John Deeney

Obituary of John J. Deeney

1 In Memoriam: John J. Deeney (李達三) (1931–2022) Cecile Chu-Chin Sun (孫筑瑾) John (Jack) Joseph Deeney, professor of English and comparative literature, passed away peacefully on May 24, 2022, at home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife Cecile Chu-Chin Sun (孫筑瑾) by his side. He was 91 years old. Jack Deeney taught until his 80th year, shortly before dementia slowly but steadily claimed him. Just like the well-known Chinese metaphor of a silkworm spinning its last silk thread with all the energy it has to give, Jack gave his all to teaching. A fitting epitaph for Jack Deeney would be a bilingual couplet in the words of Chaucer and Confucius to which he often referred and that he himself fully embodied: “gladly would he learn 學不厭/and gladly teach 教不倦.” In fact, Jack may have been the first person to associate Chaucer’s words with those of Confucius when he began to study The Analects in Chinese. Above the couplet in the epitaph would be a two-character phrase, serving much like its title, “做人” of which Jack often spoke in Chinese and that he genuinely believed. For him this Chinese two-character phrase meant learning to be a good human being in the spirit of Charles Dickens’s notion of “mankind is my business.” 2 As we remember Jack Deeney, we realize these three lines, forming a sort of triad, cogently tell the whole story of what Jack was all about as a teacher, a scholar, and, ultimately, as a human being. Early life and Jesuit education The youngest of three brothers, Jack was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 6, 1933, to Roger Deeney and Lucy Naulty Deeney. As a boy, Jack attended the Edgar Allen Poe Elementary School in his native Philadelphia. In 1941, he moved with his mother to San Francisco, California to be with his father and two brothers. Later, he attended a Jesuit high school, St. Ignatius, from which he graduated in 1949. Soon after high school, he entered the Jesuit order, becoming a novice and later continuing his college studies under Jesuit tutelage. Jack earned a Bachelor of Arts in literature and philosophy in 1954, followed by a Master of Arts in Renaissance literature in 1956, both from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. In 1956, already in Taiwan, to prepare himself for missionary work, he went to the Chabanel Language Institute (華語學院), Hsinchu, Taiwan, and earned a Certificate in Chinese Language and Culture in 1958. Soon after, he went to Fordham University in New York, New York, where he specialized in 18th-century British literature and was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in English literature in 1961. From 1961 to 1965, he was in the Philippines 3 during which time he studied theology at the Faculty of Theology at St. Robert Bellarmine in Baguio. In 1963 in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Jack Deeney was formally ordained and took his final vows in 1966 in Taipei. After three decades of service as a member of the Jesuit order, he formally left the Jesuits and the priesthood in 1979 primarily because of his profound frustration with the outmoded practices of the Church Post Vatican II despite his long years of struggle trying to reform from within. But the essence of Jesuit education and its emphasis on learning continued to inform him for the rest of his life. He remained a deeply religious person, a devout Catholic throughout his entire life; he continued to pray and hope that the true spirit of Vatican II as initiated by Pope John XXIII to let the fresh air into the Church would one day become a true reality. In fact, in his post-Jesuit life, he continued to keep in close touch with and contribute essays and reflections to a highly respected cyber journal of religion and culture, Just Good Company. Early in life, Jack was preoccupied with two lifelong passions: love for God and love for China. Born into a deeply devout Catholic family, it was only natural that he acquired a profound spirituality, nourished since early childhood by religious belief, which sustained him throughout his entire life. Almost simultaneously, at the tender age of six, prompted by his innate sense of justice and compassion, his love for China began when he saw the brutal 4 Nanking Massacre (1937) perpetrated by the Japanese against the innocent Chinese depicted in the cartoons of bubblegum wrappers. These twin passions found their anchor and expression when he began missionary work in Taiwan in 1956. In his diary on September 28, 1956, when he entered the harbor of Keelung, Taiwan, after suffering from a long, seasick, overcrowded voyage from San Francisco, he piously and joyfully jotted down these words: “I thanked God for bringing me safely to the land where my heart has been for 13 years and begged the grace to be worthy of my missionary vocation.” This day, September 28, known as Teachers’ Day in Taiwan, is so designated to commemorate the birthdate of Confucius, China’s most revered teacher of all time. In retrospect, given Jack’s lifelong dedication to and impactful achievements in the teaching profession, it certainly seems providential that it was on Teachers’ Day he arrived in Taiwan, the only part of China then open to the rest of the world. In fact, by his own admission, he had never followed conventional missionary work to convert people, perhaps earning the quiet consternation of his Jesuit colleagues. For Jack, the way to effectively teach in China whether as a missionary or as a teacher was first to learn both the Chinese language and China’s rich culture so that he could then communicate intelligently the unique features of his own religion and culture. Jack Deeney, as teacher, as scholar 5 In fact, this core conviction that learning should precede teaching and the two should intertwine as an organic whole was held dear throughout his life. Learning, as he wrote in his own biodata, meant “re-tooling myself academically through reading extensively in British, American, and Chinese literatures, and to publish the results of my studies in order to stimulate critical responses and to improve my initial reflections and, ultimately, my teaching.” Indeed, students were his main business. We are certainly reminded of the triad in the imaginary epitaph mentioned earlier. Jack’s long teaching career, from which he retired in 2012, began in 1965 when he taught Anglo-American literature at National Taiwan Normal University from 1965 to 1972, and then at the Foreign Languages Department of National Taiwan University as a full professor from 1972 to 1977, including its doctoral program. Jack was next invited to be a faculty member at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), where he taught from 1977 to 1997. Finally, in 2002, back in Taiwan, he continued teaching at Soochow University from 2002 to 2012. What made Deeney’s teaching uniquely memorable was that teaching for him was never simply limited to classroom instruction. Emanating from his classroom teaching as its central core, he continuously and systematically devised ever widening and crucially inter-related concentric circles to enhance his students’ learning and their learning environment. These concentric circles 6 included locating effective teaching aids, inviting eminent scholars, publishing, compiling teaching materials specifically suited to the Chinese students, expanding the library collection as well as taking on administrative tasks to establish advanced research programs. Early in his teaching career, Jack saw the need for supplying audiovisual aids for his students. To enliven what he taught, he made every effort to acquire recordings of songs and poems by Anglo-American authors and professionals as well as BBC productions, mostly Shakespeare’s plays. These audiovisual aids were truly unprecedented and highly effective teaching tools for his students during the decade between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s when such aids were rarely available in Taiwan. In those days, taxis were also rare and expensive, Jack often biked to school, rain or shine, with bulky audiovisual equipment strapped on his back. For his memorable teaching approach, please refer to Chang Chun-ying’s (張純瑛) vivid and moving recollection, written almost four decades after being his student in an essay, titled “風流儒雅亦吾師—李達三教授” in her book《人情詩故—從經典看人生》and as well as to Early on, Jack also realized the benefit of reaching out to eminent scholars to enrich his student’s learning. In 1966, one year after teaching at the English Department of National Taiwan 7 Normal University, he became the Chairman of its Graduate Institute of English (1966–1967) to succeed the renowned scholar, Liang Shih-chiu (梁實秋) at the latter’s recommendation, stating that Deeney’s scholarship and dedication had won the hearts and minds of both faculty and students at the Institute. Worth mentioning were Jack’s efforts to invite the world-famous Yutang Lin (林語堂) to teach translation at the Institute, although he was well aware that he himself would soon be asked to step down as Chair of the Institute, due to the prevailing Taiwan government policy that no foreigner could assume any administrative position. Such undaunted efforts to seek prominent scholars continued when he was teaching comparative literature in Hong Kong. In 1982, he invited the world’s most distinguished scholar in comparative literature, Harry Levin, the Irving Babbitt Chair Professor at Harvard and a founding father of comparative literature as an academic discipline in the United States, to teach a seminar on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Later in 1985, he invited Earl Miner, another renowned scholar of East-West comparative literature from Princeton, to instruct students in the way to compare literatures of disparate traditions. Very few would ever know how much behind-the-scenes work he had done to make this extraordinary thing happen. Not only would he make sure that these scholars, fairly advanced in their age and not used to the humid weather of Hong Kong, would get comfortably settled on the CUHK campus with all the things they 8 needed, but he would also go out of his way to make their spouses feel at home in their new habitat. One student later recalled that listening to Harry Levin explicating the multilingual puzzles in Ulysses and teasing out all the subtle flavors hidden in the text was a most memorable intellectual feast of the highest order. There was another kind of feast, he said, equally unforgettable. He was referring to the exquisite and generous spread of cheeses and cookies and wines in Jack’s warm and cozy flat to spice up the seminar. Again, early in his teaching, he realized the need to publish study guides on difficult works by Anglo-American authors. From 1970 to 1972, he teamed up with the learned Father Pierre Demers, S.J. to publish a series of 17 booklet-length study guides on difficult works by Anglo-American authors with detailed introductory materials in English and annotations in Chinese. Even to this day, the study guides have received high acclaim because they genuinely respond to the real needs of both students and faculty to understand these challenging texts. Some were later revised and reprinted, and in 2009 they became available online. Even as late as 2010 during an interview by a young professor of the English Department from Fujen University in Taiwan, he was asked whether it was possible to publish something like these study guides to benefit today’s students of Anglo-American literature. It was obvious that the impact of these study guides is still profound even after so many years. 9 Around the same time in 1973, Jack Deeney compiled the Style Manual and Transliteration Tables for Mandarin. A second revised edition was published in 1978. (See the selected bibliography at the end of this text.) The style manual served as a textbook for graduate students to learn how to do serious research and write scholarly papers according to a format recognized by both Chinese and Western scholars to facilitate academic exchanges. In 1975, Jack became aware of the urgent need to supply a textbook for English literature specifically targeting Chinese students. The Norton Anthology of English Literature published in America was not only impossibly expensive but not at all suitable, given the students’ limited background knowledge of British literary tradition. This situation led him to collaborate with other colleagues in compiling a two-volume book, An English Literature Anthology for Chinese Students. Cassette tapes were provided in the subsequent 2nd and 3rd printings in 1976 and 1978 respectively. Aside from abridging the huge Norton textbook to a manageable size, he also added representative essays and excerpts from Shakespeare’s plays to give the students a more comprehensive knowledge of the scope of English literature. One of the concentric tasks that Jack took upon himself voluntarily and consistently at every single university where he had taught was to help expand the library collection on Anglo- 10 American literature and, later, on Chinese-Western comparative literature, including periodicals as well as copies of relevant theses and dissertations. His purpose was not simply to enhance the university as a research institute but also to foster his students to become serious scholars by making available to them pertinent materials in the field of their research. In fact, some of his classes were regularly held in a library to instruct students how to do library research in the most efficient way, a necessary skill that was seldom, if ever, honed by other instructors. For Jack, learning had always been an integral part of teaching. One shining example was that he taught himself about Comparative Literature. Again, from his biodata, we learn that he introduced himself to this new field in the early 1960s through extensive and in-depth reading and research. But it was not until 1973, on the occasion of National Taiwan University’s inauguration of a PhD program in Chinese-Western Comparative Literature, that most of his academic energy began focusing on this field. It would not be an overstatement to say that Chinese-Western comparative literature studies were his passion and his mission. As a man of large vision, he understood the potential in promoting the mutual understanding between China and the West, two of the world’s most important cultural traditions. He was also a man of extraordinary practical capabilities who knew how to bring his vision to fruition. As a teacher and scholar, he knew what he could and should do was to create and provide the most conducive academic environment for the field to grow in Taiwan and Hong 11 Kong and, finally, in mainland China. He had all along suggested that his role in this field was that of a bridge to facilitate the communication between China and the West with the goal to put Chinese literature on the world stage to contextualize it in relation to other literatures of the world. Realizing his intent and purpose as such, we will better understand why he had chosen what he set out to do in this field. First, in Taiwan, his self-imposed multitasking efforts included publications, assisting in setting up and teaching in National Taiwan University’s doctoral program, as well as founding and participating in Taiwan’s Comparative Literature Association in addition to organizing and actively participating in local and international conferences. Jack’s unprecedented effort to invite professors of Chinese literature to participate in the doctorate program of the University’s Foreign Languages Department established a truly meaningful model for inter-departmental dialogue between scholars of Chinese and Western literatures. During this early stage, Deeney’s three publications were particularly valuable. In 1970, in the first issue of Tamkang Review (the one and only journal in English dedicated to comparative studies between Chinese and foreign literatures in Taiwan), he published a truly visionary, and groundbreaking article, “Comparative Literature Studies in Taiwan,” to detail pertinent issues to be considered in this field, including its aim and definition, scope, method, bibliography, and terminology. 12 Judging by subsequent efforts he had made in the following 40 years, we notice that he had already mapped out in this article some of the major tasks he was to undertake. It is worth noting that Deeney played an important role in initiating the publication of Tamkang Review and shouldering the bulk of the editorial work involved. But, typically, he declined to be on the editorial board as he believed that the board should be an all-Chinese cast. Today, more than half a century later, Tamkang Review is still dedicated to publishing various papers in English on literature, including comparative literature. He firmly believed that for this new field to really develop, one must start with a comprehensive bibliography as a necessary and fundamental tool to facilitate serious research. In 1975, he compiled an extensive bibliography of 604 pages with his colleague, Chi Chiu-lang 紀秋郎, entitled, An Annotated Bibliography of English, American, and Comparative Literature for Chinese Scholars. Later, his publications and efforts raised important questions related to comparative literature from a Chinese perspective and suggested ways of resolving them. For example, in the 1977 issue of Chung Wai Literary Monthly 《中外文學》, he first raised the idea of a Chinese School of Comparative Literature to be added to the existing French and American schools of comparative literature. This bold and innovative idea was not only meant to counterbalance the Eurocentric comparative literature studies in the West, but to situate the rich treasure of Chinese literature in a 13 comparative context. The implications of this new school are huge and revolutionary. Most essentially, it was for the Western scholars to reconsider their notion of literature, including such important issues as the definition and classification of genres as well as critical terms as metaphor, plot, and so on, which had all along been taken as the norm of all literatures. For Jack, as expounded in his talks and interviews, the inclusion of Chinese literature and, for that matter, any non-Western literatures, was a wake-up call for Eurocentric comparative literature scholars to realize that there were other important literatures beyond the Western hemisphere and, as such, they should no longer assume their notion of literature was the only one to be reckoned with. This brand-new notion has generated heated discussions and has had quite a ripple effect among both Chinese and Western scholars even to this day. In fact, with respect to introducing Chinese literature to the Western readership, Jack made important contributions through translation. In 1975, Jack with his good friend Prof. Chi Pang-yuan 齊邦媛, shouldered a lion’s share of editing and translating the two-volume anthology, titled, An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature: Taiwan, 1949–1974 (Vol. 1. Poems and Essays; Vol. 2. Short Stories), distributed by the University of Washington Press in 1976. Due to a very successful distribution effort, this two-volume anthology became widely available as a textbook among American as well as European universities and libraries to fulfill the need for Chinese literature produced during the era of 1949-1974 14 when there was hardly any literature produced or known during this period in mainland China. Jack, being the only native speaker of English on the editorial board, naturally had a great deal to do with the high-quality English translation of this Anthology where practically every single word of the works anthologized was carefully considered. Prof. Qi later recalled that Jack even recruited people on his own including his Jesuit friends to help check the quality of the English rendition of the Anthology (see Dr. Shan Te-hsing’s interview with Professor Qi in Compilation and Translation Review編譯論叢,vol. 5,no. 1, March 2012, pp. 247-272) and its website address is ( At around the same time, Jack went to the Chinese University of Hong Kong during the summer months to work on the editing and compilation of an anthology of Chinese classical poems which was not completed due to the death of the translator, John A. Turner, S.J. A year later, in 1976, Jack completed the work, entitled A Golden Treasury of Chinese Poetry: 121 Classical Poems. It also had great success. It was first published as CUHK’s Renditions Books Series No. 1. Later, an authorized reprint was published in Taiwan (Linking), first in 1979 and reprinted again in 1983 under the title 《中詩英譯金庫》. In a recent essay in memory of Jack Deeney, Dr. Eva Hung who was later in charge of the publication of 《Renditions》at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, wrote that without Jack’s effort, A Golden Treasury of Chinese Poetry would never have been published (see her essay 15 “溫和儒雅李達三” in《城市文學 City Literature》,August Issue,2022 ). For Jack, Hong Kong was an ideal launch pad to promote Chinese-Western comparative studies in mainland China. Utilizing his experiences in Taiwan, he quickly moved into an even higher gear in Hong Kong. He soon began to introduce to the local academics and even the public this new field of Chinese-Western comparative literature studies and its importance in promoting understanding between China and the West. He did it through a radio interview (1977) and a forum held in Hong Kong’s Cultural Center (1978) as well as articles published in Chinese around the same time in local newspapers and magazines. In 1978, the Hong Kong Association of Comparative Literature (HKACL) was first established. He was the Association’s first Associate Director; he firmly believed that a native Chinese scholar should be the Association’s Director. Soon after, through HKACL and his affiliation with The Chinese University of Hong Kong as well as Hong Kong University, he helped organize local and international comparative literature conferences. The participants over the years included such luminaries in the field as Harry Levin, A. Owen Aldridge, Earl Miner, André Lefevre, Robert Clements, etc. Among all his efforts in promoting Chinese-Western comparative studies in Hong Kong and China, two are worthy of particular attention: publications and setting up a graduate program and research institute in comparative literature at CUHK. 16 In 1978, one year after his arrival in Hong Kong, he published a book, 《比較文學研究之新方向》New Orientations for Comparative Literature (Linking, 1978); and it was later in 1982 revised and enlarged to 471 pages (Linking, 1982). In 1990, Comparative Literature from Chinese Perspectives 《從中國角度看比較文學》was published in China. He also co-edited with Chinese scholars in Hong Kong and China influential works, producing a steady stream of publications in both Chinese and English, particularly in bibliographies and terminologies. (See a selected list of these publications in the bibliography at the end of this text.) Suffice it to mention here four items to indicate the general direction of his publication in this area. In 1982, for example, he published “Chinese-English Comparative Literature Bibliography: A Pedagogical Arrangement of Sources in English,” followed by Part II, published in 1987, where the sources were updated from 1982 to 1987. In 1991, he published “English-Chinese Glossary of Literary Terms (英中文學用語辭典).” And very significantly, in 1995, he published a well-researched and well-thought-out essay, tracing the historical background and principles regarding the compilation of Chinese literary terminology, “Foundations for Critical Understanding: The Compilation and Translation of Encyclopedic Dictionaries of Chinese Literary Terminology.” What is revealed in this essay is not simply his dedication but his highly critical mind. As an integral part of his interest in comparative studies, Deeney also published since the late 1970s essays and speeches on biculturalism and translation as well as on problems in Chinese-English translation. Most notably was a 381-page publication from 17 1980, in which he worked with Simon Chau 周兆祥, ECCE [English to Chinese, Chinese to English] Translator’s Manual: An Annotated Bibliographical Handbook. As a scholar of literature and an avid reader, Jack naturally had a wide variety of interests, including myth and mythology as well as films and drama, and he did publish on these subjects and often from a comparative perspective. Indeed, his own academic output includes more than one hundred publications. But it was the foundation-laying task of building the new field of comparative literature studies that occupied most of his time and energy. For this reason, the tedious and time-consuming work involved in the compilation and editing of bibliographical materials never bothered him, nor did he ever care whether such work would earn him any academic credit. This was because he appreciated the fundamental importance of such work for serious scholarship. Often on weekends and holidays, Jack worked on the compilation of these materials in his office for the entire day with just a few packs of instant noodles as his meals. In those days, a memorable scene from the “Pi Ch’iu Building 碧秋樓” where the English Department of CUHK was once situated, would be the one lone light shining from that otherwise pitch-black building. And you could be sure that lone light was from Jack’s office. Gladly would he work away at his paper-strewn desk in his office. His endeavors, indeed, were a moving testimony to his vision and his selfless dedication to the field. In addition to publications, Jack Deeney would again gladly take up time-consuming and often thankless tasks of administrative 18 work. His previous experience in helping to set up the first PhD program in Comparative Literature in Taiwan stood him in good stead when he came to Hong Kong. In 1978, he played a pivotal role in establishing the first MA program in Comparative Literature at the English Department of CUHK. It was soon developed into a highly reputable program with frequent academic exchanges not only with scholars from the local Hong Kong University but also with prominent scholars from abroad through conferences on Comparative Literature. In 1983, based on the solid success of this MA program, a PhD program in Comparative Literature was established at CUHK. In the early 1980s, students from China began to apply to the University’s MA program in Comparative Literature largely through Jack’s effort to provide them with financial aid. Simultaneously, worthy of particular note was Jack’s instrumental role in inviting mainland Chinese scholars to do research at the Comparative Literature Research Unit (CLRU) at CUHK, which he also headed. It was the first time that mainland scholars were able to experience free access to research materials without being dictated by ideological confinements since the upheaval of the 10-year Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). Through his tireless efforts to gather pertinent books, articles, and journals from Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and abroad in both English and Chinese including the extensive bibliographies he compiled, CLRU under Jack Deeney’s leadership had the world’s best library on Chinese-Western comparative literature. In addition, he also ensured steady support from outside funds in addition to internal 19 funding from CUHK, so that every scholar from China was provided free room and board plus a stipend. In fact, he would often drive miles on end to find reasonably priced and conveniently located living quarters for the Chinese scholars so that they could concentrate on their research. His work through the platform of CLRU in addition to his many talks in Chinese given in Beijing, Shanghai, and even as far as Liaoning, for more than a decade, was both catalytic and crucial to the spread of Chinese-Western Comparative Literature studies in China. By the early 1980s, this new discipline had already taken root and grown into a nationwide academic discipline with local Comparative Literature Associations throughout China. In China, practically all members of the first generation of Comparative Literature scholars — who later became the founding fathers and mothers of this new field — owed their initiation into this field to CLRU in Hong Kong. Jack Deeney’s role was vital, and his contribution was indelible in their collective memory. For his pivotal contribution to the development of Comparative Literature in China from 1979-2009, please refer to《見證中國比較文學30年(1979-2009): John J Deeney(李達三)、劉介民往來書札》. Fudan University in Shanghai, China, in recognition of Jack Deeney’s pioneering work in the field of Chinese-Western Comparative Literature, already has a place in its Main Library to display his many publications and related materials for future generations. 20 After retiring from CUHK in 1997, he returned to his beloved Taiwan where it all began to enter his final decade of teaching. Despite his age, he approached it with similar zest and professionalism and continued to give papers and keynote speeches at the local and regional conferences on Comparative Literature as well as those on religion and literature. He began to teach challenging courses like Bible in/as Literature with a new approach and even added a new course on Dante whose works had always fascinated him. He subscribed to Paul Henry Newman‘s (1801-1890) notion that to live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often. For him, to change means to renew himself constantly in order to improve himself. Although he had studied the Bible and Dante all his life, he felt he was now at an age that he could impart the wisdom of these texts more adequately to his young students who were now most thirsty for such wisdom as they were about to embark on life’s journey. For Jack, it was a perfect match between the old and the young. Here again, students reigned supreme in his mind. In 2006, as a 75-year-old man, after a whole lifetime of teaching a wide range of subjects in literature, including something as profound as Shakespeare’s King Lear and Dante’s Divine Comedy, he wrote an article on “Some Tips on Improving Your English Writing” for his graduate students. Typically, he started the article based on a factual quote from Taipei Times about how the Taipei mayor raised such a stink about a mistake-riddled accord in English to be signed with Palau (an island nation in Oceania) that the document was returned to be corrected. Again, typically, he thoughtfully and kindly quoted an American college composition 21 teacher that English composition was at an all-time low in the United States so that his Chinese students would not feel so bad. Again, typically, just before going into the content of his article, he humbly wrote that his students’ English was still by far superior to his Chinese which he had studied for more than half a century. A student later recalled that he was touched to tears when he read the article, not simply because this erudite and grandpa-like teacher would be so concerned about his students’ language ability that he took the time to teach them about the ABC’s of good writing, but the tone was so movingly gentle and so thoughtfully kind. In Chinese, a kind and learned person, especially a good teacher, is often described as one whose presence would people around him feel like being basked in the warmth of a spring breeze. Indeed, that was Deeney’s special charisma! Ultimately, such gentle warmth came from Jack’s genuine concern for his students’ well-being. On the first day of each class he taught, Jack Deeney passed out what he called a “student card” and asked his students to attach a recent photo and write down their major interests on the card before returning it to him in the next class. This enabled him not simply to match names with faces but, most crucially, to get to know who his students were. By the end of the term, these cards were filled with his copious notes written in tiny letters about how the individual student fared in the term and what his or her strengths and weaknesses were, and, most importantly, how he, as a teacher, could help in their weaknesses. Students were indeed his business. 22 Jack Deeney as a human being As a person with a large soul, Jack’s spring-breeze-like warmth was all-inclusive. His other routine habit was to use 3x5-inch cards to jot down small details about people, usually those who were less fortunate, regarding their needs based on his quiet observation. A tea girl (a term used in Hong Kong for a person, often a young girl, who serves tea and coffee in an office) in the English Department office at CUHK, was pleasantly surprised to have received a warm wool coat in winter as a Chinese New Year’s gift. In his study, for example, a drawer in his desk was set aside for international stamps for a kid who collected stamps but with limited resources to do so. Aside from donating money to worthy causes and trusted organizations, he often donated his most popular O-positive type blood to hospitals until, due to his age, hospitals declined to have his blood. Throughout his life, he held a special place in his heart for human suffering. We recall how at the tender age of six he was touched by the suffering Chinese people, which began his lifelong love affair with China. This compassion not only grew out of his innate goodness but also because he himself had suffered a great deal. Jack was born in the era of the Great Depression in America when few had work. His father lost his job and became an alcoholic. He grew up fast as he witnessed how his beloved mother was abused by his own father when she was the kindest and loving person and the only breadwinner in the family. But still, he loved his father dearly and never said a harsh word about him. And he 23 also managed to turn something negative into something positive. Unlike his father, he became a workaholic. He sublimated his personal suffering to a profound understanding of and compassion for the human condition. That was probably why he always responded most sensitively and tenderly to the needs of others. His unswerving efforts to fulfill the academic needs of his students in every way possible throughout his teaching career stemmed precisely from this most loving and tender spot in his heart. Very aptly now in retrospect, his last paper written around 2011 was about human suffering, entitled, “Personal Suffering Through the Ages and its Alleviation through Literary Art.” It was an ambitious topic because he traced and explored this common human condition from the Classical period before the Biblical age all the way to the post-modern period. And because of the diverse and unrelated literatures involved, he treated this universal phenomenon by one important approach in Comparative Literature, namely, thematology. He concluded the long paper with W.H. Auden’s poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts” because what struck him most about this poem was the casual and almost nonchalant tone in which human suffering was depicted. It seems what Auden tried to convey was the terrible anonymity of human suffering as it intermingled with all the other quotidian happenings and events of our lives. Jack’s compassion simply would not allow that terrible anonymity of suffering when it came to the suffering of others while he himself remained quiet about his own pain. What a pity that this wonderfully profound paper drawn from the very depths of his soul and mind, not to mention his extensive research, was 24 not finalized because of his many pressing duties while teaching at Soochow University. He put the needs of others first, as always. In 2012, on the homebound plane to Pittsburgh, he hand-carried this paper so that he could revise it during the flight despite the inconvenience of working on a narrow tray table and the discomfort of the unavoidable turbulence. Perhaps he knew he could not afford to waste any time as there was not much time left for him. In the meantime, he was hoping that he could finally begin to revise this paper to his satisfaction now that he was to retire for good. But, alas, he never really had a chance to do so because of his rapidly declining health. Near the end of his life when he was bedridden and nearly inaudible, he still inspired and touched the hearts and souls of the nurses and nurse’s aides who took care of him. They were amazed at how he managed to make it easier for them to lift or turn him despite his unbearable pain to do so, not to mention his declining mental state which would normally make a person oblivious to others’ care. They could feel his genuine gratitude even though he could hardly express it in words. One nurse’s aide in the last hours of his life begged to be allowed to make a sketch of Jack’s face. Why? “Because he is a saint, and I want to remember him,” she said, with uncontrollable tears welling up in her eyes. But she was not satisfied with her work. Why? Her answer was: “How can you capture his spirit of love on paper?” We remember and mourn Jack Deeney, a noble, gentle soul rarely found among us. We remember him as a man of large vision 25 and extraordinary selflessness in his dedication to his profession and to the countless students and scholars he taught and helped in their development. We also remember him as a man of two cultures where the West harmoniously integrated with the East. We most keenly remember him as a man with an incredibly kind and generous heart who knew no limits in the ways he could be of help. The sum total of Jack Deeney was much greater and deeper than we could ever fathom. Indeed, it is impossible to capture his spirit of love which ultimately defined who he was. A hauntingly beautiful refrain from a Scottish song about the beloved Bonnie Prince Charlie which Jack often played in class now sounds eerily fitting and sad: Will ye no come back again? Will ye no come back again? Better lo'ed ye canna be, Will ye no come back again? As we remember him and mourn his departure, and even when we entertain the impossible, longing for his return as expressed in the Scottish song, we are, in fact, celebrating the life he had lived. It was a life in which he gladly learned, gladly taught, and gladly helped those in need. In realizing this triad of his, we finally understand what his Chinese name 達三 really means.i 26 i In Chinese, the characters達三, in the sense of “三達德,” usually have a Confucian connotation meaning three constant virtues: wisdom, kindness, and bravery. Here, the character, “達,” an adjective, means “constant.” But this character could also be a verb meaning to “have arrived at” and thus “realized” as is used in the text. In the Gongsun Chou (公孫丑) chapter of Mencius, a conversation between Confucius and his disciple Zi Gong (子貢) was quoted. In response to Zi Gong’s question of whether Confucius has reached the status of a sage, Confucius says that he is not there yet, but only that he is not tired of learning nor of teaching and that is all. Upon hearing this humble reply from the Master, Zi Gong says, “not to be tired of learning” means “wisdom” and “not to be tired of teaching” means “kindness.” Jack Deeney was perfectly correct to equate Confucius’s notion of 不厭 “literally, not to be tired of” in ”學不厭, 教不厭“ with Chaucer’s notion of ”gladly” because “not to be tired of” means to “enjoy” as clearly indicated in the Chinese phrase ”樂此不疲, literally, to be happy about something will not make one feel tired.” In the Doctrine of the Mean Zhongyong《中庸》, one of the Four Books in the Confucian canon, it is stated that the three constant virtues are actually inseparable. Hence, by possessing the virtues of wisdom and kindness, one would also possess the virtue of bravery. Jack Deeney who was never tired of learning or teaching would be a person of both wisdom and kindness according to Zi Gong, and as such, he would also be a person of bravery according to Zhongyong. 27 A Selected Bibliography (Chronologically Arranged) 1. 〈評介詹姆斯· 喬哀思 “逝者” 〉[James Joyce’s “The Dead”: A Critical Interpretation].《現代文學》[Modern Literature]. Translated by 天青(孫筑瑾). Taipei, no. 31, April 1967, pp. 30-44. 28 2. “Comparative Literature Studies in Taiwan.” Tamkang Review, Taipei, vol. 1, no. 1, April 1970, pp. 105-139. 3. 〈《簡愛》電影與小説的比較分析:一種新的批評方式〉 [Jane Eyre: Film and Novel]. 《幼獅文藝》[Youth Literary], Taipei, vol. 35, no. 4, April 1972, pp. 191-217. 4. 〈比較的思維習慣〉[Comparativization].《中外文學》[Chung Wai Literary Monthly], Taipei, vol 1, no. 1, 1972, pp. 86-103. 5. Review of The Poetry of Li Shang-yin:Ninth-century Baroque Chinese Poet by James J.Y. Liu. Chicago and London: Chicago UP,1969. Chinese Culture, vol. 14, no. 2, October 1973, pp. 50-58. 6. Style Manual and Transliteration Tables for Mandarin. Compiled by John Deeney. 1st ed. Taipei: Tamkang College of Arts and Sciences, Tamkang Review Monograph No. 1, 1973. 2nd revised edition. Taipei: Tamkang College of Arts and Sciences, Tamkang Review Monograph No.1, 1978. 7. 〈神話文學的研究〉[Mythology and Literature]. Translated by Tsai Yuan-huang 蔡源煌. 《中外文學》[Chung Wai Literary Monthly], Taipei, vol 4, no. 1, 1975, pp. 168-203. 8. An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature 《中國現代文學選集》. Vol. 1, Poems and Essays. Co-edited and translated with Chi Pang-yuan 齊邦媛 et al. Taipei: National Institute of Compilation and Translation, 1975. 9. An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Literature 《中國現代文學選集》. Vol. 2, Short Stories. Co-edited and translated with Chi Pang-yuan 齊邦媛 et al. Taipei: National Institute of Compilation and Translation, 1976. 10. English Literature Anthology for Chinese Students. Vol.1 and Vol.2. Edited by John J. Deeney, et al. Taipei: Hongdao, 1975. Rpt. Vol. 1A and Vol. 1B. 2nd printing, 1976. Rpt. Vol. 2A and Vol.2B, 2nd printing, 1976. 11. A Golden Treasury of Chinese Poetry: 121 Classical Poems, translated by John. A Turner with notes and Chinese text. Compiled and edited by 29 John Deeney. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, Rendition Books Series No. 1, 1976. An authorized reprint (with introductory materials translated into Chinese) was published under the title 《中詩英譯金庫》. Taipei: Linking, 1979 and reprinted in 1983. 12. 〈比較文學的中國派〉[Chinese School of Comparative Literature]. 《中外文學》[Chung Wai Literary Monthly], Taipei, vol 6, no. 5, 1977, pp. 73-77. 13. English Literature Anthology for Chinese Students.3rd Rev. 2nd printing, with cassette tapes (50). Vol. 1A/2A and Vol. 2/B/2B. 2nd printing with cassette tapes (50). Ed. John J. Deeney, et al. Taipei: Hongdao, 1978. 14. Cold Night: A Novel. Ba Jin. Trans. Nathan Mao and Liu Ts’un-yan (extensively revised, edited, and re-translated by John J. Deeney). Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press; Seattle: The University of Washington Press, 1978. 15. Chinese-Western Comparative Literature: Theory and Strategy. Ed. with an Afterword with Preface by Horst Frenz and Foreword by A. Owen Aldridge. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong press, 1980. 16. 《比較文學研究之新方向》(New Orientations for Comparative Literature). Taipei: Linking, 1st ed., 1978. 2nd edition revised and enlarged, 1982. 17. “Comparative Literature and China: A Bibliographical Review of Materials in English.” First published in New Asia Academic Bulletin: Special Issue on East-West Comparative Literature. Vol. 1. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1978. pp. 267-301. Reprinted in 1980 hardback edition. 18. ECCE [English-Chinese, Chinese-English] Translator’s Mannual : An Annotated Bibliographical Handbook. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, Extramural Department, 1980,A Chinese edition was published in the same year in Taipei:《譯事參考手冊》(ECCE Translator’s Mannual : An Annotated Bibliographical Handbook). Editors and compilers, 李達三(Chinese name of John Deeney) and Chau S.C. (Simon)周兆祥. 30 19. Chinese-Western Comparative Literature: Theory and Strategy. Editor, with an Afterword. Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1980 20. “Chinese-English Comparative Literature Bibliography: A Pedagogical Arrangement of Sources in English.” Tamkang Review, Taipei, vol. 12, no. 4, Summer 1982, pp. 333-404. See below for its sequel, Part II 21. “Chinese-English Comparative Literature Bibliography: Part II of a Pedagogical Arrangement of Sources in English (1982-1987).” Tamkang Review,Taipei, vol. 17, no. 4, Summer 1987, pp. 325-381. 22. “The Pedagogical Role of Literary Translation in Chinese-English Comparative Literature Studies,” given at “Conference on Translation Today: Culture and Information Interflow.” Comparative Literature Research Unit, Department of English, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 1987, pp. 1-49. 23. “Historical Sketch of Chinese-Western Comparative Literature Studies in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Mainland China [臺,港,大陸比較文學發展史].” Translated by Hsieh Hui-ying 謝惠英. 《中外文學》[Chung Wai Literary Monthly], Taipei, vol. 17, no. 11, April 1989, pp. 38-60. 24. Comparative Literature from Chinese Perspective 《從中國角度看比較文學》. Shenyang: Liaoning UP, 1990. 25. “Poetics, Chinse Style.” Comparative Literature Theory: New Perspectives. Ed. Anne Paolucci. New York: Griffon House Pub., 1989, pp. 78-109. 26. “English-Chinese Glossary of Literary Terms [英中文學用語辭典].” Occasional Paper No. 4., Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1991. 27. “Prolegomenon to an Encyclopedic Dictionary of Classical Chinese Literary Terms.” John Deeney edited and compiled with the Preface and the Bibliography. Tamkang Review, Taipei, vol. 24, nos. 3-4, Spring-Summer 1994, pp. 1-147. 28. Twentieth Century Comparative Literature Bibliography from Chinese Perspective: English Sources 《二十世紀中外比較文學研究索引:英 31 文資料》. Co-editor Liu Jiemin 劉介民. Vol. 1. Hong Kong: Comparative Literature Research Unit (CLRU) and The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1991. Revised and enlarged edition, CLRU/The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1994. 29. 《二十世紀中外比較文學研究索引:中文資料》Twentieth Century Comparative Literature Bibliography from Chinese Perspective: Chinese Sources. Co-editor Liu Jiemin 劉介民. Vol. 2. Hong Kong: CLRU/ The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1991. Revised and enlarged edition, CLRU/The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 1994. 30. “Foundations for Critical Understanding: The Compilation and Translation of Encyclopedic Dictionaries of Chinese Literary Terminology,” Translating Chinese Literature, ed. Eugene Eoyang. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, pp. 315-341. 31. 《中外比較文學的里程碑》[Landmarks in Chinese-Western Comparative Literature Studies: English Sources]. Co-editor with a Preface. Editor, Lo Gang 羅剛主編. Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing House, 1997. 32. “The Bible and/in/as Literature.” (A keynote lecture given at the Fourth National Literature Conference, March 14-15, 2003 at Chung Hsing University. Proceedings of Chung Hsing University’s Fourth National Literature Conference. Taipei: Xinwenfeng Pub. Co., 2003, pp. 1-27. 33. “The Religious Myth of Perfect Metaphor,” Symbolism: An International Annual of Critical Aesthetics. New York: AMS Press, 2011, pp. 91-111. 34. “Comparative Literature Studies: Vision and Revision,” and with a Foreword. Reflections: Essay on Chinese Literature, Comparative Literature, and Culture. Taipei: Bookman Co., 2019, pp. iii-viii, 109-134. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 悼念 先夫 John J. Deeney(李達三) 孫筑瑾哀述 先夫 John (Jack) Joseph Deeney (1931-2022)於 2022 年五月 24 日晨,在美國賓州匹茲堡寓所,蒙主寵召。 享年 91。 他一生在臺灣,香港,以及大陸,致力英美文學教學 及中西比較文學推廣不遺餘力,長達近半世紀, 直至八十 高齡方退休,一如春蠶吐絲,絲盡而止矣。 吾人常云蓋棺而後定論; 而在西方,則以墓誌銘的刻 文,言簡意賅,最能概括亡者一生之為人處世。 私度 Jack 的墓誌銘,應以中英雙語刻制,並以其平生奉為圭臬而能 貫徹始終的教學宗旨 ”學不厭 gladly would he learn,“ ”教不 倦 and gladly teach“ 為上下聯; 其上之橫批則為其經常喜用 中文說的“做人”二字。 “Gladly would he learn and gladly teach“ 出自英國現代文學之父喬叟 ( Geoffrey Chaucer c. 1340s – 25 October 1400)用以形容一位學者風範的名句。 順 便一提的是 Jack 很可能是第一位無縫接軌我們中國孔老夫 子自況的兩句名言和英國喬叟的兩則名句而使其相互輝映 成為中英之最佳互文翻譯。 1 而他生前最喜歡用中文說的 “做人”兩個字,對他而言,就是如何做一個以關愛幫助他人 1 不厭不倦即是“樂此不疲,樂在其中,” 故與喬叟之”gladly 快樂” 完全吻合。