It all began with a dream. A young woman saw a white tiger leap into her lap. It was both auspicious and unlucky -- her son, the fortune-teller said, would grow up with no brothers, and his father's health would be endangered by his birth. That son, however, would have a distinguished career, after going through many misfortunes and dangers.The dream was prophetic. The child was his mother's only male child and his father died of illness when the boy was only five. He grew up during the wartime and period of political turmoil in China, passing through many troubles, and he has had a very distinguished career. He is Yang Xianyi, renowned scholar, translator and interpreter of Chinese and Western literature.This delightful memoir of Yang Xianyi gives a candid and entertaining account of himself as a lighthearted and mischievous young man who immersed himself in the learning of European culture, ancient and modern, when he studied at Oxford in the 1930s. But it is also the illuminating self-portrait of a deeply patriotic intellectual living in a China under the throes of change, giving rare insight into the survival of a courageous, witty and principled individual during the harsh century of Chinese liberation.