...that's what I think I will have to do, after reading this piece in today's NYT:
Born in China at the end of the Qing dynasty, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Mr. Lin had a Western education in Shanghai and earned graduate degrees at Harvard and the University of Leipzig. He settled in Beijing, where he taught English at the National University and wrote urbane, bantering newspaper essays on contemporary Chinese culture.
The 1920s were a time of political agitation and forced side-taking. Mr. Lin initially aligned himself with the revolutionary impulses of the day, but simultaneously probed China’s deep past. After experiencing Communist political harassment in Beijing, he increasingly took the ideologically disinterested middle way of the Taoist scholar as his model. He became both a critical traditionalist and a skeptical modernist, a description that can be applied to many Chinese contemporary artists today.
I have his translation of Chuang Tzu, which I have consulted over the years, and a copy of one his US best sellers, My Country, My People, which I haven't read. A vague awareness of his political presence in the 1930s flits across my mind, absorbed perhaps from some left-wing criticism of him. In any event, I have not encountered this other book:
“The Importance of Living” appeared, and its antimaterialist, pro-leisure message was an instant hit with anxious, overachieving America. The book was on the New York Times best-seller list for a year; it still has fans.
Anti-materialist and pro-leisure: sounds promising...
Here are a couple of links on him: 1) from the UMASS Warring States Project, which is quite sympathetic; and 2) a piece from Hong Kong, which views him as an early globalization cosmopolitan; and 3) a couple of PDF files of his daughter's biography of him, part 1 and part 2.
That should get us started. One question might be: was he the Yu Dan of the early twentieth century?