In honor of Burton Watson’s passing, I am collecting statements and memories from friends and fans, to be posted as they come in. The following remembrance is from Victor Mair, professor of Chinese at University of Pennsylvania:
Sometime around the mid-70s, I had the great, good fortune to be invited to a dinner at the home of my mentor, Patrick Hanan. Also in attendance that evening were James Hightower and Burton Watson. I distinctly recall, already at that time, my impression of Watson being a venerable scholar of enormous accomplishments. Yet think of all that he has accomplished since that time four decades ago!
Despite his stature as a preeminent translator, Burton displayed no pretensions whatsoever. He put me completely at my ease. We had a pleasant, relaxed conversation about how we both had gotten into the study of Chinese literature and our mutual joy in translating it well.
Contact me if you would like to add your own remembrance.