The death of Lu Xun’s brother Zhou Zuoren in a tragic way

When it comes to Lu Xun, most Chinese people are not unfamiliar with him, and the spirit of Ah Q that Chinese people are familiar with comes from his works. However, what many Chinese people do not know is that Lu Xun had no love for the Chinese nation at all. His works were not only full of total negation of Chinese culture and preaching of violence and hatred, but he also took the side of Soviet Russia and Japan in his fundamental position. Such a Lu Xun obviously met the needs of the Chinese Communist Party to seize power and the propaganda needs of the Chinese Communist Party to poison and brainwash the people. Lu Xun became a well-known literary figure who was used by the CCP and was later elevated by the CCP.

It is a good thing that Lu Xun did not live to see the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party, because after 1949 the Communist Party leader Mao Zedong said this: If Lu Xun lived, he would either shut up himself or go to prison. The younger brother of Lu Xun, Zhou Zuoren, was not so fortunate, as he lived under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.

Cut off his friendship with Lu Xun

In 1901, he entered the Jiangnan Marine Academy in Nanjing, where he changed his name to “Zuoren”. At that time, he studied the engine course with English textbooks, so Zhou Zuoren had a good foundation of English. After that, he was admitted as a government-funded student, and studied in Japan with Lu Xun and his friend Xu Shoushang in 1906.

During his study in Japan, Zhou Zuoren first studied Japanese, then studied naval technology, and finally switched to foreign languages, having studied Greek, Russian and Sanskrit. Together with Lu Xun, he translated and published the first and second parts of the Collection of Extraterritorial Novels, which was considered an attempt at translation. This also laid the foundation for his later work in translation.

In 1911, Zhou Zuoren returned to China from Japan. He first worked as a high school teacher teaching English for four years, and then worked as a compiler in the National History Compilation Office affiliated with Peking University. In 1918, he became a professor of liberal arts (Faculty of Arts) at Peking University, where he taught courses on the history of Greco-Roman literature, the history of European literature, modern prose, and Buddhist literature, and founded the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures at Peking University and became the first head of the department.

Around 1919, Zhou Zuoren, Zhou Jianren and Lu Xun bought the house at No. 11 Badaowan (Xinjiekou) together, ending their long period of parasitism. They also brought their elderly mother to Beijing to support them together. In 1923, Zhou Zuoren suddenly broke off contact with Lu Xun, who quickly moved out and brought his mother to the new house. Later, when Lu Xun went to pick up a book, he was insulted by Zhou Zuoren and his wife, and Zhou Zuoren even picked up an incense burner and smashed it against Lu Xun, but it was grabbed by someone else and did not make a bigger scene.

What was the reason for the disagreement between Zhou Zuoren and Lu Xun? Some say that Lu Xun peeped at Zhou Zuoren’s Japanese wife, Nobuko Hada, and was caught bathing, which made Zhou Zuoren furious; others say that Lu Xun took advantage of Zhou Zuoren’s absence to molest his sister-in-law, and was rejected by Nobuko Hada, which led to a brotherly disagreement; others say that the Zhou brothers had different cultural views, coupled with Nobuko Hada’s provocation, which led to this result, and so on. . Whatever the reason, the brothers became strangers from then on.

After Lu Xun passed away in Shanghai in October 1936, Zhou Zuoren did not go to Shanghai, but continued to attend classes at Peking University, but with an unpleasant look on his face.

Remaining in Beiping, he became a traitor

After the outbreak of the Total War of Resistance in 1937, the Japanese army occupied Beiping (Beijing). At that time, Peking University, Tsinghua University and other universities and many students and teachers moved south, but Zhou Zuoren chose to stay, despite Hu Shi’s advice not to get involved in the political whirlpool, and became one of the four “professors staying in Beiping”, and was entrusted by the president to guard the school property.

At first, Zhou only taught the students who stayed behind, and did not take up any administrative positions under the puppet regime. However, something happened next that changed Zhou’s life.

On New Year’s Day 1939, a guest claiming to be one of his students begged to see Zhou Zuoren and, after meeting him, suddenly shot him down, slightly wounded by a bullet that hit a brass buckle. The murderer escaped and was not caught. After the war, someone wrote an article in the United States, claiming that he was a student back then and was unhappy with Zhou’s pro-Japanese behavior and did it.

After the shooting, Japanese gendarmes stationed at Zhou Zuoren’s house, and Zhou Zuoren formally went under the water, accepting an offer from Wang Jingwei’s Nanjing government as the librarian of National Peking University, and in March he was hired to be the “preparer of the Faculty of Arts” at Peking University, and after the opening of the school, he was also the dean of the Faculty of Arts. From then on, he was reduced to a traitor. From 1940 onwards, Zhou Zuoren served as a member of the Standing Committee of the North China Political Affairs Commission and the Supervisor of the General Administration of Education, the President of the East Asian Cultural Council, and the Director of the Sino-Japanese Cultural Association. He also served as a member of the “Executive Committee of the North China Political Affairs Commission and Supervisor of the General Administration of Education”, “Chairman of the East Asian Cultural Council”, and “Director of the China-Japan Cultural Association”.

During his tenure, he cooperated with the Japanese to educate the Chinese on pro-Japanese education, visited the Japanese emperor in Tokyo, paid condolences to the wounded Japanese soldiers and donated 1,000 foreign currencies, followed Wang Jingwei to the “pseudo-Manchukuo” to kowtow to Pu Yi, and repeatedly preached “Sino-Japanese goodwill” and “Greater East Asia coexistence and prosperity” in his articles. In his articles, he repeatedly advocated “Sino-Japanese goodwill” and “coexistence and prosperity of Greater East Asia”. This is obviously beyond what an intellectual with moral integrity would do.

After the victory of the war, Zhou Zuoren was arrested by the Nationalist government for being a traitor and almost sentenced to death for the crime of “traitor”. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but his sentence was later commuted to 10 years in prison because the new president, Hu Shih, had proved for him that he had preserved the books and equipment of Peking University, but such a merit could not change his essence of “traitor”.

A brief period of peace at the beginning of his stay in China

On January 22, 1949, Li Zongren took over the presidency of the Republic of China and entered into peace talks with the Chinese Communist Party. In this atmosphere, political prisoners were released. Zhou Zuoren was among them. After being released, he went to the home of a student, You Bingqi, in Shanghai to stay temporarily.

Hong Yanqiu, a Taiwanese who had taken Zhou Zuoren’s class at Peking University, recalled in his article “The Zhou Zuoren I Knew”: “Knowing that he would be released, Zhou Zuoren asked You Jun to write to me, saying that he wanted to come to Taiwan and asking me if there was any way to resettle him. I approached my old friend Dr. Guo Huoyan and asked him to borrow a villa in Beitou to live in, and Guo agreed, so I immediately wrote back to Youjun, telling him that he already had a residence, and that my old friend Zhang Ijun and I could take care of the daily living expenses, but he was not able to come to Taiwan immediately after his release, and then he was cut off from the news.”

But for reasons unknown, Zhou Zuoren did not go to Taiwan and refused Hu Shi’s proposal to leave the mainland, instead returning to Beiping under Chinese Communist occupation. He wrote a long letter of more than 6,000 words to Zhou Enlai, making a self-examination, presumably in an attempt to gain acceptance by the CCP. Since the CCP itself had also colluded with the Japanese army and had sold out the country several times, it did not reject Zhou Zuoren’s defection as a traitor.

After the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party in October 1949, Zhou Zuoren moved back to his old house in Badaowan, Beijing, and concentrated on translating European classics and writing to make ends meet with his manuscript fees. From August 1952, he became a special translator outside the People’s Literature Publishing House in Beijing, and was paid a monthly advance of 200 yuan for his manuscripts, which he paid on a monthly basis.

In 1957, during the “anti-rightist” movement, Zhou Zuoren’s son Zhou Fengyi, who worked in the Beijing Library, was classified as a rightist and his salary was suspended, which greatly increased his financial burden. This was not a small sum of money at that time.

In the article “Zhou Zuoren in his later years”, Wen Jieruo, the editor of the People’s Publishing House, who was responsible for contacting Zhou Zuoren, wrote: Zhou Zuoren translated many Japanese classical works, spanning more than a thousand years. Each work, he translated with ease and without deviation from the original. What is most remarkable is that he was able to find the appropriate words to express the works from the rich Chinese vocabulary, regardless of the era. This shows that Zhou Zuoren’s attainments in both Chinese and Japanese are very high, but unfortunately, his character and learning are not on the same level.

In September 1964, when the “Socialist Education Movement” reached its climax, Zhou Zuoren’s fee was reduced to 200 yuan per month, and his wife, Nobuko Hada, had already died.

He applied for euthanasia after his miserable situation during the Cultural Revolution

Before the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, the last translation Zhou Zuoren was contacted by the publisher was “The Tale of the Heike”, and he translated the first seven volumes before the Cultural Revolution.

One day in February 1966, Zhou Zuoren went shopping on the street and accidentally fell twice, only to return to his residence with the help of a neighbor. Probably because he was worried that the falls were caused by high blood pressure, Zhou Zuoren had his blood pressure measured by a doctor, and the result was normal. After recuperating, he continued to write articles for a living.

After the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution in the same year, the publisher’s business came to a halt and stopped paying Zhou Zuoren and Qian Dasun their advances in June of that year. By this time, the works they had translated had already been denounced as “poisonous grass”, and the leaders of the publishing house, who had used their expertise to organize translations under the instructions of their superiors, were denounced as “recruiting surrender and rebellion”, and were put into the “cowshed”. The leaders of the publishing house who used their expertise to organize translations under the instructions of their superiors were denounced as “surrendering and rebellious” and were put in the “cowshed.

The article “Zhou Zuoren in his later years” reveals that after the publisher’s payment was cut off, the eight members of Zhou’s family had to rely on the meager wages of Zhou Fengyi and Zhang Miscantha to maintain their lives, which were very tight. Since Zhou Zuoren did not belong to any unit, he was not entitled to publicly funded medical treatment. Once, Zhang Miscantha accompanied Zhou Zuoren to go to the Union Medical College Hospital and was diagnosed with a benign prostate tumor. A friend who was not well-off lent him 50 yuan for medical expenses.

On August 22, 1966, under the encouragement of Mao, the “rebellious” Red Guards also stormed into Zhou Zuoren’s home in Badaowan, and the first thing they smashed was his mother’s tablet. Zhou’s mother died in 1943, and her tablet, together with the tablets of Zhou Zuoren’s daughter Ruozi and Zhou Jianren’s son Fengzi, had been enshrined in the Buddhist niche of Zhou Zuoren’s house. It was not expected that the “Four Olds” would smash all these tablets.

On the 24th, the Red Guards came to Zhou’s house again, seized the house, and pulled Zhou Zuoren to the yard under the big elm tree, with belts, sticks and beatings. Seeing that Zhou Zuoren was old, the Red Guard at the head reminded his juniors, “Don’t hit the head, you have to leave him alive; so that he can explain his problems.” The 54-year-old Zhou Feng Yi’s right leg was broken and he fainted at that time, and had sequelae until more than 20 years later, when his leg often became numb and he had difficulty walking. Naturally, several of Zhou Zuoren’s grandchildren also kneeled next to him to “keep him company”.

Not only that, the Red Guards also occupied a large room behind the back of the covered room to monitor the Zhou family outside the “introspection”. Zhou Zuoren had to huddle under the eaves of the back room, and then, unable to support himself, he fell to the ground. For three days and nights, they relied on the food quietly brought by the old nanny to sustain them.

Later, when it started to rain, Zhang Mangfang went to the Red Guards and begged them to give them a place to stay. The Red Guards then let Zhou Zuoren sleep in the shower room, while the others stayed in the east room. In late summer and early autumn, the bathhouse was extraordinarily humid with many mosquitoes, and Zhou Zuoren, who was once a pampered man, was bitten to the bone.

Soon after, Zhou Feng Yi, as a “rightist”, was taken back to Beitu and put in the “cowshed”. Half a month later, Zhang Mangfang once again pleaded with the Red Guards to build a bed for Zhou Zuoren in the north corner of the kitchen, so he could sleep there.

The Red Guards also set a standard of living for Zhou’s family: the old nanny was 15 yuan, and Zhou Zuoren was 10 yuan. They greeted the grain store: the Zhou family was only allowed to buy coarse food. Zhou Zuoren’s bad teeth, three meals a day can only drink some corn flour paste with stinky tofu. Due to malnutrition and daytime confinement in the hut, both of his legs soon swelled up. Zhang Miscantha, a teacher in the middle school, had to go to school every day to focus on learning. But on her way home, she went to the pharmacy from time to time to buy some vitamin tablets for her father-in-law, or to the grocery store to buy some fluffy pastries. The company’s main business is to provide a wide range of products and services to its customers. Each time Zhou Zuoren gratefully chanted: “I might as well die early, so as not to involve you guys.”

It is said that between September and October of that year, he twice to the police station to write a “petition”, which may be the last manuscript in his life, “petition” to the effect that he is over eighty years old, in the extension of life, but also just add to the burden of the family, so I implore the public security organs. Therefore, he asked the public security authorities to allow him to take sleeping pills for “euthanasia”. But he did not get a reply.

As time passed, the Red Guards’ surveillance became less strict. Whenever the Red Guards went out, Zhang Mangfang helped Zhou Zuoren to go outside to get some fresh air. When it was cold, she also installed a stove for Zhou Zuoren, and used old newspapers to paste the window seams tightly. In this way, the severe winter of 1966 was finally passed.

The end

On May 6, 1967, it seemed to be no different than usual. In the morning, Zhou Zuoren drank the cornmeal paste boiled by the old nanny, who did not notice anything unusual. But at 2:00 p.m., a neighbor who lived in the same courtyard happened to look in through the glass window. He saw the old man lying motionless on the paving board, his posture was very unnatural. He felt bad, he rushed to call Zhang Miscantha, and called her back from school.

Zhang Miscantha rushed home and found that Zhou Zuoren’s whole body had been cold for a long time, so he was about to come down to the ground to relieve himself when he suddenly fell ill, and did not even have time to wear shoes. He was 83 years old.

Under the circumstances, the Zhou family had no way to send the body to the hospital to find out the cause of death, so they had to hastily cancel the account and send it to Babaoshan Mountain to be cremated, the urn also temporarily existed there. But according to the regulations, three years later must be retrieved, or will be dealt with. Three years later, Zhou’s family or team, or go to the May 7 cadre school, go their separate ways, Zhou Zuoren’s ashes do not know where to go.

Zhou Zuoren wrote a poem “80th birthday poem” in 1964, the last two lines of which are “head down, only greedy for games, forgetting the slanting sun on the mound of earth”. Perhaps Zhou Zuoren had a premonition at that time: he was greedy for word games and could not escape another calamity in his life after all.