One of the great essayists of the age

Dalrymple explains that the Belgian sinologist Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans)

lived more than half of his life in Australia, and retired early from his chair at Sydney University because he said that universities had become degree mills. As a colleague of mine put it with regard to medico-legal reports, from which he made a considerable income, ‘You turn the wheel and the sausage comes out.’

It was Leys, Dalrymple reminds us,

who first alerted the world, contrary to the lazy, corrupt or stupid hosannas of his academic colleagues, to the horrors of the Cultural Revolution, in prose of exceptional wit and lucidity for which he was much hated at the time.

Leys was also

a literary essayist of genius. If I were teaching someone to write, I would give him Leys to read.

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