Modern literature pioneer Pai Hsien-yung conferred honorary doctorate by UM

Prof Hong Gang Jin delivers an address

Prof Pai Hsien-yung, one of the foremost figures of Chinese literature, today (24 February) was conferred the Doctor of Letters honoris causa degree by the University of Macau (UM), in recognition of his significant contributions to world literature and the art of Kun opera. The degree conferment ceremony, held in the University Hall, was attended by a full-house audience consisting of literature lovers from around the world, prominent members from different fields, and UM faculty and students. Dr Lam Kam Seng, chair of the UM University Council, officiated at the ceremony. Prof Hong Gang Jin, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, delivered the citation for Prof Pai Hsien-yung. She noted in the citation that Prof Pai is ‘indisputably a Chinese literature magnate’. ‘Bearing the childhood painful memories of his war-ravaged country, Pai portrays powerfully in his novels the Guilin landscapes that witnessed the vicissitudes of human lots; the war-time Chongqing around which battles were fiercely fought; the Shanghai vibes which were still veiling thinly the sorrows of a wounded nation, and the Taipei in the 50s when the new Chinese diaspora expressed a profound sense of nostalgia. In an age when appreciation of great arts has given way to commercialisation of art, he with unwavering dedication and against all odds, took upon himself the task of resuscitating the Kun opera and, in particular, admirably re-rendered one of its titles into a “youth” version for youngsters,’ read the citation. Renowned literary researchers and scholars from mainland China, Taiwan, Macao, the United States, Australia, and Southeast Asia attended the degree conferment ceremony and Prof Pai Hsien-yung’s lecture. These scholars will also participate in an international academic conference on the universal influence of Pai Hsien-yung and Chinese literature, co-organised by UM’s Department of Chinese, Research Centre for Humanities in South China, and Chao Kuang Piu College, where they will have an in-depth discussion on Pai’s contributions to literature and art.

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