Scholarship and education
Posted by Joel Martinsen on Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM
Ji Xianlin in his study
Ji Xianlin (季羡林), a renowned linguist, historian, and translator, died on Saturday at the age of 98.
Ji was a specialist in ancient Indian languages and Sino-Indian cultural exchange, and as a translator, he rendered major works, including the Ramayana, into Chinese from the original Sanskrit.
Although he spent much of the past decade in the hospital, he remained active, and this past June sat for an interview with CCTV program host Wang Xiaoya.
Ji's integrity, accomplishments, and longevity made him a "national treasure" (国宝). However, in his essay collection Notes From a Sickbed (病榻杂记, 2007), Ji rejected the honor:
In the same volume he also declined the titles "leading scholar" (学界泰斗) and "guoxue master" (国学大师), and concluded, "Removing these three laurels has returned me my freedom. Cleansing the froth from my body reveals my true appearance, and everyone is happy."
A China Daily article marking Ji's passing quoted Zhang Guanglin, an expert in East Asian languages, on the titles:
In a blog post, author Wu Yan suggests that calling Ji a master of national learning (guoxue) misses what his scholarship was really about:
Ji Xianlin, Wu concludes, ought to be known as a great scholar of world culture instead of merely a "guoxue master."
Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!