Category Archives: Lu Xun

As People Walk This Way Again and Again, a Path Appears

John Locke? Lu Xun? Anonymous?

hope07Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement appears on many websites:

As people are walking all the time, in the same spot, a path appears.

The words are usually attributed to the English philosopher John Locke or the Chinese writer Lu Xun. I have been unable to find a citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In 1986 “The Burning Forest: Essays on Chinese Culture and Politics” was published by Simon Leys, the pen name of the critic and essayist Pierre Ryckmans. The following passage was printed in the appendix and credited to Lu Xun. A footnote stated that the sayings of Lu Xun were translated from Chinese by Simon Leys: 1

Hope can be neither affirmed nor denied. Hope is like a path in the countryside: originally there was no path—yet, as people are walking all the time in the same spot, a way appears.

The 2014 citation given further below presented an alternative translation. QI, at this time, has found no support for crediting John Locke with the expression given by the questioner.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1986, The Burning Forest: Essays on Chinese Culture and Politics by Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans), Section: Appendixes: Some Sayings of Lu Xun, (Footnote states that the sayings were translated from the Chinese by Simon Leys), Start Page 215, Quote Page 223, Published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York. (Verified on paper)