“A gentleman and a scholar”

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(Sultan Idris University, Malaysia)

(by Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri – International Shakespeare Association, Executive Committee)

The death of Chee Seng Lim is a great blow to Shakespeare studies in Malaysia and the world. It is also a deep personal loss to very many academics in many countries.

For three decades in Malaysia, Professor Lim was the chief designer of programmes, projects and conferences on Shakespeare – as on Commonwealth Studies and, in fact, English studies generally. But this was only the starting-point for a sustained agenda of academic outreach across the world. He was a familiar figure at institutions and conferences across Europe and America, and of course in all Asian countries. On home ground, he was the most energetic and genial of academic hosts.

Beyond this formidable professional record, his death has registered, on all who came in contact with him, as a matter of personal shock and grief. The warmth and sincerity of his personality infused everything he said and did. His personal generosity and transparency of purpose carried over into his professional dealings. He was one of the last scholars to value unhurried, uncompromising engagement with the subject above the sick hurry and divided aims of academic careerism. He wrote extensively, but never for a Ph.D. He traveled, lectured and networked, but always in pursuit of a creative and unselfish agenda.

I feel a special sense of loss because of his exceptionally close interaction with my own department at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. We were touched and privileged that Chee Seng found in Kolkata a retreat and meeting-point within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur. Besides formal academic visits, he would regularly fly in to the Kolkata Book Fair, the National Library, even to private events. Our students practically viewed him as an extension of the faculty.

Chee Seng Lim was a living embodiment of everything the ISA stands for. Now that he is no longer alive, let us remember what he stood for even as we mourn his loss.

Sukanta Chaudhuri

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Author:Nick Walton

Nick Walton is a Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

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