Saturday, February 7, 2009

Featured Pipe Smoker: Lin Yutang

Lin Yutang (1895-1976)
"When the mirror meets with an ugly woman, when a rare ink-stone finds a vulgar owner, and when a good sword is in the hands of a common general, there is utterly nothing to be done about it."
Lin Yutang was born in China, the son of a Christian minister. He studied at Saint John's University in Shangai for his Bachelor's Degree, then went to Harvard and later to the University of Leipzig in Germany to attain his doctorate.

Lin's writings popularized classical Chinese literature in the west. He worked to formulate a new method of Romanizing the Chinese language and created an indexing system for Chinese characters. He invented a Chinese typewriter and also invented a toothbrush with a built-in toothpaste dispenser.

Dr. Lin left Christianity to follow the paths of Taoism and Buddhism, but later in life rediscovered Christianity.

Dr. Lin wrote numerous books in both English and Chinese, both non-fiction as well as novels. Among his non-fiction works are commentaries on Confucianism and Taoism.

He was buried on the premises of his last home in Taiwan, which has since been turned into a museum.

Wikipedia, of course, has an entry on Lin Yutang, and includes a bibliography.

Brainyquotes has a collection of quotes by him. Here is one of my favorites:
If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.

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