North American Scholar

CLARK, Walter Eugene

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1881-09-08
  • Born City: Digby
  • Born State/Country: Nova Scotia
  • Parents: Hallet Sylvester, a ship's cabinetmaker, & Hannah Eliza Thomas C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1960-09-30
  • Death City: Vista
  • Death State/Country: CA
  • Married: Susannah Mott McGorrick, 19 Sept. 1915.
  • Education:

    A.B. Harvard, 1903; A.M., 1904; Ph.D., 1906; study in Berlin & Bonn.

  • Professional Experience:

    Prof. Sansk. U. Chicago, 1923-7; Wales prof. Sansk. Harvard, 1927-50; ed. Harvard Oriental Series, 1927-50; pres. AOS; rec. secy., AAAS.

  • Dissertation:

    “Quid de rebus Indicis scirent Graeci prisci quaeritur” (Harvard, 1906).

  • Publications:

    “Menander: A Study of the Chronology of His Life,” CP 1 (1906) 313-29; “The Importance of Hellenism from the Point of View of Indic Philology,” CP 14 (1919) 297-313, 15 (1920) 1-22; “Hindu-Arabic Numerals” in Studies in Honor of Charles Rockwell Lanrnan (Cambridge, 1929) 217-36; The Arybhatiya of Aryabhata (trans.) (Chicago, 1930); India (Chicago, 1933); Indian Conceptions of Immortality (Cambridge, 1934); Two Lamaistic Pantheons (Cambridge, 1937).

  • Notes:

    Clark was a leading authority on the history and civilization of India. His chief contributions were translations of works on mathematics and Buddhism. His early training in classics, some with Richard Pischl in Berlin, gave him an appreciation for precision along with the desire to amass all the relevant data on a given subject before committing his views to print. As a result his publications works are rather few, but they are magisterial and his other services to his field were great. At the time of his first employment only four universities in the country employed full-time Sanskritists and Clark began to proselytize for his subject, offering at the beginning of the century an argument that has become familiar at the end of it: most of humanity on this planet lives outside the continents of Europe and America and if we do not make efforts to understand these people, we shall risk serious misunderstanding of the world in general. Clark taught Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan and knew the Veda, the epics, the philosophical and scientific texts of the Indian sub-continent. His greatest contribution was his painstaking editing of Harvard Oriental Series, in which role he was often known to put as much effort into each text and consult as many authorities as did the authors. He was the second master of Kirkland House (1935-46) and in 1935 a trustee of the Harvard-Yenching Institute.

  • Sources:

    Harvard University Gazette (28 Oct. 1961); NatCAB 50:615; NYTimes (2 Oct. 1960) 84.

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr.