Lin Yutang was born in the mountain village of Banzai, in Fujian Province, China, to a not-well-to-do, third-generation Chinese Christian family of many children. The year of his birth, 1895, was a significant turning point in China's history, marking the beginning of its modern period. It was in 1895 that China lost the first Sino-Japanese War, which sent a shock wave throughout the country and especially to the intelligentsia. The general consensus was that the “old traditional” system had to go. China ushered in a period of so-called Cultural Renaissance, which culminated in the 1919 May Fourth Movement. Unlike most leading intellectuals of the movement, whose early education had been in the traditional Chinese classics and then were sent abroad, returning to denounce the “old feudal system, ” Lin Yutang grew up quite detached from the national sentiment. After an exclusively Christian childhood education, he entered St. John's University in Shanghai, an American Presbyterian mission school, where all classes were taught in English with textbooks imported from the West. However, precisely due to the epistemic change under way in China at the time, Lin's Christian/English education became most desirable. After graduating in 1916, he became an instructor of English at Qinghua College. He then won a government scholarship for graduate study at Harvard University, receiving his master of arts degree in comparative literature in 1922. In Europe he earned his Ph.D. in philology from Leipzig University in 1924, then returned to China until 1936, when he left for the United States. These were the formative years during which he established himself as one of China's leading intellectuals and a popular and controversial writer/critic.
Lin taught English at Peking University (1924-27) and became dean of educational affairs at Peking Women's Normal University. He started his writing career as a member of the yusi literary group headed by the Zhou (Chou) broth-