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From Ah Q to Lei FengFreud and Revolutionary Spirit in 20th Century China$
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Wendy Larson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804700757

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804700757.001.0001

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Revolutionary Discourse and the Spirit

Revolutionary Discourse and the Spirit

From Ah Q to Lei Feng

Chapter:
(p.77) Three Revolutionary Discourse and the Spirit
Source:
From Ah Q to Lei Feng
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804700757.003.0004

This chapter explores the development of theories of the mind in revolutionary culture, focusing on Lu Xun's 1921 novella The True Story of Ah Q (A Q zhengzhuan). In this work, the fictional character Ah Q, a day laborer, uses a strategy known as “spiritual victory method” to turn defeat into victory. Mao Zedong rejected “bourgeois” emphasis on subjectivity and personality while stressing the importance of human will. The Leninist ideas of reflection and recognition were valorized by revolutionary Chinese psychology. This chapter examines the Chinese discourse of revolutionary spirit and interprets it as a mentality that was profoundly different from that of the Freudian subject which is characterized by its deeply sexualized unconscious. In terms of the structure of the mind, however, the person with this revolutionary spirit shares some similarities with the Freudian subject.

Keywords:   Lu Xun, The True Story of Ah Q, theories of the mind, psychology, spiritual victory method, subjectivity, Mao Zedong, unconscious, revolutionary spirit

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