It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of our colleague and friend Raoul David Findeisen, who was a founding member of our association and its regional representative for Austria. Raoul suffered from a lung cancer, which was diagnosed only a few months ago. With his passing, our association has lost a veritable scholar. Although his research interests were mainly linked to modern Chinese literature and culture, he also published quite a few significant works in the field of Chinese thought and comparative philosophy, especially regarding Nietzsche and the reception of Western thought in modern China.
He was born in Saignelégier, Switzerland and studied Sinology, Japanese studies, Romance languages and literature studies, philosophy and comparative literature in Berlin, Taipei, Beijing and Bonn. In 1988 he became an assistant at the East Asian Seminar of the University of Zurich, and worked there as a senior lecturer from 1993 until 1999. In the following years, he taught Chinese language and literature at the Ruhr University in Bochum, where he became full professor of Sinology in 2001. In the period from 2004 until 2008, he was Dean of the Faculty of East Asian Studies at the same university. In 2009, he moved to Central Europe and worked as a professor for modern Chinese literature at the Comenius University in Bratislava, simultaneously delivering continuous guest lectures at the Institute for East Asian studies at Vienna University. During last years of his life, he devoted most of his time to the development of Sinology and studies in Chinese literature in the region, working inter alia as the chief editor of the Slovak international academic journal Studia Orientalia Slovaca.
He was an internationally renowned expert in Lu Xun studies, but his wider research interests were mainly focused on Chinese and comparative literature, Chinese sociology and culture, and textual analysis of manuscripts from the Republic of China. The latter represented one of his deepest intellectual and professional passions. During the last few years, he tightly cooperated with Professor Wang Xirong from the Shanghai Jiaotong University in a large research project entitled The Complete Collection of Lu Xun’s Manuscripts. In the framework of this project, he continuously travelled to Shanghai every summer during the past years in order to deliver guest lectures and to collaborate with Chinese colleagues. The project was not limited to the investigation of manuscripts, but also aimed at establishing an independent study program on manuscript research in the official curricula at Chinese universities.
His most important works are written in German, English and Chinese. They include some earlier studies of the reception of Nietzsche and other Western philosophers in China, profound analyses of Lu Xun’s life and work and of his role in the first decades of the 20th century, investigations in the hitherto less known writings of Guo Moruo, contributions to the exploration of Chinese literary theory, several works on intercultural encounters between China and Europe, and numerous articles regarding the methodological problems of Western research in Chinese literature. He also edited several important monographs and anthologies containing recent research results of renowned Western sinologists, working in the area of Chinese literary and cultural studies.
He never dressed his works up in a lot of false finery, but, on the other hand, he was anything but a dull purist. Hence, it is by no means coincidental that many of his works were translated into Chinese. Although he held many prestigious honors, he remained a sincere scholar and a humble man. In lively conversations with his many friends and colleagues, he was always willing to share his knowledge with them and expressed his views with deep enthusiasm. He searched – and discovered – new horizons in Sinology that enhanced the dialogues between China and Europe. His legacy is much more than new and improved research methods in Sinology and unique techniques of textual analyses. Raul David Findeisen personifies the genuine spirit of a brilliant mind who never settled for mainstream answers.
With his passing, we have lost a brilliant sinologist and a devoted member of our association. He will be missed.