Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China
(New York: HarperCollins, 2008), p. 44 (on Joseph Needham):
Studying Chinese, he once wrote, was "a liberation, like going for a swim on a hot day, for it got you entirely out of the prison of alphabetical words, and into the glittering crystalline world of ideographic characters."
Winchester doesn't give a source for the quotation. The quotation also appears in Robert Finlay, "China, the West, and World History in Joseph Needham's 'Science and Civilisation in China'," Journal of World History
11.2 (Fall, 2000) 265-303 (at 271, n. 20), who cites as a source Lu Gwei-Djen, "The First Half-Life of Joseph Needham," in Explorations in the History of Science and Technology in China
(Shanghai: Shanghai Chinese Classics Publishing House, 1982), pp. 1-36 (at 8), which I haven't seen.