CHINA HERITAGE QUARTERLY China Heritage Project, The Australian National University ISSN 1833-8461
No. 25, March 2011


Xianyi 憲益: In Tribute | China Heritage Quarterly

Xianyi 憲益: In Tribute

On the afternoon of Saturday 20 November 2010, a commemorative gathering in memory of Yang Xianyi 楊憲益 was held in the Khalili Lecture Theatre at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. This celebration of Xianyi's life was jointly organized by the Meridian Society, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association of SOAS and the Royal Asiatic Society to coincide with the first anniversary of his passing.

As the announcement of the event put it:

Yang Xianyi is one China's outstanding literary figures of the past century. Prolific translator, scholar, historian, revolutionary, poet, bon vivant, humourist, brave and independent-minded thinker, Yang Xianyi was an Anglophile and perfect gentleman.

Born in feudal times, he lived through Mao's many revolutions, finally coming to rest in the bosom of his family in the heart of Beijing. A cross-cultural symbol both in China and the West, Xianyi was born in Tianjin, the only son of the President of the Bank of China. He enjoyed a privileged childhood, was educated at Oxford, became a fervent Communist, and with his beloved English wife, Gladys, lived through all the excitement and hardships of twentieth-century China. In family life, pioneering literary work at the Foreign Languages Press, even years in prison, they shared everything until Gladys died, exactly ten years before him.

We will be inviting friends to speak about their memories and personal impressions of Xianyi, showing a short film, displaying the Yangs' books and translations and there will be readings from his poetry and memoirs. Mainly we would like you to come and remember him with us.

We hope this meeting will be a moving and memorable memorial to him, not just for friends and family, but even those of you who know nothing about the Yangs. You will be enriched by learning about this most extraordinary man.

We are grateful to those who spoke on this occasion for permission to reprint their remarks in this issue of China Heritage Quarterly. Only minor, stylistic emendations have been made to the texts. In particular we would like to thank Peng Wenlan for her help and encouragement in publishing this online tribute to this true junzi 君子.—The Editor