Brief bio sketch

Lloyd Haft (1946- ) was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin USA and lived as a boy in Wisconsin, Louisiana and Kansas. In 1968 he graduated from Harvard College and went to Leiden, The Netherlands for graduate study in Chinese (M. A. 1973, Ph. D. 1981). From 1973 to 2004 he taught Chinese language and literature, mostly poetry, at Leiden. His sinological publications include Pien Chih-lin: A Study in Modern Chinese Poetry (1983/2011; published in Chinese translation as 发现卞之琳: 一位西方学者的探索之旅 in 2010) and Zhou Mengdie’s Poetry of Consciousness (2006). His most recent sinological book, a liberal modern Dutch reading of Laozi's Daode jing, was published as Lau-tze's vele wegen by Synthese in September 2017. His newest book of poems in Dutch, Intocht (Introit) has been available as a POD from the American Book Center since June 2018.

He has translated extensively into English from the Dutch of Herman Gorter and Willem Hussem, and from the Chinese of various poets including Lo Fu, Yang Lingye, Bian Zhilin and Zhou Mengdie.

Since the 1980s he has also been active as a poet writing in Dutch and English. He was awarded the Jan Campert Prize for his 1993 bilingual volume Atlantis and the Ida Gerhardt Prize for his 2003 Dutch free-verse readings of the Psalms (republished by Uitgeverij Vesuvius in 2011). His newer poems are published (some republished) on this blog. His newest book of poetry in Dutch is Intocht (Introit), issued by the American Book Center in June 2018.

After early retirement in 2004, for a number of years Lloyd Haft spent much of his time in Taiwan with his wife Katie Su. In addition to writing and translating, his interests include Song-dynasty philosophy and taiji quan. For many years he sang in the choir of a Roman Catholic church of the Eastern Rite in The Hague.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Justin Stone's Chinese Name

Justin Stone's Chinese Name

(Scraps from a Sinological Scrapbook 漢齋閒情異誌, fragment 26)

Fundamentals of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, by Wen-Shan Huang who was Justin Stone’s teacher, contains a preface by Justin Stone – just as Stone’s T’ai Chi Chih!, published at about the same time (1974), not only includes a foreword by Huang but is dedicated to him as a ‘friend and teacher.’ Huang’s book, unlike Stone’s brief manual, is an imposing tome, 559 pages in all, more like a reference book for a lifetime. Probably nobody ever read it at one sitting.
       It took me forty years to get around to the Appendices at the back, which are in Chinese. (By that time I had at least a reasonable knowledge of Chinese, though I still had to ask my wife what certain key phrases meant...)
       In the third Appendix, where Huang lists some acknowledgments, he calls Justin Stone by a Chinese name, adding the English name in parentheses. The Chinese name is Shi Dong 石東, the two characters meaning ‘stone’ and ‘east’ respectively. Shi is an existing Chinese family name, and Dong is a plausible first name.  If we rearrange the characters to put the first and last names in the usual Western order (‘Dong Shi’), they mean ‘Oriental Stone’ or ‘Eastern Stone.’ Very appropriate, given Justin’s intense study and assimilation of Oriental meanings and values.
       I have no way of knowing whether it was Wen-Shan Huang himself who gave Justin this name, but it is a reasonable guess. Western students of Chinese things often receive a name from their Chinese teacher. (I did.) And there is a technical detail of ‘Shi Dong’ which adds to my suspicion that Teacher Huang himself gave this name to Teacher Stone. In giving names to foreigners, the Chinese like to select Chinese syllables which are not only meaningful but more or less resemble the original sound of the person’s name. In Southern Chinese speech, ‘Shi Dong’ would likely be pronounced ‘Si Dong,’ or if pronounced very fast – as is usual – ‘S-dong.’ To Chinese ears that would sound very close to ‘Stone.’ And Wen-Shan Huang was of South Chinese origin.
       I don’t know if Justin actually used this Chinese name much. (Incidentally, in the older spelling common in those days, 'Shi Dong’ would have been ‘Shih Tung.’) But maybe there are other students out there who, like me, have been curious as to what his Chinese name might be. If somebody does know of another attested  Chinese name for Justin Stone, please do let me know!

Lloyd Haft
January 2015