Identifier

MSS.2.81

Publication Date

8-10-1921

Document Type

Letter

Transcription

30 Seymour Road,
Shanghai,
10 August, 1921.

P.S. Pardon scrawl.

My dearest Dada:

Wells' Outline of History reached me last
week. Since then I've delved into its depth, and have
found great enjoyment. I want to tell you that for the
first time since I came home, I have felt as I never have
as I have been feeling since the Wells' came. You remember,
do you not, that at college, I used to have fits
and starts when I would practically isolate my-
self for a week or ten days from all my
friends, and shut myself up in my room,
and never went to bed until one or two in
the morning? During these "spells", I used
to be completely wrapped up in some subject
or another which gripped hold of me, and which
I could not throw off until I had read myself
to mental and physical exhaustion. I remember
that Rev. Higgins and Betty said that when
I had those moods, I was cross as a bear and
was actually churlish! I suppose they wanted
me to be sociable, and I was not inclined
to be even civil then. At any rate, I myself
was the only one who actually knew the
keen enjoyment of those moods. I lived in
a world of my own where only certain books
and I existed. I confess that when those
spells were past, I was dead tired; and [page break]
you remember, they always brought their
re-actions; -- in each case extreme
sociability, and merriment.

Well, since I came home, up to the
twice Wells came to pay me a visit, I
did not have enough interest in any one
subject or book to care much what I
read. But oh! Since Wells came, I
have been indulging in a most ecstatic
mood; a mood oblivious of all my surround-
ings, and existing circumstances. I lived
over again the beginning of the world, the
various stages of civilization in each part of
the globe. I was particularly struck by his
treatment of facts relating to Chinese History
as his facts are quite authentic.

I am not surprised that much criti-
cism has been levied upon this work as a
historical document. Probably in his treat-
ment of certain "pre-historical" hypotheses, he
caused, some of the so-called experts, infinite
pain in their tender theories. And altho
the History rushes forward in leaps & bounds,
there are certain spots where he dwells too
much in detail in comparison to certain
other spots where more emphasis might be [page break]
laid. But all in all, the "History" is
a marvelous & stupendous piece of under-
taking! The logical sequence of events, the breadth
and scope of ideas displayed, the general
proportion of "perspective-interpretation" are
certainly note-worthy. As I read the book, I
felt that I had caught a glimpse of a "new
domain", -- to be sure, a brief one; but
none the less tantalizing, I do not think that
I am wrong when I say that I think the
"Outline of History" will not be a negligible
factor in bringing out the Utopian "International-
ism"; for anyone after having read it cannot
help but feel a kinship for the rest of man-
kind regardless of race or place.

But enough of Wells! I hope you are
very bored, for what I have written is merely a
sort of "after-math." So far, none of my friends
in Shanghai have read the book; and I feel
as though I must give vent to my enjoyment,
and since you are responsible for my feelings
you must tolerate my enthusiasm.

Before the Wells came, I had been reading [page break]
de Maupassant systematically. If you remember,
in the introduction, the author Maupassant made this point:
that the [] of his work should be judged from
the artistic point of view, i.e. without reference
to the subject of his theme, & consequently without
taking into consideration whether the reader approves
or disapproves of the "tone" or conditions depicted.
In other words, the author is not responsible
for the morals of existing society; his art should
be judged from this stand point: whether artistically
his descriptions are true to life.

I confess that I was thoroly[sic] and sickeningly
disturbed with Maupassant's attitude towards
life. Decency; purity of thought or action, modesty,
true gallantry, and inmate refinement had absolutely
no place in his "society". Men and women of his
creation were creatures of passion, governed by
sensual desires, dominated by momentary
impulses, and possessed only bestial attributes
Truly [] by so-called civilization.
You are wondering, I know, why I read
all his works if I were so disgusted. Cer-
tainly not out of curiosity, my dear! I am
reading Chinese novels, in Chinese with the
idea that some day when I am sufficiently [page break]
well versed I shall do some translations
into English. Now some of the Chinese
novels are on Maupassant's style; but
extremely well-written, beautifully phrased
and delicately executed. The central theme,
though is a picture of conditions
among society of that time. If possible,
certain portions of these Chinese novels are
even more obscene than Maupassant's
work; yet other portions are delightful
and could be made available for tran-
lation. I wanted to see how Maupassant
handled his subject; and so I made an
intensive study of his books.

Of course in English there are cer-
tain books too that are questionable;
for instance "Clarissa Home" etc, but to
my mind, the English novel of that type
is not really so vulgar as the French
novels, not to mention certain Chinese
novels. I am reading the Chinese novels
somewhat at a handicap just at
present; as certain expressions, words etc
are such that I have never met up [page break]
with in Classics. And consequently
I have to go to my teacher for explana-
tions. And as he is a man of about
forty, it is rather embarrassing. And
so now I am reading without asking
my questions; and trust to luck that
by incessant work & application, I
shall finally understand the context.

You wrote me that you are coming
to San Francisco. Dada, my dear! To
think that only a body of water is to
separate us! I have talked over the
following matter with my oldest sister Mrs.
Kung. I want you to come to China very
much, because I want to see you! But [ande]
from this purely personal consideration,
there is no reason why you should not
catch a glimpse of the East when
you are so near the Orient. I am sure
you will find life here full of interest,
color & movement. In another ten years
perhaps, the Orient will change much [page break]
of its aspect, as Western ideas are fast pene-
trating into our national life & activities.
So you ought to come to China now . You can stay
here as long or as short a time as you desire.
Know if you can manage to get your
passage out here, I can guarantee
to get you back to America. There are
plenty of jobs here for you if you like
to stay in Shanghai for a few months;
& they will not be from 9-5 p.m. kind
either. Probably you can tutor 3 or 4
hours a day some Chinese ladies of wealth
& get $100-$150 per month. The rest
of the time you will be absolutely
free. Of course you live with me,
and so your salary will be quite enough
for your pocket money. Then after
a few months, we can go down to
Canton to stay with my sister Mrs. Sun
for some time; then in the summer we can
go up north to visit Shansi, the cradle of
Chinese civilization. Whether Mrs. Kung is in
her Shanghai home or not is of no importance[page break]
as her house is always open & the
servants are there.

As our present house is rather small,
about 1/3 the size of our Ave. Joffre house,
Mrs. Kung has offered to let us have a
room in her Shanghai house where she
is now living. At any rate, you don't
have to worry about anything, have a good
rest, see the Orient, and perhaps do
some work together in English based on
Chinese fiction.

I hope you will come! I know
that you are wondering whether you would
like me as I am now; as I have changed
since I left college. One cannot help
changing in four years, especially as the
mode of living, the standard of ideals, and
external conditions here are different
from those in Wellesley. I think, though
that we have kept sufficiently near to
each other through constant correspond-
ence not to be either strangers, and shall [page break]
be able to find a common meeting ground.

I was thinking the other day that the
one reason why I delay writing to Rend,
Betty etc. is because as long a time
elapsed that somehow or another I
seem unable to bridge the gap caused
by long separation and dissimilarity of
interest. In other words, if I write them
I have to write too much in detail in
explaining myself etc. But between you
& me, this is not this difficult.

My plan as I have written above
is not the impulse of the moment; &
so I hope you will give it your
serious consideration.

I have something for you &
Teddy; but am awaiting some one to
take it to America; as otherwise you
would have to pay custom fee.

With love Daughter--

P.S. Need I murmur conventional & empty words
of thanks for Wells??? M.

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