"A Madman’s Diary" is China's first modern short story. The author Lu Xun has been well respected and regarded as one of the most well-known political figures in China (Goldman 446-461). Lu Xun has been praised as the warrior against traditional culture and feudal system.
Unique narrative structure
"A Madman’s Diary" is very special in its narrative structure. Its setup is very different from the traditional narration in that it avoids the use of classical Chinese. Furthermore, the "I narration" is used in the story which makes it very effective to involve the readers in the scenes of the story. Lu Xun did not only open a new chapter in modern Chinese literature but also created a new style of narration. Lu Xun had comprehensive knowledge of Chinese and western cultures. He cleverly borrowed the title of the story from Russian writer Nikolai Gogol whose same title story that was successful in narrating the insanity process of a civil servant. Although the diary style and the first person narrator of Lu Xun's "A Madman’s Diary" were like Nikolai Gogol's, Lu Xun went further away in deepening the content and the theme by adopting creative skills. The story is made of two parts. The first part is the preface which is narrated in classical Chinese, and the second is the main story that consists of thirteen diaries narrated in vernacular Chinese. This kind of setup of narration makes feudal system conflict more vigorous and results in the deep art impression. In the story, there is no time order like the traditional Chinese story. Moreover, the detailed plot, including time and place, is not narrated in detail. The madman's accusation is not limited to certain time and place but extends to the whole 4000 years of history. This style of narration signals the start of modern Chinese novels that penetrates through the past, present, and future (Sun & Xu 40-45).
Metaphors, analogs and irony narrations are extensively applied in the story...