Happy Birthday, Simon Leys, born 28 September 1935
- The virtue and power of the Chinese literary language culminates in its classical poetry. Chinese classical poetry seems to me the purest, the most perfect and complete form of poetry one could conceive of. Better that any other poetry, it fits Auden’s definition: ‘memorable speech’: and indeed, it carves itself effortlessly into your memory. Furthermore, like painting, it splendidly occupies a visual space in its calligraphic incarnations. It inhabits your mind, it accompanies your life, it sustains and illuminates your daily experiences.
- Sidney Hook said that the first moral obligation of an intellectual is to be intelligent. Yet communicating with the public is a special talent; very learned scholars do not necessarily possess it.
- Language fluency is the key which will open all doors for you—practically and spiritually.
Leys is the pen name of Pierre Ryckmans, a Belgian writer, sinologist, essayist and literary critic. His books on the Chinese Cultural Revolution, based on his first hand observation, describe the cultural and political destruction. He is also a translator of Chinese literature, such as the Analects of Confucius, and The Treatise on Painting by Shi Tao. He writes in French and English.
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