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November 04, 1955 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1955-11-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1955

f _

English]
By PETE ECKSTEIN
Formosa is "exotic" and Wil-
liam Faulkner is "terrific", accord-
ing to Prof. Marvin Felheim of the
English department who got to
know both of them during a year
In the Far East.
The good-humored professor
taught two semesters at Taiwan
University in Teipei, and for sev-
eral weeks at the Nagano seminar
for Japanese professors, where
Faulkner also taught last summer.
"He's our greatest living writ-
er," Prof. Felheim said of the Mis
sissippian, but he tells a less flat-
tering story about Faulkner's visit
to Japan.
"He passed out in the middle of
the American. embassy. The of-
ficial story was that it was a sun-
stroke. Actually, he was hotter on
the inside than on the outside.
Back on Feet
"But he was back on his feet
when we got up to Nagano," where
both men taught American litera-
ture.
Prof. Felheim enjoys showing
visitors the Yakata, or summer ki-
mono, one of those professor-stud-
ents gave him and the other sem-
inar instructors.
Most of the professor's time in
Asia was spent on Formosa, where
he taught under the auspices of
the State Department on a Smith
-Mundt grant.
Formosa, after 50 years of Jap-
anese rule ending after World War
II, has been markedly influenced,
he commented. "It's more similar
to Japan than to the mainland."
20 Cents a Day
Rents are high, but food and
servants are cheap, due to a dearth
of capital and an abundance of
labor. "You can be pulled around
marked ". ad e?Pa-wr
town all day for 20 cents," he re-
marked.
After a trip around the island,
which is approximately the size of
Illinois, Prof. Felheim concluded
that it was "quite beautiful, quite
exotic.
"The most striking aspect of
life is the food. No American
knows what Chinese food is like-
it's divine."
Houses are of the Japanese type,
he continued, and each is sur-
rounded by a high wall topped
with jagged class. "It keeps out
thieves, dogs, and to some extent,
odor from the open sewers."
Do and Don't
Reports that the Formosans and
the mainland Chinese get along
well "aren't altogether true. They
do and they don't get along," Prof.
Felheim said, observing that stud-
ents formed district national
groups, socially and even to the
extent of sitting together in class.
"All is not happy on Formosa,"
he said. Though he experienced
no political pressures, "that does-
n't mean I wasn't aware that there,
are pressures. There is plenty of
evidence of unpleasant things.
"There's censorship of the press
and books. Anything mailed out
by foreign correspondents must be
checked. You can't buy Russian
books or any printed on the main-
land.
"But they consider themselves
-a nation at war, and these are
wartime restrictions.
"Students all tell you there are
informants in your classes. I don't
know if there were or not."
"They Were Afraid"
When Prof. Felheim told his ser-
vants \they would have to register
with the police as working for anE
alien, "they were afraid." HowI
Significant this attitude was "you

honestly can't tell. -
"There's corruption on the is-
land, and fraud and greed and all
the other elements you find, say,1
in the Republican Party. It's aE
human problem.
"There's no doubt about who's1
running the island. Chiang Kai-1

Professor Lauds Faulkner, Extolls Formosa

a

mosa periodicals and helping on
the translation of two Chinese
operas into English.
"Very few Americans were in-
terested in Chinese opera," he re-
lated. "It's sort of a bizarre ac-
tivity.
Show Stopper
"Once, when I walked into the
opera, the whole performance
stopped.
Life for a relatively large Wes-
terner like Prof. Felheim on an
island of relatively small Orientals
is a "constant series of adjust-
ments."
For example, "when I sat down
at the opera I had a terrible time
getting up. Once when I stood
up to let someone by, the whole
row of sets came tip with me."
Prof. Felheim topped off his
year in the Far East with a cruise
to Indonesia and a week in Bali,
which is "as exotic and more so
than any movie has ever attempt-
ed to portray it."
He also visited Singapore, Su-
matra, Malaya, and Japan, where
he lectured and came down with
yellow jaundice.

He was wheeled onto the boat
and spent the next few months
flat on his back, a rather incon-
gruous ending to an exciting and
active experience.
Concert Set
For Sunday
The third Choral Union Contest,
featuring the Cleveland Orchestra
conducted by George Szell, will
take place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday in
Hill Auditorium.
The program will include the
Overture to "The Marriage of Fig-
aro" and "Symphony in G. minor,"
both by Mozart, Richard Strauss'
"Don Juan" tone poem and Schu-
mann's "Symphony No. 4."
The orchestra, founded in 1917,
is currently celebrating its 38th
season. Szell has been conductor
since 1946.
Tickets are still available at the
offices of the University Musical
Society in Burton Tower.

FAULKNER AND FELHEIM-William Faulkner and Prof. Marvin
Felheim of the English department at a dinner the novelist gave
for fellow lecturers at the Nagano seminar in Japan last summer.

Shek and the legislature were elec-
ted during the war on the main-
land. he remnants of that govern-
ment are the government of Free
China.
"They're running a government
that just simply happens not to
exist. It's physical location is
Formosa."
Not All Dark
However, the picture is not com-
pletely dark. "Hhere are people
in high places," Prof. Felheim con-
tinued, "who are earnestly trying
to be democratic."
Unfortunately, "nowhere in the
Far East are people prepared to
assume all the responsibilities of
democracy. Communications are
not good enough, and traditions of
economic inequality are still
strong.
"I think we go around the world
kidding ourselves that other people
can fall into democracy with the
same ease as we do. You just
don't find leaders growing on
trees."
As for economic conditions,
"there's no question that the island
is propsperous," but he attributes
it largely to aid from this country.
So Would illinois
"Suppose you sank that mudh
money into Illoinois-it would be
prosperous too."
Highways, bridges and electri-
fication projects begun by the Jap-
anese are being completed with our
help. Commenting on the econ-
omic development under Japanese
occupation, Prof. Felheim remark-
ed that "in some cases Formosans
look back on the past as the good
old days."
As for the Nationalists' relations
with the United States, he said,
"if anything goes wrong they tend
to blame us. We are the only ma-
jor government in the West that
maintains an embassy on Formosa.
They're completely dependent on
us."
The offshore islands "are valued
for their prestige," he added.
"They do control Amoy harbor,
and can be used to prevent a cer-
tain amount of shipping. They
represent stepping stones either
way.
Secret Treaties
"In an oratorical contest I judg-
ed almost all the students spoke on
the significance of the islands.
"The others denounced secret
treaties-especially Yalta."
A United Nations Trusteeship
for the island "would be very un-
popular with the mainland Chin-
ese," he continued.
Expressing a "great feeling of
love" for the Chinese Formosan
peoples, Prof. Felheim said "they

are just ordinary human beings
like us. Americans have always
had an idea that every coolie had
his own special rice bowl that was
a work of art. That's just not
true.
"They don't have an exceptional
understanding of art and they're
not overly respectful of scholar-
ship, any more than people of any
nation."
Prof. Felheim taught two class-
es at the University of Taiwan--
a survey of English literature re-
quired of all students in the fore-
ign language department and a
course in American literature for
"overseas Chinese" studying on
Formosa.
Tremendous Pressure
There is tremendous pressure
on Chinese living in other parts of
Asia, he explained. Both the
Communists and the Nationalists
are trying to win their support,
and one means of appealing to
them is to offer educational cours-
es especially designed for them.
His students had long previous
experience with English, Prof.
Felheim said, averaging six years
of instruction in secondary school.
"I was able to lecture in Eng-
lish. My Chinese was strictly lim-
ited, even though I took lessons.
I knew just enough to order a pad-
dy cab or a meal.".
Chinese, he said, is a "difficult
language."
"You Tell Him"
"English was the basic language
in the department. Students then
can go on to French, Spanish, or
German. Unfortunately, they don't
teach Japanese, but you. tell the
Minister of Education what to do."
Control of the University by the
Minister, a political official, re-
sults in a lack of "acadeniic free-
dom", he added.
Prof. Felheim also taught army
officers in a language school,
training them to function as lia-
son with Americans.
"All of the officers I taught are
alone on Formosa," he said. "Their
families are on the mainland.
Their only hope is to return."
The Generalissimo and Madam
Chiang are "revered" by the offi-
cers, he commented. "Everything
they say is taken quite literally to
heart."
Prof. Felheim also served as the
consulting editor for the eight vol-
umes of an anthology of American
studies being edited by the U. S.
Information Service on Formosa.
The professor's other activities
included writing several articles
on the English language for For-

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