seemed poorer than the other guests.” In addition, there are many left-wing writers, artists, journalists, teachers, students and professors. “Another was a representative of the Red Army assistance Association, a representative of the anti imperialist league who had just been released from prison, and an editor of the party newspaper of the Communist Party of Shanghai at that time. I still remember that a conservative philosophy professor also came to celebrate Lu Xun’s birthday.” Smedley obviously wants to more clearly describe the identities of Roushi, fengxuefeng, fengnaichao, dongshaoming, caiyongshang, yeshaojun, Mao Dun, etc.


Throughout the afternoon, guests kept coming and going. In the evening, only 50 people stayed to hold a small banquet. Smedley saw the owner of the Dutch western restaurant walking around the room, taking care of everything herself. She watched and listened, watching whether he would call the police. Because the speeches made by all the people present at that time, “if the police knew about it, machine guns and arresting vehicles would be attracted.”. In fact, they were just talking about modern thought, China’s liberation, the organization of cultural organizations, and the necessity of Lu Xun’s leadership. They asked Lu Xun to come out and be a real leader. “That night, I heard Lu Xun’s speech for the first time. My ears turned to the street outside, worried about the possible rumble of the police’s arresting car, but I still listened to what an interpreter had translated for him. Soon, I forgot about the arresting car. Because Lu Xun was there telling the story of his life. He stood, a calm and serious figure, talking calmly and calmly, so that all the waiters were happy Listening to his every word, sometimes even the guests forget to serve them. ” Smedley became a fan of Lu Xun.




Portrait of Lu Xun. Image source / network


At this birthday banquet, Lu Xun talked about his youth life in a semi feudal small village, how he first studied medicine in Japan, how he abandoned medicine to literature, and tried to awaken the youth through literature. He tends to Russian revolutionary writers and learns from them. “He is a man of great learning, and I think he is the most educated man I know.” According to Smedley, Lu Xun “showed his knowledge of world literature to his friends” that night. Of course, whether Lu Xun really talks so much is a question mark. However, it is undeniable that the Lu Xun described by Smedley is very specific, and even more profound and unique than that observed by domestic Writers: “I always see Lu Xun’s fragile but energetic figure walking in and out of his room in Hongkou District, Shanghai. His face is lit with an expression of strong humor, which is part of his existence.”


Smedley spoke highly of Lu Xun’s works. Lu Xun’s article written in the middle of the night was praised by Smedley as “an essay showing all signs of genius”, “This is really a magnificent work. On the one hand, it shows his deep love for the revolutionary youth created by the general Chinese, and at the same time, it is full of his strong hatred for the general reactionary forces at that time, because these reactionary forces are destroying the lives of most outstanding Chinese youth.”. Smedley commented: “Lu Xun is the only modern Chinese writer who has the strange and rare character we call ‘genius’.” For this character, although Lu Xun used a series of pseudonyms, he could not hide it from others. People always knew that he wrote it. “He doesn’t seem to know how to call fear. He has a deep contempt, which is indescribable.”


In 2007, the Communist Party of China


, Comintern and Chinese Soviet movement


?Volume 15 published a secret letter that had been sealed for 70 years. This letter was written by Soong Ching Ling to Wang Ming on January 26, 1937. The letter said that Smedley was “a liberal writer and journalist who sympathized with China’s national liberation movement”. However, she published the secret agreement between Chiang Kai Shek and Zhou Enlai without the consent of the leaders of the Communist Party of China during the Xi’an Incident, which caused great passivity to both the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. At the same time, Soong Ching Ling also revealed another identity of Smedley: “in fact, people here think she is the representative of the Comintern. She put the workers’ newsletter The publishers, the Secretary of the trade union, the staff of the special section of the Shanghai Central Bureau of the Communist Party of China and many others brought them to a residence of foreigners who sympathized with us. As a result, this special residence for important purposes was destroyed. Although she was undoubtedly well intentioned, her working methods have caused losses to our interests. ” So SongQingLing hoped that Wang Ming would pay attention to it.


When SongQingLing wrote this letter, Lu Xun had been dead for several months. It can be seen from the letter that Smedley’s activities at that time had been watched by the police, and she should be vigilant about it. Therefore, she was very vigilant to observe the surrounding movements when organizing Lu Xun’s 50th birthday party. Soong Ching Ling believed that “although she undoubtedly meant well, her working methods have caused losses to our interests”, which should be said to be very pertinent.


Through the contacts between Lu Xun and Smedley, especially the dinner for Lu Xun’s 50th birthday arranged by her, we may find another side of Lu Xun, which is also beneficial to the study of Lu Xun’s cosmopolitanism.




Lu Xun’s meal

Author: xuelinrong

Guangxi Normal University Press

March 2021

Authorized by the publishing house





By xuelinrong

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