“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Royal Asiatic Society Shanghai History Club – Lu Xun and a Wildly Improbable Bookstore – May 7 (via Zoom)

Posted: May 4th, 2020 | No Comments »

It’s hard to imagine a less promising founding for even a humble bookstore, let alone a literary/cultural institution, than the beginnings of the Uchiyama Bookstore (内山书店), launched in Shanghai in 1917. Uchiyama Kanzō was a young troublemaker and elementary school dropout. And a Japanese language bookstore in Shanghai, in the era of 1919, didn’t exactly seem promising. Yet by 1927, when Lu Xun first visited, the Uchiyama Bookstore had already become an institution in east Asian literary modernism. From that time until Lu Xun’s death in 1936, he spent virtually every day at the bookstore, where he had a designated chair and presided over literary discussions with some of the region’s literary giants. Uchiyama Kanzō saved Lu Xun from the murderous clutches of the Guomindang on more than one occasion.


Join RAS members and friends for a look at this wildly improbable bookstore, based on the essay “A Wildly Improbable Bookstore” in the 2019 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society China. We’ll have plenty of images of the store and the era.

Time: 7 May 19:00 (China time)

About the speaker:Aside from his role at the Antai College of Economics & Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, John Van Fleet spends his hobby hours investigating interesting, often less explored and considered aspects of the history of China and Japan, their current relationship between and potential for the two Asian powers, leveraging his ten years of residency in Japan (1991 – 2000) and in China from then until now. His first book, Tales of Old Tokyo, was published in 2015, while he’s developing his second ‘project’ Quarreling Cousins: China and Japan from Antiquity to 2020, in stages – this talk and the essay in the 2019 Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society China are one of those stages.

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