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Denis Twitchett, Frederick Mote, F. Wakeman, Jr.(From variou

D T 1925-2006 Times.online F M 1922-2005 Princeton News F W 1937-2006 Nanfang weekend, Guangzhou/Canton

Professor Denis Twitchett

Scholar who, as the Cold War thawed, opened up for study 2,000 lost years in Chinese history (times.online)

UNTIL 1945 scholarly attention to China’s literature, philosophy, history and art had concentrated on two periods or subjects: the long years of a “classical” culture from the 12th to the 3rd centuries BC or the contemporary political, commercial and diplomatic concerns that had arisen in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Exceptionally a few scholars turned their thoughts and work to the intervening 2,000 years. From 1919 on, Arthur Waley had been introducing poetry of the Tang Dynasty to the Bloomsbury Group and the literary world of the West; the exhibition held at Burlington House in 1935-36 displayed to the public the creations of artists of the Han, Song, Ming and Qing periods. But the long tale of imperial achievement, the organisation of mankind in its daily work and the exercise of control over large areas of Asia between 221BC and AD1840 lay outside the purview or interest of historians, with a few exceptional figures such as Édouard Chavannes and Paul Pelliot, of Paris, and Otto Franke, of Hamburg.

It is thanks to such pioneers as Denis Twitchett that the history of China’s empires, neglected in the West for so long, began to take its place in intellectual circles in Europe and North America. Hitherto the general impression — of that “far away land of which we know nothing” — drew on the current observations of diplomats, journalists, missionaries or businessmen, who were observing a realm beset by weakness, incapable of action as a unity and subject to corruption. Had professional accounts of the rise and fall of China’s empires, with an appreciation of their power, been available 50 years previously, the Foreign Office and the US State Department would not have suffered such surprise at the developments of the 1950s.

Persuading a reluctant supervisor that the history of the Tang Dynasty (AD618-AD907) could not be dismissed as the preserve of journalists, Twitchett was one of the first scholars to attempt, and to produce, an analysis of the imperial way of government in China, in terms not only of dynastic rivalries but also of administrative organisation, legal prescription, economic controls and regional distinctions.

Working on the traditional sources of Chinese history, Twitchett took full account of the material found at Dunhuang, by no means as readily available then as it is today. A rigorous scholar endowed with a highly practical frame of mind, Twitchett reconstructed the economic and social conditions in which developments of the Tang Dynasty could be understood. A master of the source material at his disposal, he could detect variations of style that would reveal subtle differences in the origins of a document. Trained at Cambridge in geography, he could realistically assess institutions and ways of government, such as those of tax collection, relating such schemes to the terrain in which they were to operate and judging their feasibility. Nor did he neglect significant historical factors such as the influence that Buddhist establishments exerted on public life; development of the coinage; practice of printing; performance of Tang music; and contacts both with communities of Central Asia and the newly active authorities in Japan. It should not be forgotten that 50 years ago researchers could not call on the wealth of aids, the extensive dictionaries or databases, now regarded as indispensable.

Twitchett taught Tang history to undergraduates and supervised the work of many graduate students who were researching the period. But his interests and expert knowledge were not confined to that period: he contributed to studies of the pre-Tang centuries of disunion, the forceful rule of the northern, non-Chinese, dynasties (907-1368) and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Denis Crispin Twitchett came to Chinese studies after six months’ training in Japanese language and service at Bletchley Park and its forward operational stations, such as that at Colombo.

Engaged on research at Cambridge, Twitchett was one of those who benefited from the terms of the Scarbrough report on the teaching of Oriental languages (1945), thanks to which he became one of the earliest of rising scholars to spend time in Japan, where he worked with senior academics; Umeko Ichikawa, the daughter of one of them, became his wife in 1956.

Twitchett’s appointments included lectureships at the University of London (1954-56) and Cambridge (1956-60), and then the chairs of Chinese at the London (1960-68) and then Cambridge (1968-80), before settling as the Gordon Wu Professor of Chinese Studies at Princeton (1980-94). He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 1967.

In Europe Twitchett had worked with Walter Simon, Etienne Balazs and Piet van der Loon, and he was one of the first Western scholars to make live and valuable contacts with Japanese universities. He had become well known from the 1960s in American universities, which he visited frequently, finding friendship and forging academic co-operation with such scholars as Arthur and Mary Wright, Yang Lien-sheng and Frederick Mote.

The principal publications under Twitchett’s name include Financial Administration under the T’ang Dynasty (1963); Printing and Publishing in Medieval China (1983) and The Writing of Official History Under the T’ang (1992). For many years he served as editor of Asia Major, maintaining the existence of the journal in difficult circumstances and organising its move from London to Taipei. In the days when academic conferences were rare and hard to fund, Twitchett worked fruitfully to arrange such meetings, which resulted in the publication of corporate studies such as Confucian Personalities, which he edited with Arthur Wright (1962).

He was recruited for the original team that planned The Times Atlas of World History in the mid-1970s by the editor, Professor Geoffrey Barraclough. He (uniquely) took responsibility for all the Chinese pages in the Atlas, from Peking Man to the Cultural Revolution, which gave them greater cohesion and consistency historically and thematically than any other regional strand in the book.

Twitchett had already co-edited, with another longstanding Times adviser, P. J. M. Geelan, The Times Atlas of China (1974), a ground-breaking collaboration between The Times, John Bartholomew and the Japanese cartographic publishers Kyobunkako, just as the beginnings of rapprochement were reflected by the visit by President Richard Nixon to the People’s Republic of China. The enormous difficulties of producing such an atlas, when such information was wrapped in Cold War security restrictions and when the transliteration of Chinese names into English was passing through the convolutions of the old Postal Office system used by British colonial administrators and mapmakers, the more formal Wade-Giles system and the new Pinyin phonetic system reflected the cool judgment and extensive linguistic skills of both editors. The index remains a primary resource for any archivist dumbfounded by the eccentricities of Chinese toponyms.

Perhaps the best-known project for which Twitchett was responsible was that of launching the Cambridge History of China. Conceived with John Fairbank, of Harvard, in 1966 this work was at first to be of no more than six volumes; but as research grew apace, twelve volumes were published, with another three to come. In addition to acting as editor for several of these books, Twitchett supervised the planning and execution of many others, critically assessing the value of the chapters as they came in.

It was largely thanks to Twitchett’s energy and foresight that historians can no longer ignore East Asia as one of the formative factors in the humanities, and that specialists of contemporary China have no excuse to judge modern developments without realising the significance of their precedents.

A genial host with a lively sense of humour and a sharp wit, Twitchett suffered from poor health in his later years. His wife predeceased him in 1993; he is survived by two sons.


Denis Twitchett, Gordon Wu Professor of Chinese Studies, Princeton University, 1980-94, was born on September 23, 1925. He died on February 24, 2006, aged 80.

Frederick Mote, key figure in advancing the study of China, dies at age 82

by Ruth Stevens · Posted March 10, 2005; 05:04 p.m. (Princeton news)
Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies Frederick Mote, a leading scholar of Chinese history and culture, died Feb. 10 in Aurora, Colo., after a long illness. He was 82. Mote, a Princeton faculty member from 1956 to 1987, was one of a small number of academic pioneers who were instrumental in transforming the study of China and East Asia in the United States into a mature field with high standards and a distinguished record of scholarly achievement. At Princeton, he played a major role in the development of the Department of East Asian Studies and is remembered by his colleagues and students for his broad knowledge and wise counsel. "Professor Mote influenced and enriched the field by his erudition, his farsightedness and his constructive criticism. He influenced his students by his love, his humor and his thoughtful guidance. He is truly a scholar, a historian and a gentleman," said Hung-lam Chu, who received a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1984 and is now a professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Mote became a student of Chinese history and culture after enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943. He was sent to a military unit at Harvard University and trained under two prominent Sinologists. He went to China in 1944 as a noncommissioned officer in the Office of Strategic Services. After World War II ended, he returned there and became one of the first Westerners to enroll as an undergraduate at the University of Nanjing, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1948 in Chinese history. Mote continued his studies at the University of Washington-Seattle, and received his Ph.D. in Sinology in 1954. After spending the 1954-55 year as a postdoctoral researcher at National Taiwan University and the following year as a Fulbright Exchange Lecturer at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he was appointed an assistant professor of Chinese history and civilization at Princeton in what was then the Department of Oriental Studies. He was promoted to associate professor in 1959 and to full professor in 1963. He twice received Guggenheim Fellowships. Mote spent his early years at Princeton working with others to establish a rigorous Chinese language program and to improve the facilities and expand the holdings of the Gest Oriental Library. He and his colleague, Marius Jansen, a specialist in Japanese history, were key figures in the growth of East Asian studies at Princeton in the 1960s and 1970s. They secured financial support from the John D. Rockefeller and Ford foundations in 1961, the Carnegie Corporation in 1963 and the U.S. Department of Education in 1965. That support enabled the University to acquire a wealth of new materials for the Gest Library, to establish a highly-regarded Chinese linguistics program -- which Mote directed from 1966 to 1974 -- and to add a number of new East Asian specialists to the faculty. The Department of East Asian Studies was established at Princeton in 1969. Beyond Princeton, Mote was active in many organizations, including the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People's Republic of China, of which he was a founding member; the Committee on Studies of Chinese Civilization of the American Council of Learned Societies, which he chaired from 1974 to 1978; the Smithsonian Council; and the Visiting Committee of the Freer Gallery of Art. From 1963 to 1965, he served as an adviser to Thailand's Ministry of Education. Mote's scholarship focused on the political and social history of the later imperial era, with special reference to the Yuan and Ming dynasties. He wrote, edited and translated numerous books, scholarly articles and essays on subjects ranging from classical Chinese philosophy to military history and from studies of great Chinese cities to ways in which poetry, painting and other arts could be used to gain a fuller understanding of Chinese economic, social and cultural history. He was involved in the planning and editing of the Cambridge History of China and wrote 23 entries on Ming history for the Cambridge Encyclopedia of China. His final book, "Imperial China 900-1800" (Harvard University Press, 1999), was based on a lifetime of reflection and provides a comprehensive survey of this period of Chinese history. Hung-lam Chu, Mote's former student, also said of his adviser, "His accomplishment in integrating Chinese classical, historical, philosophical, literary, language and artistic learning for an in-depth understanding of traditional Chinese culture for a better understanding of the problems facing modern China is unique and unsurpassed. His use of poetry and literary collections for the study of the mind and sentiment of 14th- to 17th-century Chinese literati and the political and social milieu in which they lived has attained a level of achievement that his peers could only hope to have had. His last book, 'Imperial China 900-1800,' will stand as a classic of sustained learning, consummate scholarship and insightful commentary to inspire the student of Chinese history and culture for a better appreciation of China's past and a better understanding of China's present." Students and colleagues alike spoke of Mote's generosity in sharing his broad knowledge of China. "Everything he wrote was grounded in the sources, all at his finger tips, recallable without reference to notes," said Norman Itzkowitz, professor emeritus of Near Eastern studies, who remembered first meeting Mote as a junior colleague -- although "he never made those age and academic hierarchy distinctions" -- and soon regarding him as a valued friend. He added, "Fritz will live forever in the hearts and minds of all those who had the great, good fortune to know him." "As a principled intellect and a warm-hearted teacher, Fritz Mote helped broaden my vistas on Sinology and history and sharpen my methodological and research skills," said Hok-lam Chan, who earned a Ph.D, from Princeton in 1967 and is now a faculty member at the University of Washington and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "For this and his professional guidance, I am deeply indebted to him. He left a durable legacy of scholarship remarkable for its critical assessment, but deep love and respect of Chinese civilization, and he will be sorely missed by his students, colleagues and friends." Mote is survived by his wife, Ch'en Hsiao-lan of Granby, Colo., a sister and six brothers. Memorial services were held in Beijing on Feb. 15 and in Taipei on March 5. A memorial symposium in Princeton is being planned for the fall and will feature a series of panel discussions on issues in Chinese history and culture. Memorial contributions may be made to: the Frederick W. Mote Memorial Fund for the East Asian Library, c/o Dr. Tai-loi Ma, 33 Frist Campus Center, Room 317, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544; or to the F.W. Mote Lecture Fund, c/o Director, East Asian Studies Program, 241 Frist Campus Center, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544. Checks for both funds should be made payable to the Trustees of Princeton University.   西方汉学家系列之一       □本报记者 王寅      魏斐德曾经因身体原因与美国驻华大使的职务擦肩而过;他是世界上薪金最高的汉学家之一,是第一个担任美国历史学会会长和社会科学研究委员会主席的汉学家;他解密中国近现代历史上诸多谜团和悬案,他也为冷战时期研究中国的美国学者打开两国学术交流的大门起到了重要作用。      “在我看来,他是一个抒情诗人和秘密活动家的迷人混合体。他写的最好的书在每个角度都含义深刻,无论在长度上还是在精神上,充满着意外,承转着情感。魏斐德可以被称为过去30年中最好的近代中国史学家。”   ———美国著名汉学家史景迁 More please click the link.

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