On Qian Zhongshu
As I understand that some rumors recently have been spread about my relation with the late Mr. Qian Zhongshu I wish to state as follows. I have met with Mr. Qian Zhongshu and his wife Yang Jiang on two occasions. Our first meeting took place in the summer of 1981, the second meeting in August of 1982. On both these occasions we discussed a European Science Foundation project for which I served as Director: A Selective Guide to Chinese Literature 1900−1949. The project resulted in the publication of four volumes by E.J. Brill, Leiden, in the years 1988-1990. Volume I deals with 100 novels; volume II with 100 short-story collections; volume III with 100 poetry collections, and volume IV with 100 dramas and drama collections.
During my visit to Peking in the summer of 1981 I discussed with Mr. Qian Zhongshu the possibility of adding a fifth volume dealing with essays (散文). Mr. Qian Zhongshu advised me against that plan, saying that there were no such things as Chinese essays. On my second visit, in August of 1982, we continued our discussion on the project. Mr. Qian Zhongshu expressed his gratitude towards me for having taken the initiative to the project and explained that many of the writers and poets included in the project were grateful to know that they were not forgotten in the Western world. I have later been made aware of the fact that Mr. Qian Zhongshu without my knowledge wrote a letter introducing me to to Professor Wang Yuanhua in Shanghai, which I also visited in 1982 and where Professor Wang Yuanhua helped me to get in contact with many writers and poets.
I became a member of the Swedish Academy in 1985. During my meetings with Mr. Qian Zhongshu we never discussed matters relating to the Academy, nor did we discuss my own work as a translator of Chinese literature.
I have always had the greatest respect for both Mr. Qian Zhongshu and his wife Yang Jiang. I also got the impression that they both valued my efforts to spread the knowledge and appreciation of Chinese literature in the Western world.
(The essay on Qian Zhongshu’s novel Weicheng圍城 Besieged City, in A Selective Guide to Chinese Literature 1900−1949, volume I, was authored by the distinguished Russian Sinologist Vladislav F. Sorokin).
The essay on Yang Jiang’s drama Fengxu 風絮，Windswept Blossoms, was written by Professor Edward Gunn, a great authority on Modern Chinese Drama.