Lin Yutang


Lin Yutang

Lin Yutang (October 10, 1895 – March 26, 1976) was a Chinese writer and inventor. His informal but polished style in both Chinese and English made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, and his compilations and translations of classic Chinese texts into English were bestsellers in the West.

Lin was born in the town of Banzi in Zhangzhou Fujian province in southeastern China. This mountainous region made a deep impression on his consciousness, and thereafter he would constantly consider himself a child of the mountains (in one of his books he commented that his idea of hell was a city apartment). His father was a Christian minister. His journey of faith from Christianity to Taoism and Buddhism, and back to Christianity in his later life was recorded in his book "From Pagan to Christian" (1959)

Lin studied for his bachelor's degree at Saint John's University in Shanghai, then received a half-scholarship to continue study for a doctoral degree at Harvard University. He later wrote that in the Widener Library he first found himself and first came alive, but he never saw a Harvard-Yale game. [Sinogists Lin Yutang http://www.umass.edu/wsp/sinology/persons/lin.html] He left Harvard early however, moving to France and eventually to Germany, where he completed his requirements for a doctoral degree (in Chinese) at the University of Leipzig. From 1923 to 1926 he taught English literature at Peking University. On his return to the United States in 1931, he was briefly detained for inspection at Ellis Island.

Dr. Lin was very active in the popularization of classical Chinese literature in the West, as well as the general Chinese attitude towards life. He worked to formulate Gwoyeu Romatzyh a new method of romanizing the Chinese language, and created an indexing system for Chinese characters.

He was interested in mechanics. Since Chinese is a character-based rather than an alphabet-based language, with many thousands of separate characters, it has always been difficult to employ modern printing technologies. For many years it was doubted that a Chinese typewriter could be invented. Lin, however, worked on this problem for decades and eventually came up with a workable typewriter -- brought to market in the middle of the war with Japan.

He also invented and patented several lesser inventions such as a toothbrush with toothpaste dispensing.

After 1928 he lived mainly in the United States, where his translations of Chinese texts remained popular for many years. At the behest of Pearl Buck, he wrote "My Country and My People" (吾國与吾民,吾国与吾民) (1935) and "The Importance of Living" (生活的藝術,生活的艺术) (1937), written in English in a charming and witty style, which became bestsellers. Others include "Between Tears and Laughter" (啼笑皆非) (1943), "The Importance of Understanding" (1960, a book of translated Chinese literary passages and short pieces), "The Chinese Theory of Art" (1967), and the novels "Moment in Peking" (京華煙雲,京华烟云) (1939) and "The Vermillion Gate" (朱門,朱门) (1953), Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage (當代漢英辭典,当代汉英词典) (1973).

His many works represent an attempt to bridge the cultural gap between the East and the West. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature several times in the 1970s. [Sinogists Linyutang http://www.umass.edu/wsp/sinology/persons/lin.html]

His wife, Lin Tsui-feng was a cookbook author whose authentic recipes did a great deal to popularize the art of Chinese cookery in America. Dr. Lin wrote an introduction to one of her and their daughter Lin Hsiang Ju's (林相如) collections of Chinese recipes. His second daughter, Lin Tai-Yi (林太乙) was the general editor of Chinese Readers' Digest from 1965 until her retirement in 1988.

Dr. Lin was buried at his home in Yangmingshan, Taipei, Taiwan. His home has been turned into a museum, which is operated by Taipei-based Soochow University. The town of Lin's birth, Banzi, has also preserved the original Lin home and turned it into a museum.

Notes

Works in English by Lin Yutang

* (1935) "My Country and My People", Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., (A John Day Book)
* (1936) "A History of the Press and Public Opinion in China", Kelly and Walsh
* (1937) "The Importance of Living", Reynal & Hitchcock, Inc., (A John Day Book)
* (1938) "The Wisdom of Confucius", Random House, The Modern Library
* (1939) "Moment in Peking", A John Day Book Company
* (1940) "With Love & Irony", A John Day Book Company
* (1940) "Leaf in the Storm", A John Day Book Company
* (1942) "The Wisdom of China and India", Random House
* (1943) "Between Tears & Laughter", A John Day Book Company
* (1944) "The Vigil of Nation", A John Day Book Company
* (1947) "The Gay Genius: The Life and Times of Su Tungpo", A John Day Book Company
* (1948) "Chinatown Family", A John Day Book Company
* (1948) "The Wisdom of Laotse", Random House
* (1950) "On the Wisdom of America", A John Day Book Company
* (1951) "Widow, Nun and Courtesan: Three Novelettes From the Chinese Translated and Adapted by Lin Yutang", A John Day Book Company
* (1952) "Famous Chinese Short Stories, Retold by Lin Yutang", A John Day Book Company
* (1953) "The Vermilion Gate", A John Day Book Company
* (1955) "Looking Beyond", Prentice Hall (Published in England as "The Unexpected island", Heinemann)
* (1957) "Lady Wu", World Publishing Company
* (1958) "The Secret Name", Farrar, Straus and Cudahy
* (1959) "The Chinese Way of Life", World Publishing Company
* (1959) "From Pagan to Christianity", World Publishing Company
* (1960) "Imperial Peking: Seven Centuries of China", Crown Publishers
* (1960) "The Importance of Understanding", World Publishing Company
* (1961) "The Red Peony", World Publishing Company
* (1962) "The Pleasure of a Nonconformist", World Publishing Company
* (1963) "Juniper Loa", World Publishing Company
* (1964) "The Flight of Innocents", G. P. Putnam's Sons
* (1973) "Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage", Hong Kong Chinese University

Works by Lin Tsuifeng ("Mrs. Lin Yutang") and their daughter Lin Hsiang Ju

In English

* (1956) "Cooking with the Chinese Flavor", Prentice Hall (co-written with Lin Hsiang Ju)
* (1960) "Secrets of Chinese Cooking", Prentice Hall (co-written with Lin Hsiang Ju)
* (1972) "Chinese Gastronomy", Pyramid Publications; 1977 reprint: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (co-written with Lin Hsiang Ju, with an introduction by Dr. Lin Yutang)
* (1996) "The Art of Chinese Cuisine", Tuttle (a retitled edition of 1972 "Chinese Gastronomy", co-written with Lin Hsiang Ju, with an introduction by Dr. Lin Yutang)

Works in English by his second daughter Lin Tai-Yi

with Adet Lin, "Our Family" (New York: John Day, 1939).

with Adet Lin, "Dawn over Chungking" (New York: John Day, 1941; rpr. Da Capo, 1975 ).

-- "War Tide, a Novel" (New York,: John Day, 1943).

-- "The Golden Coin" (New York,: John Day, 1946).

-- "The Eavesdropper" (Cleveland: World, 1959).

-- "The Lilacs Overgrow" (Cleveland: World, 1960).

-- "Kampoon Street" (Cleveland,: World, 1964).

Li Ju-chen (Li Tai-yi tr.) , "Flowers in the Mirror" (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965).

External links

* [http://www.g8ina.enta.net/full_lin.htm G8INA's Full Lin Yutang English bibliography]
* [http://www.amoymagic.com/linyutang.htm Lin Yutang Biography & Photograph Collection]
* [https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/twu7/LinYuTang1.pdf Lin Yutang Biography Part 1 PDF (English translation of Anor Lin's work)]
* [https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/twu7/LinYuTang2.pdf Lin Yutang Biography Part 2 PDF (English translation of Anor Lin's work)]
* [http://humanum.arts.cuhk.edu.hk/Lexis/Lindict/ Lin Yutang's Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage]
* [http://www.linyutang.org.tw/user-en/aboutlinyutang_3.asp List of Lin Yutang's publications]
* [http://idler.co.uk/idle-idols/idle-idols-lin-yutang/ Article in The Idler Magazine]
* [http://www.google.com/patents?id=LkVrAAAAEBAJ&printsec=abstract&zoom=4&dq=lin+yutang Lin Yutang's Chinese typewriter]
* [http://www.linyutang.org.tw/user-en/main.asp Lin Yutang's house]
* E. Bruce Brooks, "Sinologists: Lin Yutang" (University of Massachusetts [http://www.umass.edu/wsp/sinology/persons/lin.html]


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