Lin Yutang
Lin Yutang was a Chinese writer and inventor. His informal but polished style in both Chinese and English made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, and his compilations and translations of classic Chinese texts
Chinese classic texts
Chinese classic texts, or Chinese canonical texts, today often refer to the pre-Qin Chinese texts, especially the Neo-Confucian titles of Four Books and Five Classics , a selection of short books and chapters from the voluminous collection called the Thirteen Classics. All of these pre-Qin texts...

 into English were bestsellers in the West.
Lin was born in the town of Banzai
Banzai Town
Banzai is a town in Pinghe County in the municipal region of Zhangzhou, Fujian. It lies on the Huashan River about 40 minutes above the county town.-Culture & Tourism:...

, Pinghe
Pinghe County
Pinghe County lies in the prefecture level city of Zhangzhou, Fujian province, PRC.-Administrative Division:The administrative centre or seat of Pinghe County is Xiaoxi .-Towns :...

, Zhangzhou
Zhangzhou is a prefecture-level city in southern Fujian province, People's Republic of China. Located on the banks of the Jiulong River , Zhangzhou borders the cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou to the northeast, Longyan City to the northwest and the province of Guangdong to the southwest.Zhangzhou...

, Fujian
' , formerly romanised as Fukien or Huguing or Foukien, is a province on the southeast coast of mainland China. Fujian is bordered by Zhejiang to the north, Jiangxi to the west, and Guangdong to the south. Taiwan lies to the east, across the Taiwan Strait...

. This mountainous region made a deep impression on his consciousness, and thereafter he would constantly consider himself a child of the mountains (in one of his books he commented that his idea of hell was a city apartment).

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

As quoted in Pearls of Wisdom : A Harvest of Quotations From All Ages (1987) by Jerome Agel and Walter D. Glanze, p. 46

When small men begin to cast big shadows, it means that the sun is about to set.

As quoted in Hard-to-Solve Cryptograms (2001) by Derrick Niederman, p. 96

When there are too many policemen, there can be no liberty. When there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace. When there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice.

As quoted in

This is a personal testimony, a testimony of my own experience of thought and life. It is not intended to be objective and makes no claim to establish eternal truths. In fact I rather despise claims to objectivity in philosophy; the point of view is the thing.


It is not when he is working in his office but when he is lying idly on the sand that his soul utters, "Life is beautiful."

Ch. I : The Awakening, p. 2

While in the West, the insane are so many that they are put in an asylum, in China the insane are so unusual that we worship them, as anybody who has a knowledge of Chinese literature will testify.

Ch. I : The Awakening, p. 3

A vague uncritical idealism always lends itself to ridicule and too much of it might be a danger to mankind, leading it round in a futile wild-goose chase for imaginary ideals.

Ch. I : The Awakening

I distrust all dead and mechanical formulas for expressing anything connected with human affairs and human personalities. Putting human affairs in exact formulas shows in itself a lack of the sense of humor and therefore a lack of wisdom.

Ch. I : The Awakening

It is not so much what you believe in that matters, as the way in which you believe it and proceed to translate that belief into action.

Ch. I : The Awakening