Thought of the Day 10.10.12 Lin Yutang


“If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.”
-Lin Yutang

English: Lin Yutang 中文: 林语堂

English: Lin Yutang 中文: 林语堂 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lin Yutang was born on this day in Banzai, Fujian province, China in 1895. today is the 117th anniversary of his birth.

China provinces fujian

China provinces fujian (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He grew up in the mountains of Fujian province the son of a Chinese Presbyterian minister. He studied at Saint John’s University, Shanghai and at Harvard University in the US. At first he studied to be a minister, but he renounced Christianity and pursued a degree in English instead.

[Image courtesy: Amoymagic.com]

He bridged the cultural and linguistic divide writing and editing for both English and Chinese magazines and produced Lin Yutang’s Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage.

His successful satirical magazine Analects Fortnightly was the first of its kind in China. In 1933 Pearl Buck introduced him to her publisher who took Lin Yutang on as a client.

English: Lin Yutang (Lin Yü-t'ang) (1895 - 197...

English: Lin Yutang (Lin Yü-t’ang) (1895 – 1976) 日本語: 林語堂 (1895 – 1976) ‪中文(简体)‬: 林语堂 (1895 – 1976) ‪中文(繁體)‬: 林語堂 (1895 – 1976) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1935 he moved to the US.

Lin published the first of his many English-language books, My Country and My People. It was widely translated and for years was regarded as a standard text on China. [Britannica.com]

He moved to New York and published Moment in Peking in 1939. His 1941 novel  A Leaf in the Storm, presents China on the brink of war with Japan. Wisdom of China and India  followed in 1942.

[Image courtesy: Amoymagic.com]

Lin’s fiction includes Chinatown Family — a look at culture, race and religion faced by an immigrant Chinese American family; and his 1968 The Flight of the Innocents.

Ming Kwai Typewriter

Ming Kwai Typewriter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the WWII Lin developed a workable Chinese typewriter, the “Ming Kwai” typewriter.

His belief that literature should be a means of self-expression, not a tool for propaganda put him at odds with political movements in China when he returned to his homeland in 1943 and 1954.

Lin wrote more than three dozen books and is “arguably the most distinguished Chinese American writer of the twentieth century.” [Google Books] He died on March 26, 1976.

[Image courtesy: Amoymagic.com]

 “In his prolific literary career, Chinese author Lin Yutang wrote expertly about an unusual variety of subjects, creating fiction, plays, and translations as well as studies of history, religion, and philosophy. Working in English as well as in Chinese, he became the most popular of all Chinese writers to early 20th-century American readers.” [Britannica.com]

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

4 responses to “Thought of the Day 10.10.12 Lin Yutang

  • Michael Lai

    Your post reminds me of the book ” The Art of Living” written by Lin. I am going to find it and reread it. Many thanks for the posting!

    • ritalovestowrite

      Thanks Michael, I learned a lot about Lin while researching this post. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Cheers & Peace, Rita

      • Michael Lai

        Hi Rita, I read “The Art of Living” when I was relatively young. I don’t think I could fully appreciate what he was on about. Now, in my retirement, I must reread it. Thanks again for sharing your post about Lin. Regards, Michael

  • Waywardspirit

    Its said that when like just isnt good enough, you have to comment cuz there is no love button.
    Thanks for eitber the education or showing me my ignorace so I may correct. Never remember hearing about this author etc.
    I feel delighted to just know this bit you shared. : )

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