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Lin Yutang Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1939. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 1218 P&P).


Lin Yutang (10 October 1895–26 March 1976), novelist, linguist, and philosopher, was born Lin Ho-lok in Amoy, Fukien Province, China, the son of Lin Chi-shing, a Presbyterian minister, and Young Shun-min. At age seventeen, he changed his given name, meaning peaceful and happy, to Yutang, meaning elegant language, and came to be known as Lin Yutang. Lin attended English-language schools and graduated from St. John’s University, a private western-oriented institution in Shanghai, in 1916. In the same year he became a teacher at Tsing Hua College in Peking. In January 1919 he married Liu Tsui-fung, a wealthy classmate of his sister; eventually the union produced three children. In the fall of 1919 he embarked with his wife to study comparative literature at Harvard....


Swenson, David Ferdinand (29 October 1876–11 February 1940), translator and professor of philosophy, was born in Kristinehamn, Sweden, the son of Gustaf Ferdinand Swenson, a cobbler and lay preacher, and Augusta Maria Johanssen. His father came to the United States in 1881. In 1882 the rest of the family arrived and settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From the age of nine Swenson helped support the family. At seventeen he taught in a country school. He then attended the University of Minnesota and studied engineering, eventually switching to philosophy. He received a B.S. in 1898 and began his academic career immediately upon graduating as an assistant to ...