Simon Leys is the pen name of the literary critic, essayist, historical novelist, and eminent sinologist Pierre Ryckmans. Born in Belgium in 1935, he settled in Australia in 1970 and was a professor of Chinese studies at the University of Sydney from 1987 to 1993. His works include Chinese Shadows (1977), The Death of Napoleon (1991), a new translation of the Analects of Confucius (1997), and The Angel and the Octopus (1999). A fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities and a member of the Académie Royale de Littérature Française (Belgium), he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino del Duca in 2004.
“Simon Leys is living proof of Benjamin Franklin’s dictum that a cultured individual should be a jack of all trades.” (Sydney Morning Herald). Here the eminent sinologist and frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books turns his attention to such subjects as the Cultural Revolution, Nabokov, Hitchens, Orwell, Simenon, Confucius, and the fate of the university.