China News Agency, Beijing, August 13th, title: Wang Zuoliang: Seeing the true soul in poetry

  "China News Weekly" reporter Xu Tian

  Wang Zuoliang has many titles, such as the head of the English Department of Beijing Foreign Studies University, and the head of the foreign literature group of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council.

  From Tsinghua to Oxford to Beiwai, fate made him a great scholar with the soul of a poet.

  He once said that poetry is precious, in addition to the truth of details, emotions and atmosphere, there is a higher truth, that is, telling the truth and depicting the ideal in the heart with the greatest enthusiasm.

Many of the poems he has translated have this higher reality.

  Keats famous quote or what it stands for:

  "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"—that is all

  Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

  ("Beauty is truth and truth is beauty", which includes/everything you know and should know.)

heart in literature class

  From the 1950s to the 1990s, every BFSU student would hear three familiar names: Wang Zuoliang, Xu Guozhang, and Zhou Jueliang.

They were classmates of the Class of 1935 in the Department of Foreign Languages ​​of Tsinghua University, and they both went abroad for further study.

In 1949, the three returned to China to teach in the English Department of BFSU.

  In 1958, Wang Zuoliang, then the dean of the English Department, wanted to give an intensive reading course to the third-year students.

Zhang Yang, a student at the time, recalled that Wang Zuoliang, who walked into the classroom, wore a light brown suit with a dark green tie, full of demeanor and different customs.

He never brought a notebook to class, only a few cards in his hand, occasionally glanced at it, and most of the time he talked about it from memory.

  At that time, class materials were mainly based on the English editions of Beijing Weekly and the Soviet Union's Pravda, and British and American literature was rarely touched upon.

Once, Wang Zuoliang introduced Shakespeare and said that everyone can read and memorize some of his sonnets.

He also mentioned that he reads "Pride and Prejudice" once a year, and although it is nothing compared to Tolstoy's work, Austen pushes the beauty of the English language to the extreme.

  Zhang Yang, who later became a professor of the English Department of BFSU, told reporters that although Wang Zuoliang only mentioned it lightly, she firmly remembered it. Later, she did everything she could to find foreign literary works and make it her lifelong career.

This seed was sown by Wang Zuoliang.

  After the "Cultural Revolution", Wang Zuoliang was free to teach and study his favorite literature.

In 1980, under his suggestion, the English Department of BFSU opened the course "Introduction to European Culture".

  Jiang Hong, now the director of the Institute of Foreign Literature at BFSU, was a sophomore in the English Department of BFSU in 1983.

She recalled that it was a large class of 150 people, jointly taught by several famous teachers such as Wang Zuoliang and Xu Guozhang.

From this course, Jiang Hong first learned about "Homer's Epic" and "Ten Days", and came into contact with Gothic and Baroque styles.

  She felt that this class opened a window for the students. They seemed to walk into the open space from the confinement, and fresh things from the outside world came to them.

But they did not get lost in this western landscape, but found that the world may be very different, but it has its rationality, and everyone is the same human being.

"Seeing Eternity in a Moment"

  In the 1980s, Wang Zuoliang's academic spring arrived.

According to his student, Professor Qian Zhaoming of the Department of English at the University of New Orleans, 32 of his 44 books were written in the last 15 years.

  His student, Cao Li, a long-term professor at the Department of Foreign Languages ​​of the School of Humanities of Tsinghua University, told reporters that Wang Zuoliang can be described as "a person is a subject".

In several major directions of foreign language and literature, he stands at the top of everything.

  His favorite, however, was always poetry.

The poem could not be written, so he translated it, "it seems that in the translation of the poem, the lost joy can be found."

  He edited "History of English Literature", "History of British Poetry", "History of British Romantic Poetry", etc., and selected and annotated "Anthology of English Poetry" and "Anthology of Scottish Poetry".

His Tsinghua classmate Li Funing commented that reading The History of British Romantic Poetry is like reading a good novel or listening to a symphony.

  Wang Zuoliang said that without imagination, there can be no poetry or literature; however, imagination is not only about thinking high and thinking far, but more importantly, it is a catalytic force that can reach from this to the other, see the big in the small, and see the big in an instant. See eternity.

  In his view, to introduce a country's poetry to readers is to show them the experience, knowledge, thoughts, emotions, imagination, and literary talents of the most sensitive people in the country, and there is a naked soul in it.

  Some literary theory articles are getting farther and farther away from literature, and Wang Zuoliang is not used to the practice of putting on theoretical airs as soon as they appear in the article.

Once, after he spoke at an academic conference on the history of literature, some people reflected that the emphasis was on literary rather than scientific enough.

In his letter to Zhou Jueliang, he said, why all the Chinese and foreign literary histories published over the years read like editorials, talking about literature but not having a literary flavor in itself?

Lu Xun and Wen Yiduo's literary history works are all good prose. Jin Yuelin said that a concept and a formula can also be beautiful.

  In 1988, Wang Zuoliang was invited to study in Britain and France.

Back at his alma mater, he dined with several Oxford professors.

The eloquence of one of the professors reminded him of CS Lewis from his school days.

  Lewis organized the "Socrates Society" among the students to criticize Sartre's existentialism.

What they care about is not to refute others, but to refute themselves, because they regard anyone as an equal interlocutor in the field of thought and culture, and any theory is understandable and debatable.

Writing is also valued by Oxford humanities scholars, emphasizing fresh ideas and active imagination, transparent reason and sense of proportion, respecting readers, and engaging in intellectual dialogue with them.

bearer of the torch

  Hu Wenzhong, former vice-president of Beiwai, said that Wang Zuoliang has a mantra: "Aim and aim".

He has a wide field of vision, and likes to use it to "see" everything.

  Jiang Hong stayed in school after graduation in the late 1980s, and once helped manage the Western-language periodicals of the Institute of Foreign Literature, Wang Zuoliang was always the first borrower.

Every week, she helps Wang Zuoliang complete the borrowing procedures and sends the latest "The Atlantic", "The New Yorker", "National Geographic", "The Times Literary Supplement", etc. Wang Zuoliang must read every issue.

BFFL orders new books every year, and he selects the literature section and Xu Guozhang for linguistics.

  Yang Guobin, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, was a Ph.D. student under Wang Zuoliang. He recalled that Wang Zuoliang liked articles with clear viewpoints, substantial content and good writing style. He liked The New Yorker very much. focus.

  Wang Zuoliang told Yang Guobin not to blindly follow new concepts and theories.

Cao Li remembered that Wang Zuoliang asked students not to use Western theories to imitate them, and not to follow behind.

  In 1984, Wang Zuoliang stepped down from the position of vice president of Beijing Foreign Languages ​​Institute to serve as director of the newly established Institute of Foreign Literature.

  He said: "It seems that I should feel that old age is coming, but it seems that there is still a date in front of me. It is not only a lifelong dream, but also the anxiety and wish of a nation for a hundred years."

  With busy affairs inside and outside the school, Wang Zuoliang had to spend all his time studying.

For a long time, he lived in the Beiwai dormitory, and only came home on weekends. He immersed himself in his desk in his spare time.

Gao Jihai, a doctoral student and a professor at the School of Foreign Languages ​​of Henan University, recalled that he had a strong sense of time and had a weekly schedule. The unwritten rule was to try not to disturb him without any reason or appointment.

  Zhang Yang said that Wang Zuoliang was a person holding a torch in front of him.

Jin Li, dean of the Wang Zuoliang Institute for Advanced Study of Foreign Literature at BFSU, said that Wang Zuoliang is a banner in the field of foreign language academia.

Tsinghua standard

  In 1991, during the 80th anniversary of Tsinghua University, Wang Zuoliang wrote a speech "Thinking of Tsinghua University".

He said that although he doesn't work at Tsinghua University, when he talks about this school, he is still as excited as when he was young, and he can't say enough.

  He misses Tsinghua teachers very much.

Yu Pingbo and Yu Guanying taught freshman Chinese, and they were both cordial and strict.

In the second year of his sophomore year, he studied the History of Western Philosophy. He wrote a 100-page English book report. He Lin not only did not frown, but also praised him in the class.

In his senior year, Wu Mi and Ye Gongchao jointly held a translation class. He and Xu Guozhang achieved the best grades in the class.

  But it was Yan Bosun that he cherished the most throughout his life.

In 1937, the 31-year-old British young poet Yan Bosun came to the Department of Foreign Languages ​​and Literature of Tsinghua University in the midst of the war of resistance against Japan.

At that time, the school was relocated. They were taking classes in Nanyue Mountain in Hunan. They didn’t have a decent foreign language book. Empson relied on memory and used a portable typewriter and carbon paper to type out the full text of Shakespeare’s Othello. One per person.

  Wang Zuoliang felt that Yan Busun had the energy to not let any difficulties hold him back, and he always did these things silently and without any dramatic gestures.

In the future, whenever Wang Zuoliang encountered difficulties in his work, he would always think of this scene.

  Empson brought them English modernist poetry, Eliot's Prufrock, Auden's Spain.

They learned from modernism to see things deeper and more complex, and no longer satisfied with the romanticism of the "Crescent School".

A group of poets grew up.

  The most striking of these is Zha Liangzheng.

In the Tsinghua Garden, Wang Zuoliang noticed that a "thin northern youth" was writing Shelley-style romantic poems.

At the Southwest Associated University, Zha Liangzheng began to write poems under the pseudonym "Mu Dan", and his style of poetry changed.

  Although he has been away from his alma mater for many years, Wang Zuoliang has always maintained Tsinghua's academic standards in his heart.

He said that no one has set this standard, and it depends on the example of countless teachers and friends who "does speak louder than words", which is excellence and publicity.

an era is over

  Everyone around him knows that Wang Zuoliang is a person who rarely exposes his bad mood.

He never talked about what happened during the "Cultural Revolution", and only enjoyed the joy of reading "the elegant black font printed on the snow-white paper".

He gets up at five in the morning every day and leaves half an hour after breakfast for the most difficult books to read slowly.

Even if he doesn't write books for a long time, he will write hundreds of words every morning, basically uninterrupted.

  The first time Hu Wenzhong heard his sad words was after Zhou Jueliang's death in 1992.

He said that no one will speak from now on.

  In 1994, Wang Zuoliang, who had been serving as a school-level advisor to BFSU, retired.

The office was vacated, and his library was moved to the small room on his lunch break.

Hu Wenzhong went to see him and proposed to find someone to organize the books and put them on the bookshelf.

He said no, he would not use these books again.

  In September 1994, old classmate Xu Guozhang passed away.

In January 1995, Wang Zuoliang was admitted to hospital due to illness and died a few days later.

  In the last days, Wang Zuoliang felt that there was not enough time, and he revealed to the people around him several times that he was worried that he would not be able to complete the "History of English Literature" in his lifetime.

He had just finished the part on Pope a month before his death.

  He also finished compiling "Zhonglou Ji" and wrote an article on Mu Dan.

Before hospitalization, he tidied up his desk.

  After he left, Wang Zongyan, who is also a master of foreign languages, said: "Sirens will always go, and gentlemen will last forever."

Student Wang Kefei said with emotion that the most prestigious older generation of English speakers at BFSU have all gone, as if an era has ended.

  Wang Zuoliang entered the Department of Foreign Languages ​​and Literature of Tsinghua University in 1935. Soon after entering the school, he caught up with the vigorous "January 29th" movement, and two years later the "July 7th Incident".

  Young Wang Zuoliang's favorite road is the road outside Xinzhai, Tsinghua University. When he turns around, he can see the west mountain. The sunset is golden and purple, and he embraces Tsinghua quietly like a screen.

Many years later, he would also stop at Beiwai to watch the sunset on the west mountain.

  The glow of the setting sun, like the warm and serene light of the tall copper table lamps at the two ends of the large desk in the Tsinghua Library, was already in his heart when he was 19 years old.