Lin Yutang quotes page 1
1895 - 1976, Born to a Presbyterian pastor, Lin Yutang grew up in a small town
called Banzain in Pinhe, Zhangzho. He was the fifth out of eight children his
parents gave birth to. It was a friend of his father, Reverend Abbe Livingstone, a missionary from America that
introduced Yutang to science and the western world. Yutang went to Tallmadge
College, which was founded by the reformed church, close to the coastal treaty port of Xiamen. He had been there for four years, during which he attended St. John's University
in Shanghai. Yutang received a half-scholarship to attend Harvard University
for a doctoral degree. He later had to withdraw from Harvard, owing to financial problems. Right
after leaving Harvard, he went to work with the Chinese Labor Corps in France,
then eventually to Germany, where he studied Chinese Philology and
bagged a doctoral degree, at the University of Leipzig. Between the years 1923 and 1926 Dr. Lin taught at the
Peking University in Beijing: his subject was English philosophy. He was
later promoted to the post of Dean of Arts with the university. After 1927, he devoted himself completely to what he was naturally good at, writing. His writing
broadly evolved over the time, placing him at the pinnacle of his
literary career. During this period he was engaged in writing several essays for Chinese literary magazines.
He later gave birth to the China Critic, an English journal,
along with some of his colleagues in 1930. The focus of the journal was on the social and major political concerns of the time, which drew out a big number of Western scholars. In a
few years down the line, he also started writing for a western-style
satirical magazine, known as The Analects Fortnightly, which is believed to have offered him more
room for self-expression. Buoyed by the success of both the magazines,
he added two more magazines to his work portfolio: This Human World in 1934 and Cosmic Wind in 1936. Both of these magazines highlighted his contemporary
writing. He was made the head of the Arts and Letters division of UNESCO
in 1954. He went on to publish many more great literary works - including My Country, My
People in 1935 and The Importance of Living. He
also built a Chinese typewriter, which overcame the first hurdles and failures stemming from the civil strife
in China: he worked with a small engineering firm to get the model built
in the mid-1940s. In 1975, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in
Literature for his book, Moment in Peking. This book described the tumultuous state of China during
the emergence of communism and nationalism and the start of the
Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945.
If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have
learned how to live.
Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
Probably the difference between man and the monkeys is that the monkeys are merely bored,
while man has boredom plus imagination.
Today we are afraid of simple words like goodness and mercy and kindness. We don't believe
in the good old words because we don't believe in good old values anymore. And that's why
the world is sick.
Evil breeds sorrow and good breeds happiness. We have to be satisfied with some such
statement of the moral laws of the universe.
The wise man reads both books and life itself.
The three great American vices seem to be efficiency, punctuality, and the desire for
achievement and success. They are the things that make the Americans so unhappy and so
The world I believe is far too serious, and being far too serious, it has need of a wise and
It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and
proceed to translate that belief into action.
When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set.
Disagreement is not only profitable, but necessary to thinking.
When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty. When there are too many
soldiers, there can be no peace. When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.
By association with nature's enormities, a man's heart may truly grow big also.
Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it,
the road comes into existence.
Such is human psychology that if we don't express our joy, we soon cease to feel it.
It is important that man dreams, but it is perhaps equally important that he can laugh at his
Of all the unhappy people in the world, the unhappiest are those who have not found
something they want to do.
Tolerance has been, I think, the greatest quality of Chinese culture.
Who has not a sense of shame is not a man; who is without a sense of right and wrong is
not a man.
To me personally the only function of philosophy is to teach us to take life more lightly and
gayly than the average businessman does, for no businessman who does not retire at fifty, if
he can, is in my eyes a philosopher.
A man without passion or sentiment is a worm, a machine, an automaton, a blot upon this
I have a hunch that if we leave the planning of world peace to women, we shall have it.
Strength of character is really strength of mind, according to the Confucianists.
Those people who agree with me in believing in lying in bed as one of the greatest pleasures
of life are the honest men.
Merry Old China quietly sips her tea and smiles on. A great old soul!
The scamp will be the last and most formidable enemy of dictatorships. He will be the champion
of human dignity and individual freedom, and will be the last to be conquered. All modern
civilization depends entirely upon him.
You can't make a man a Christian unless you first make him believe he is a sinner.
The strong probability is that before men cease to hate and to become angry and to fence
off their enemies, mankind will have perished.
Reality - Dreams = Animal Being
Reality + Dreams = A Heart-Ache (usually called Idealism)
Reality + Humor = Realism (also called Conservatism)
Dreams - Humor = Fanaticism
Dreams + Humor = Fantasy
Reality + Dreams + Humor = Wisdom
I am here to speak on freedom of speech. It is a great topic, and I am going to make my
speech as free as possible. But you know that this cannot be done, for when anyone
announces that he is going to speak his mind freely, everyone is frightened. This shows that
there is no such thing as true freedom of speech. No one can afford to let his neighbors know
what he is thinking about them. Society can exist only on the basis that there is some
amount of polished lying and that no one says exactly what he thinks.