The world lost two of the best sinologists within a short space of less than three weeks. Shortly after the death of Professor David Hawkes on 31 July, one of his best friends Professor Liu Ts’un-yan was admitted to hospital in Canberra where he died a few days later on 13 August. Here is a LINK to a notice at the Daoist Studies website posted by one of Professor Liu’s students.
I remember Professor Liu not only as a great scholar but also a wonderful mentor. I recall with fond memory the lively conversation and thought-provoking discussions that I had with Professor Liu, on topics ranging from folk tradition, literature to the history of the Taoist Canon. I still take to heart his advice about the need to study Taoism in the context of China’s literary tradition, as well as his warnings against arbitrarily applying post-modern theories to the study of Chinese history. I am indebted to Professor Liu for his generosity and his kindness.
I therefore would like to join Professor Liu’s colleagues at the Australian National University to express my sincere thanks and to celebrate the life and scholarship of “this hard worker, this open-minded and kindly man, one of the best sinologues of our times”:
From: Kent Anderson, Director, Faculty of Asian Studies, ANU
Date: Tuesday, 18 August 2009
It is with sadness that I pass along the news that many of you might already have heard.
Emeritus Professor Liu Ts’un-yan of the ANU passed away on Thursday August 13, 2009.
Professor Liu had an immense depth of knowledge in Chinese studies developed over a long scholarly career. He was recognized internationally as an authority on the influence of Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist thought upon Chinese literature and culture. He published over 25 books and a great many articles. He played an important role in the development of Chinese studies, especially in Australia, where many of today’s leaders in the field studied under Professor Liu as students.
As an educator, interlocutor, mentor and guide for those studying the vast world of Chinese thought, history and literature Professor Liu was tireless, engaging and profoundly insightful. Professor Liu joined the ANU as Senior Lecturer in Chinese in 1962. From 1966 he was Professor and Head of Department, a post which he held until his retirement in 1982. Professor Liu further served as Dean of the Faculty from 1973-1975. He also spent time as Visiting Professor or Visiting Fellow at universities overseas, including Columbia, Harvard, Hawaii, Paris, Malaysia, Singapore and Tokyo.
Paul Demieville once described Professor Liu as “this hard worker, this open-minded and kindly man, one of the best sinologues of our times.”
I understand that a memorial services for Professor Liu was held on Monday at the ANU. Unfortunately I was unable to attend.