He Lingxiu, male, Han nationality, born in November, 1933, is a native of
Do Excellent Work through Fine Thinking
Yang Haiying (hereinafter referred to as Yang): Mr. He, I am glad that I have this chance to talk with you. Can you talk about your familybackground and living environment first? I think that these factors have directly influenced your personality and knowledge.
He Lingxiu (hereinafter referred to as He): I was born in
After he arrived in Xiangxiang, my great great-grandfather was very poor and had nothing to live on. Later, Tso Tsungtang recruited soldiers in the City God Temple of Xiangxiang, my great great-grandfather joined the army. He was probably a low-ranking officer under Tso Tsungtang’s command, but he was a little famous at that time. After returning home, he married and set up a shop (Tonglin Catering Hall), and his business developed gradually. And later, he bought some land. After liberation, he became a businessman and landlord.
My grandfather had two sons, and I was adopted by my uncle when I was born, and I called him “father”. My grandfather had few scholarly habits, but he was able to recognize characters and write characters and had some scholarly friends. Therefore, my family is a worldly business family, but with little culturalal atmosphere, and this was my childhood environment. My family is an old-fashioned and big family, with many rules and big contradictions. When we were eating, if they had bad words with others, they would throw bowls. In addition, my adoptive father was very irritable, while my natural father was very cowardly. The brothers quarreled with each other, but it was lucky that they didn’t get into physical fights. When I saw these kinds of things in my childhood, I was always filled with apprehension. This kind of environment gave me a little cultural influence and the chance to know about society.
Zhang: how old were you when you went to school? What about your studies? How was you admitted to
He: I went to school in the last six months of 1939, at that time I was nearly six years old. In 1940, I was ill, and I stayed at home for the whole of 1941,because I was seriously ill. After the illness, I returned to school, till the summer of 1944. That year, the Japanese aggressor troops invaded. Xiangxiang and was occupied by the enemy, and we fled from the calamity and stopped going to school for more than one year. In autumn, 1947, I was admitted to the junior part of
We were born in the right time, and it was an era that needed intellectuals urgently, so it was easy to be admitted by universities. We took the examination in the daytime, and many students went to the theater at night. During the examination, I finished the questions that I knew, and I didn’t consider questions that I didn’t know, so I was almost the first to hand in the examination paper. The People’s Republic of
Our middle school teachers were qualified. It seems that the educational level at that time was higher than that at present. Some of our teachers were transferred to universities after the new
Yang: what aspects of
He: in October, 1953, I was admitted by the Department of History of
Secondly, there are many courses, including basic courses, issue courses, required courses, and minor courses and so on. And there were many famous persons who taught the basic courses for us, such as Zhang Zhengliang, Wang Qian, Deng Guangming, Xu Daling, Hu Zhongda, Qi Sihe, Yang Rengeng, and Zhang Zhilian. As for other courses, Chinese Archaeology was taught by Xia Ding and Su Bingqi and others. Primitive Sociology and Anthropology were taught by Mr. Lin Yaohua; Chinese Legal History was taught by Mr. Li Zuyin who was an external teacher; General History of Chinese Political System was taught by Mr. Nie Zongqi. As for History of Ming and Qing Dynasties, Mr. Wu Han was invited to teach research on the History of Ming and Qing Dynasties. Lecture one: bureaucratic system of Ming and Qing Dynasties; lecture two: research on the history of Jianzhou; lecture three: the starting of capitalisim and so on. And he didn’t hand out teaching materials. As for Sui Tang Dynasty, Mr. Wang Qian taught us history of political struggle in the Tang Dynasty; as for the Qin and Han Dynasties, Mr. Jian Bozan taught us research on the history of the Qin and Han Dynasties. We also studied other courses, such as the History of Chinese Literature and Pedagogy, and we could also choose courses from other departments.
Besides courses were set out in detail, it gave students a free hand to read books and encouraged students to go to the library. During my studies in
What was not good was that there were so many activities and manual labor, especially after 1955. The campaign against counterrevolutionaries happened in 1955, anti-rights campaign in 1957, and the “Great Leap Forward” in 1958.
And there were a lot of manual labor, such as supporting agriculture and going to the near villages to do manual work; mending pools at the
There were too many activities and too much manual work in the university, so we were solid in mind, which influenced us greatly. Students after liberation were not stupid, and people became smarter, but why there were no outstanding scientific technology talents? In addition, we made plans, arranging things that would be finished the next week, writing and putting it down in black and white. Some students wrote down many little nothings of life. This habit goes extremely against people’s growth.
Yang: please talk about the working conditions in the History Institute after graduation.
He: I went to the History Institute in 1958, and I worked in the History Institute for thirty-six years. In addition, I have been retired for fourteen years. My near fifty-years of work and study can be divided into two stages, whose dividing line was overthrowing the “Gang of Four” and reform and opening-up. In the beginning, I didn’t have any plans, and I modified my dissertation under the opinion of Mr. Wang Yuquan. However, I was transferred to the
After the research of the
Book 7 of Chinese History Manuscript was my third writing task, which is an important national task, so I was transferred from the Minggang study class in
The second stage was after reform and opening-up, and the state implemented the sixth five-year construction plan. The writing of Whole History of Qing Dynasty and Biography of Qing Dynasty was listed in the “sixth five-year plan”, and I participated in these two writing tasks. I only wrote The Re-unification of Taiwan and the Mainland in Whole History of Qing Dynasty, and my main energy was put in to the edition work of Biography of Qing Dynasty. I only wrote nineteen articles. The biography of Wang Jia, Zhu Renhuo, Su Kunsheng, Huang Tong, Gu Liu, and Song Qi written by me maybe the first biography about them. As for other biographies, I was greatly influenced by movements, and I never struggled with others in connection with money and fame.
Yang: I think that your working achievements in the second stage were greater, am I right? This is mainly reflected in Collection of History of Qing Dynasty in Wukuzhai. And some appraisals have proved my opinion, such as “I love it too much to put it down”, “make very good descriptions and summaries for the development of the history of the Qing dynasty”, and “make deaceased people come alive”, and “combine historical materials and theories well”. What do you read in your spare time?
He: I mainly read three kinds of books: the first kind are classic Marist books, besides appreciating their basic viewpoints, I especially regard them as the way to transform, clear up, and revise my thinking ability; the second kind is ancient books, to accumulate knowledge, historical materials, and issues, and to make preparations for research; the third kind is historical books of modern people, to learn their achievements, and to check for mistakes. As for these kinds of books, I must be respectful and objective. In addition, I also appropriately read some art works and other interesting books, through which, I can increase my knowledge, learn expressions, and adjust my life. At the time of working and reading, I pay much attention to thinking, asking why, and checking contacted issues with my existing knowledge.
Yang: your experiences of researching the history of the Qing dynasty are very precious, what aspects can not be neglected?
He: as for my own major, I think that there are two points which can not be neglected: one is mastering its features, and the other is to understand its history.
I still remember when I studied the foundation of Marxism-Leninism, Stalin said: If you use philosophy materialism to research history, the history will “become a kind of accurate discipline like biology”, I have always had my doubts about that. And later, I knew that Mr. Chen Yange and Fu Sinian, famous historians, had always used these kinds of phrases. It is obvious that research objects, research methods, and the basic materials of history and biology are totally different. History research and books have a strong class nature, so position, viewpoint, quality, and ability of the researcher and author influence greatly its scientificity, which isn’t so with biology scholars. Whether history research can become science or not? In my opinion, the development of history is regular, but its development on the scientific road is very slow. Only complying with the features of history, it will be easier to undertake research.
As for me, knowing about professional history is about the development of the history of the Qing dynasty, like this, I can avoid repetitive research, master the direction of forward motion, and review some relevant results accurately, but this needs long-term accumulation, which is not extremely easy to obtain. I would like to research the history of the Qing dynasty and read research books of the Qing dynasty comparatively. Read more books of your profession, supplement your weak aspects, accumulate knowledge gradually, form overall cognition towards the whole dynastic history, and know about things before and after this dynastic history, which is very important in research. History is an endless process with connection and development. Any single historical event, partial history issue, and specific history stage shall not cut off its historical connection and be treated in isolation. In addition, it should be put in its historical environment, to find its cause and effect, nature, and law from the overall situation and development process. For example, put Chinese society in the period of Kangxi and Qianlong: feudal society was decaying, and the world was entering the bourgeois revolution (political revolution and industrial revolution), and capitalism expands externally, to investigate, you should know that as for “Kang and Qian Flourishing Age”, we should adopt a more cautious attitude. Even so, dominance at the early stage of the Qing dynasty was also very bright. It had great achievements in some aspects, such as the establishment of the territory, the communication of nations, and the development of economy, which were extremely obvious when compared with the Ming dynasty. As for the historical position of the Qing dynasty, staging of the history of the Qing dynasty, and great events in the history of the Qing dynasty, I have not written articles, but I have considered them. In addition, my views towards the whole situation of the history of the Qing dynasty are very superficial, but I also feel very dependable during research.
Yang: I remember a comment by: Duan Yucai and Wang Niansun, scholars of the Qing dynasty. It goes like this: “I think that as for scholars with high gifts, abundant knowledge, and stable deterministic force since the 1980s, I only admire Mr. Tian Yuqing and Mr. He. Both of them write articles prudently. They don’t have many articles, but each article is excellent.”
He: Mr. Tian Yuqing was my teacher, and I can not be mentioned in the same breath as my teacher. I only do things in accordance with my teachers’ instructions, and I am still trying hard to this day. Some things asked of me by my teacher have not been finished. For example, Yu Yingshi wrote an article to say that the article Individual Bolograph of Liurushi by Chen Yanke was a kind of bailout, while Mr. Deng Guangming didn’t think so. In the 1990s, he often said: “even he regretted, is it necessary to write a book of 800 thousand words? And it is ok to write a poem. To write so thick a book, was he stupid?” I agree with his viewpoint. He thought that I should write an article to discuss this. But I didn’t write it.
Yang: Chen Jiru of the Ming dynasty often said: “there are no standards for articles”. In your opinion, what articles can be regarded as good articles? Do you have specific evaluation criterions?
He: as for learning history, a viewpoint is the most important. Chen Yanke advocated “independent spirit” and “free thought”, which are very important.
For example, 2008 was Mr. Meng Sen’s 140th anniversary, and I wanted to write an article to talk about Postscript of the Death of Emperor Lie of Ming Dynasty for His Country. Why do I want to talk about his article? I think that people don’t pay much attention to this article. As for an article, you shall see the author’s efforts from two aspects: one aspect is to see what he has stated or whether he has stated or not from the aspect of overall situation; the other aspect is to see whether the base is solid or not from from the details. This is the combination of the overall situation and detail, macro and micro, from these two aspects, you can see whether this article is good or not. Seen from the aspect of the overall situation, in the Postscript of the Death of Emperor Lie of Ming Dynasty for His Country, I think that Meng Xinshi wants to state that the Qing dynasty treated people of the Ming dynasty cruely and wanted to get rid of them, which forms a bright comparison with the preferential treatment of the Ming dynasty towards ancestors of the Qing dynasty, and this article achieves its goal. In the period of Shunzhi, why did the Qing imperial court kill prince Chongzhen? How Emperor Kangxi treated prince Zhusan? These events are typical. It is true that the Ming imperial court killed Nurhaci’s father and grandfather, but it seems that it was indeed manslaughter, and the Ming dynasty made it up to them, although this can not compare with manslaughter. However, manslaughter has happened, and they didn’t have any other methods. The Ming dynasty granted a great reward to his ancestors, letting them manage frontier issues, and not instigating struggles between them. Is history like this? Am I right? You can check it in books. This is said from the overall situation. Seen from the details, I think that the most outstanding point is that he reveals: the Qing imperial court used Ren the imperial concubine of Tianqi to pretend to be Yuan imperial concubine of Congzhen, to prove that the prince was fake. The significant academic meaning of this article by Meng Xinshi is that he makes a decision on the case of the southern and northern prince. From this article, we can see that the northern prince is real, and the southern prince is not real. And the case of the northern prince was created by the Qing imperial court. If not, why they did they did it like this? Is it necessary for them to rack their brains to create a falsifier like this? And my query is indirect. He is smarter than me. If they control the imperial clan of the Ming dynasty collectively, something would not be wrong. Could Luwang and Hongguang rise up in rebellion again? The real danger is their blood relationship. After I read Postscript of the Death of Emperor Lie of Ming Dynasty for His Country, I admired him greatly, and I think that this is one of Meng Xinshi’s excellent books.
Yang: is it a convention in history?
He: no. the Ming dynasty only drove the Yuan dynasty out, and the Jin dynasty didn’t do this to Nan Song. The Republic of China treated the imperial household of the Qing dynasty very well, and Puyi lived in the palace, but later Feng Yuehsiang drove him out. To tell the truth, why drive Lu Wang out? At present, some articles are very plain. They may gather a lot of materials, and then make conclusions in accordance with the materials; of course, this is the regular academic way. However, there must be some innovation, so that it can reveal features of your article. Therefore, you have unique insights when you read books. With your own discoveries and unique insights, this is a kind of literary talent.
Yang: is it a knack for writing articles?
He: it may be said so. When you write articles, there must be some things to reveal your literary talent in these articles. Of course, we learn from our predecessors, so I emphasize that you should read books on the same subject and some theories, because theories were summarized by predecessors through investigation and practice. Some titles by Meng Xinshi were gained from predecessors. People make progress on the basis of existed performances, and this is when conditions are ripe, success will come. For example, as a master, Chen Yanke sometimes bangs his head into a wall. It is necessary to be cautious, but if you are too cautious, you will get just the opposite. It is very difficult to master. Take Li Yan as an example, it is hard to say at present, and we need more materials. Materials of Wang Xingya are useful, and you can read them carefully to inspire your wisdom. However, you can not knock down Li Yan, and he had Letter of Shikefa’s Answer towards Dorgon. The viewpoints of Gu Cheng are too cautious. I think that your research of Mrs. Liu is very good, and you have stated some large issues starting from some relevant problems of Mrs. Liu, and this method is right. In addition, your research is more deep and cautious than your predecessors.
Yang: Mr. He, thank you for your kind words. I think that we can all benefit from your experience.
Yang Haiying, female, was born in Jinyun,
Translated by Feng Weijiang.
Editor: Wang Daohang