Qian Zhongshu, China's best-known man of letters, died on Saturday morning in Beijing at the age of 88. Qian, an expert of both Chinese and Western literature and culture, was born in 1910 at Wuxi, Jiangsu. After graduating from the department of foreign languages of Qinghua University and Oxford University, Qian studied French literature at Paris University. He returned to China in 1938 and taught at the Southeast Associated University and then acted as adviser and editor for the English sections of Beijing Library and Nanjing Central Library. After 1949, Qian was a language professor at Qinghua University and a research fellow at Beijing University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. During the Cultural Revolution, he was protected by late premier Zhou Enlai. Qian was elected vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1982. Qian is probably best known overseas for his novel City Besieged, which was popular at home and won international acclaim. But he stopped writing significant fiction after 1949, focusing instead on criticism and commentaries. His other major works included a collection of essays, On the Edge of Life, and a collection of commentaries, On Art. Qian was one of the first Chinese scholars to advocate multi-disciplinary approaches and methods in research of literary works. President Jiang Zemin phoned Qian's wife, Yang Jiang, to express his condolences.