Patrick Hanan Obituary
 
In Memory of

Patrick Dewes Hanan

January 4, 1927 - April 26, 2014
Obituary

Patrick Hanan of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Chinese Literature, Emeritus, at Harvard University, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2014. He is the author of The Chinese Short Story, The Chinese Vernacular Story (a history of the genre), Essays on Chinese fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, and The Invention of Li Yu, and the translator of many works of Chinese traditional fiction including The Carnal Prayer Mat and The Sea of Regret. Mirage, his latest translation of Chinese fiction, was published earlier this year by the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. As his colleagues...
Patrick Hanan of Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Chinese Literature, Emeritus, at Harvard University, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2014. He is the author of The Chinese Short Story, The Chinese Vernacular Story (a history of the genre), Essays on Chinese fiction of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, and The Invention of Li Yu, and the translator of many works of Chinese traditional fiction including The Carnal Prayer Mat and The Sea of Regret. Mirage, his latest translation of Chinese fiction, was published earlier this year by the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.



As his colleagues and ex-graduate students will attest, his scholarship was extraordinary in its breadth, its focus, and its attention to the details of a culture very different from his own. Equally extraordinary, as many of his students have expressed, was his unique ability to nurture and encourage would-be successors to grow and learn with him. Clearly all who worked alongside him and under his tutelage had great respect for his vast knowledge of, and enthusiasm for his chosen field. These same people expressed great sadness at the loss of a fine gentleman and a kind and gentle mentor.



Professor Hanan was born on January 4th, 1927 in Morrinsville, New Zealand. At the age of five his father retired from dentistry and moved the family to a farm near Omahu in the Waikato. His first education came in a nearby one-room school house that he reached by horseback. The family soon learned their young son needed a broader education than local schools could provide and sent him as a boarder to the Dilworth School in Auckland. Apart from the routine scrapes young boys often find themselves involved in, young Hanan thrived in this environment and went on to study English at Auckland University.



Leaving New Zealand for ever broader challenges, Professor Hanan travelled to England and worked a series of short-term jobs such as teaching illiterate prisoners and making ice cream before returning to school to learn Chinese at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Languages (SOAS). While a struggling student, he met and married Anneliese Drube in 1951 and one year later they celebrated the birth of their son, Guy. After completing his degree in 1953, he began teaching at SOAS and simultaneously beginning his doctoral program there. While on sabbatical during the 1957-58 school years, he was fortunate enough to spend more than six months in Beijing at a time when China was closed to all but a few Western scholars.



He received his doctorate from SOAS in 1961 and a few months later he was contacted by Donald Shively for a six-month visiting appointment at Stanford University in California. After vigorously touring the state thinking the family would return to England after six months, he was pleased to be offered a full-time position as a member of the Stanford faculty in 1963. By 1968 Donald Shively had relocated to Harvard and once again recruited Professor Hanan for Harvard where he worked until his retirement at age 70 in 1997. During that period he held a number of positions including department chair and Director of the YenChing Library.



With retirement came time and freedom. Professor Hanan immediately returned to research and translation. He was exceptionally good at identifying century old and more modern Chinese novels deserving translation into English, ones that would make valuable contributions towards the understanding of Chinese society. In his later years he was able to complete and publish numerous works before ill health began to slow him down in 2013. In 2005 he travelled to New Zealand to accept an OBE for his services to higher education. In 2011 he celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary with Anneliese and several family members and friends. Toward the end he would talk warmly about his early years on a farm in New Zealand and as a student, almost without regard to how far away he had travelled.



Professor Hanan is survived by his wife and son and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

Share your memories or express your condolences by signing the Guest Book below or click here for entry suggestions.

"I did not have many opportunities to speak with Professor Hanan, but had a pleasant conversation with him during a tour of the new library at the University..." Catherine Swatek (Vancouver, BC)

Submit Guest Book Entry
This Guest Book has 9 entries. View Complete Guest Book

Personalize Your Tribute

Share photos, videos and more with Legacy Memorial Websites. Find out more.

 
Start Planning Today

Make Your Plan Today

Preplanning your funeral or cemetery arrangements gives you and your loved ones peace of mind. Don't wait. Make your plan online today.
Plan Online Now