Wednesday, November 7, 2007

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Lin (林).

Lin Yutang (October 10, 1895March 26, 1976) was a Chinese writer and inventor whose original works and translations of classic Chinese texts into English became very popular in the West.
Lin was born in the town of Banzi in Fujian province in southeastern China, near Xiamen. 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.
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 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 a new method of romanizing the Chinese language, and created an indexing system for Chinese characters. He was interested in mechanics, he invented and patented a Chinese typewriter , and 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. His many works represent an attempt to bridge the cultural gap between the East and the West. He was frequently nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
His first two books, My Country and My People (吾國吾民) (1935) and The Importance of Living (生活的藝術) (1937), written in English in a charming and witty style, brought him international fame. 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) (1939) and The Vermillion Gate (朱門) (1953), Chinese-English Dictionary of Modern Usage (當代漢英辭典) (1973).
His wife, Lin Tsui-feng (a.k.a. Mrs. Lin Yutang) 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 collections of Chinese recipes.
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.
Lin YutangLin Yutang
Works by Lin Tsuifeng ("Mrs. Lin Yutang") and their daughter Lin Hsiang Ju

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