Identifier

MSS.2.70

Publication Date

3-21-1920

Document Type

Letter

Transcription

30 Seymour Road,
Shanghai,
21 March, 1920-

Dearest Dada:

Such a long time since I wrote you!
And yet time has flown so rapidly that I
hardly have realized that fully six weeks
have elapsed since I wrote you last.

And the cause of this neglect?
Well, Mrs. Kung, my oldest sister left for
Peking over a month ago, and left all
five of her children down here for me
to look after. I am now living at
Mrs. Kung's house, but come home every
day to have my Chinese lesson. I have
an excellent teacher, but terribly
strict, and expects me to accomplish
the "almost impossible". He is my brother's
Chinese secretary, and is an excellent
old-fashioned scholar who at the same
time understands all the modern trends of
thought, and understands new forms of expressions.
As you know probably, within the last
ten years, since Western civilization and
scientific discoveries have been introduced
in China, the growth of New Chinese
expressions and the enrichment of
vocabulary has been enormous. And [page break]
even the best of the old-school scholars
are at a lose to understand the significance
of the new terms etc. unless they make
an effort to keep up with the present.

I am studying old Chinese Literature
and have to memorize long passages every
day. We have no rules of grammar for
composition yet a great deal of the
effectiveness of an essay depends upon the
manner in which the thoughts are
clothed. This being the case, how then
is one to write elegantly and easily?
By memorizing the works of our best
authors, and acquire by instinct almost
the "feel" that this and this are correct,
while expressed in some other way would
lose the finish and effectiveness one
desires to acquire. The difficult part
is that slavish imitation and repetition
of even the best literature would not
necessarily produce a good essay. Much
depends upon to what degree the
student has assimilated the idea and
the atmosphere of good literature. Good
writing in Chinese is practically un-
conscious writing. I have expressed this[page break]
so crudely that I doubt whether I have
made my meaning clear-

At any rate, the study of Chinese
is fascinating if one really means to be
a Chinese scholar, and knows that
the elementary period is necessary before
one reaches the really artistic forms.
To the average foreigner, the study of
Chinese is tedious and difficult because
she does not expect to go beyond the
reading of easy books and newspapers.
I wish you were here with me. I
write one composition every day and
have found that the colloquial and
the literary Chinese are widely different.
The colloquial we call 土白, ("tu bai")
and the written the ("wen-li"). If I
were to read of piece of "wen-li" to
my amah, she would not understand
one single word of it whereas she knows
("tu bai") better than I.

Helen [Tailor] wrote that she is
expecting to come to China this August to
teach in "Qin Ling College" at Nanking.
I shall be very glad to see her. I [page break]
think that in all probability altho she
expects to teach Botany etc. She will
have to teach Elementary English as
Qinling has very little English. Their
strong department in Chinese. I think
Tailor would enjoy coming to China, al-
tho she won't see many people in Nanking
outside of the College people. But don't
tell her what I say, for I may be
mistaken and do not want to dis-
courage her.

I certainly am going to have
my picture taken soon- you may
not believe this as I have
said this so often, but I
really truly mean this.

When Mrs. Kung returns, I
shall be free of the children
and shall have time to "[get]"
[around] a bit. Now I am
tied on one hand to the children
and on the other hand to my
studies.

By the way, your speaking [page break]
of turning down a good $25.00 job
for the purpose of writing etc. seems
to be foolish! Not because I am
such a materialistic sort of
mercenary, but because I feel that
since you are feeling restless,
you had better try to get a "cub"
"reporter's" job, and really be
working on a newspaper regularly.
If you have real talent, the positive
work of writing and drudgery will
bring it out. If you have not real
talent, then you would have the
satisfaction of knowing that you
gave yourself a chance to try
out.

I believe that as long as your
family looks upon you as a
"problem" and as long as you are
merely writing "on your own", you
would not make much progress. Get
out and get a $10.00 job as a cub
reporter, and have your articles [page break]
battered up, torn to pieces, and mutilated.
By that time you will be so
darned tired that if you really
have the divine fire, the fire will
roar; if not it will splutter
and go out.

I sound ruthless, and cold
hearted, an unsympathetic brute! But
Dada, I really believe that you
could be a good writer if you had
to work like a dog and have a
regular job.

Write about myself next time--
Daughter

P.S. Has Percy Kwok taken the
package to you yet?
M.

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