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Lin Yutang

Lin Yutang 林語堂 (1895 - 1976) was a Chinese writer whose original works and translations of classic Chinese texts became very popular in the West.

He was born in Fujian province in southeastern China, near Xiamen. This mountainous region made a deep impression on his consciousness, and forever after he considered himself a child of the mountains (in one of his books he comments that his idea of hell is 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.

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. 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 East and West. He was 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 (生浩的藝術) (1937), written in English in a charming and witty style, brought him international fame. Others include Between Tears and Laughter (1943), The Chinese Theory of Art (1967), and the novels Moment in Beijing (1939) and The Vermillion Gate (朱門) (1953).

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