From Rural China to the Ivy League

From Rural China to the Ivy League: Reminiscences of Transformations in Modern Chinese History by Yü Ying-shih, translated and edited by Josephine Chiu-Duke and Michael S. Duke (Cambria Press), has just been published.

Professor Yü’s book, originally published in Chinese, covers the period from his childhood in rural Anhui Province China to his professorship at Harvard University, and it has been read extensively in Chinese, both in serial form in the Mingbao Monthly and in book form. The book sold more than 10,000 copies in the first month after its publication by Yunchen Publishing Company in Taipei, Taiwan, in late 2018. The book was awarded the twelfth Hong Kong Book Prize in June 2019. This book, expertly translated by Professors Michael S. Duke and Josephine Chiu-Duke (University of British Columbia), is much more than the memoir of the scholar who has been hailed as the most important living Chinese historian of our times—it is also an invaluable record of a history of our times, witnessing the cultural, political, and social transformations of what Professor Yü notes as the period of the most violent turmoil and social upheaval in modern Chinese history. This complex period is now made accessible to English-language readers, who will also benefit from the helpful notes by the translators. The book also includes rare photos from Professor Yü’s personal collection.

Read an excerpt (“there were still some people who remembered when I ran into this serious ‘literary disaster’ at the age of thirteen or fourteen.”— Yü Ying-shih) from chapter 1, “Rural Life in Qianshan County, Anhui Province” here.

Table of Contents

Preface: From “Interviews” to “Memoir”

Chapter 1. Rural Life in Qianshan County Anhui Province

—Part One: Nine Years in Qianshan
—Part Two: A Literary Disaster
—Part Three: the Nature of the May Fourth Movement

Chapter 2. Communism and the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance

—Part One: How I Learned to Understand Communism
—Part Two: Background of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance

Chapter 3. Northeast Zhongzheng University and Yanjing University

—Part One: Studying in Northeast Zhongzheng University
—Part Two: Living at Leisure in Beiping
—Part Three: In Shanghai 1948 to 1949
—Part Four: Things Seen and Heard at Yanjing University
—Part Five: Scholars of Yanjing University
—Part Six: Experiences with the New Democracy Youth Corps

Chapter 4. Hong Kong and the New Asia College

—Part One: Transferring to the New Asia College
—On First Becoming Qian Mu’s Disciple
—Tang Junyi and the Rise of New Confucianism
—Part Two: Seeking Knowledge Off Campus
—Part Three: Political and Cultural Development of a Liberal Intellectual
—Part Four: Hong Kong Popular Anti-Communist Publications

Humanity and Freedom Front Weekly

—The Youlian Publishing Group and its Founders
—The Scope and Influence of the Youlian Publishing Group
—The Unique Impact of the Motherland Weekly

Chapter Five. Harvard University Years

Part One: On First Visiting Harvard

—Reception by Harvard-Yenching Institute
—Xing Muhuan: Like An Old Friend at First Meeting
—Looking Back on a Year of “Visiting Scholar” Work
—Seeking Advice from Professor Yang Liansheng
—Auditing Three Classes
—Talcott Parsons’ “Social Systems”
—Crane Brinton’s “Recent European Intellectual History”
—Myron P. Gilmore’s “Renaissance and Reformation”

Part Two: Studying for the Doctorate

—Ronald Syme’s “History of Rome”
—Morton White’s Philosophy of History
—Carl Friedrich’s “History of Ancient Western Political Thought”
—John King Fairbank’s Research Seminar
—Studying Japanese
—Following Gilmore and Reading the Renaissance
—Ph.D. Dissertation

Part Three: Historical Development of Chinese Humanities Scholars at Harvard

—The First Period: Beginning of Modern Chinese Humanities Research
—The Second Period: Discussing Traditional Learning to Cultivate New Knowledge
—The Third Period: A Completely New Turn
—Gao Yougong Studies to “Improve Himself”
—Zhang Guangzhi: Friendship and Reflections on Learning
—The Distinctive Features of the New Period
—Harvard Only Part of a General Trend

Praise for the Book

“An immense contribution to scholarship, this book is much more than the memoir of someone considered by many to be the most important Chinese historian of our times. In addition to tracing Professor Yü’s intellectual pursuits and providing a window into his lifelong effort of understanding, revitalizing, and redefining the Chinese cultural and intellectual tradition, this book is an essential record of the history of our times, bearing witness to the cultural, political, and social transformations of what Professor Yü notes as the period of the most violent turmoil and social upheaval in modern Chinese history.” —Professor Chin-shing Huang, Academia Sinica

“With this commendable contribution to the field, English-language readers now have access to the mature reflections of Professor Yü Ying-shih, the leading Chinese historian and humanities scholar, who was the first Asian to be awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity by the Library of Congress and the first humanities scholar ever chosen for the Tang Prize by Academia Sinica. Yü’s reflections tell us much about the history of twentieth-century China as well as the lives of ordinary people, and they illuminate the views and experiences of many major Chinese scholars of the last hundred years…. Readers will learn how Chinese scholars dealt with cultural and practical issues as well as national and international matters. This book provides rare insights on Chinese scholars in America and abroad, which will be valuable for both scholars and general readers.” —Professor Hoyt Tillman, Yuelu Academy (Hunan University) and Arizona State University

About the Author

Yü Ying-shih (1930–2021) was Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University and arguably the premiere historian of Chinese social and intellectual history of the classical period. Awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for achievement in the Study of Humanity and the inaugural Tang Prize International Award in Sinology, he published more than thirty books and five hundred articles and essays on Chinese history, thought, politics, and culture. His most recent works include Lun tian ren zhi ji (Between heaven and the human: An exploration of the origin of ancient chinese thought; 2014), Zhu Xi de lishi shijie (The historical world of Zhu Xi: A study of the political culture of Song intellectuals; 2003, 2011), Shi yu Zhongguo wenhua (Chinese intellectuals and Chinese culture; 2003, 2010, and 2013), and thirty-three of his English-language essays are published in Chinese History and Culture Volume 1: Sixth Century B.C.E. to Seventeenth Century C.E. and Volume 2: Seventeenth Through Twentieth Century (Columbia University Press, 2016), with the editorial assistance of Josephine Chiu-Duke and Michael S. Duke.

About the Translators

Josephine Chiu-Duke is Professor of Chinese Intellectual History in the Asian Studies Department at the University of British Columbia.
Michael S. Duke is Professor Emeritus of Chinese and Comparative Literature from the Asian Studies Department at the University of British Columbia.

To Order the Book

From Rural China to the Ivy League: Reminiscences of Transformations in Modern Chinese History by Yü Ying-shih is available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book editions.
Save 25% on publisher-direct orders for print editions (hardcover and paperback)—use coupon code SAVE25 at the Cambria Press website

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