Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spiritual Sinology featuring Manuel Dias

A recent publication by the Jesuit Michele Ferrero, entitled Sinologia spirituale. Lettere (Immaginarie) dal medioveo ai tempi nostri di 50 missionari che amarono la Cina, Chapter 5 "Cambio di dinastia" contains a fictive letter by Manuel Dias, in which he provides his interpretation of China. This could be good material for the introduction. For details, see:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Manuel Dias and his Chinese Translation of Contemptus Mundi

From: XIAO Qinghe, Thomas <>
Date: 2011/8/10
Subject: [ChineseCS] 李奭學:<瘳心之藥,靈病之神劑--陽瑪諾譯《輕世金書》初探>(2011)
To: ChineseCS <>

Spiritual Exercises: Emmanuel Diaz's Chinese Translation of the Contemptus mundi in Ming China

李奭學 編譯論叢 4:1 2011.03頁1-38

This paper looks at the translation of Thomas à Kempis’s Imitation of Christ into Chinese by Emmanuel Diaz, a late Ming Jesuit. The Imitation of Christ is a medieval European tour-de-force of prose that illuminates the spiritual path of union with Christ through the Eucharist. I approach the translated text of the work, titled Qingshi jinshu, from four perspectives. First I explore the textual history of the translated text and the decisive role Diaz played as the translator. Second, I investigate the source text of Diaz’s translation, which has long been identified as Luis de Granada’s Spanish rendition of the Imitation of Christ, entitled Contemptus mundi. My research shows that even if Diaz based his translation on Granada’s version, he also consulted the Latin original of à Kempis. The third section of the paper addresses both à Kempis’s and Diaz’s theories of reading expressed in the Chinese translation; both authors emphasize the textual search for divine Truth. Matching the terse style of à Kempis’s Latin original, Diaz's Chinese translation employs an archaic style similar to that of the Shangshu or the Book of Documents. The fourth and final section of this paper examines several annotated editions of the Qingshi jinshu, which circulated prior to the Republican era, in order to showcase the significance of Diaz’s efforts.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shandong Province Library copy

Information on Tianwenlue copy at Shandong Provincial Library is as follows:

天問略一卷[葡萄牙陽瑪諾撰 明萬歷刻本 十行二十二字白口左右雙邊有刻工]

Tianwenlue. 1 volume. [written by Manuel Dias from Portugal; Ming block print from the Wanli era; page layout: 10 lines, 22 characters per line]

It is not clear if this copy is identical with the one mentioned by Albert Chan in his ARSI catalogue.

This copy needs to be checked.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Benjamin Elman on circulation of Jesuit knowledge in China

Fresh from EU China again: This might be paradigmatically important for our preface to the TWL translation, also because Elman is a prominent figure in the field (see his On their own terms - an almost entire version of this book is available on Google books).

Benjamin A. Elman,

“Who is Responsible for the Limits of Jesuit Scientific and Technical Transmission from Europe to China in the Eighteenth Century?”

pp. 45-66 of: Ho, Wing-chung, Clara (ed.), Windows on the Chinese world: reflections by five historians,
Lanham: Lexington Books, 2009 (135 p., ISBN 9780739127698).

This article contains the text of a lecture Elman gave at Hong Kong Baptist Universty in November 2006.

For a summary of a talk with the same title, but with slighty different contents (the titles of the sections 3-7 are the same), given at Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island, USA) in March 2008, see pp. 55-56 of: .
For an abstract of his talk (“Who is Responsible for the Limits of Jesuit Scientific and Technical Transmission from Europe to China in the Eighteenth Century?”) at the Folger Institute, Washington DC, September 2009, see . This talk was followed by: Mordechai Feingold, “Why blame the Jesuits: Some Revisionist Reflections on the Transmission and Reception of Western Learning in Late Imperial China”; for an abstract see: .
Last month (March 2010) Elman’s talk at Rowan University (NJ) was entitled: "Why Blame China? Who Was Responsible for the Limits of Jesuit Science and Technical Transmission to China in the 18th Century?" (see ) .

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Book Mentioning "Tianwenlüe"

This just came in through EUCHINA, see below for Tianwenlue (the whole book might be interesting for the preface to our traduction):

Ian Inkster (ed.), History of technology, volume 29 (Dec. 2009).

London / New York: Continuum International Publishing Group
215 pp. (covering two special issues), ISBN 9781441136114

Special Issue: Kent Deng and Jerry Liu (eds.), Chinese Technological History: The Great Divergence., pp. 1-101

Abstract: The common question from the western point of view is of the sort; why did China lose its early leadership of productive technologies to Europe during the early modern period? Answers to this seemingly clear enquiry vary from general cultural inwardness to the interferences of imperial governance. This collection surveys such theories but alters the issue by raising the notion that Chinese technologies did not so much fail as move along a path different from that of Europe.

Table of contents:

pp. 1-2: Deng and Liu, “Editorial Introduction”

pp. 7-28: Patrick K. O'Brien, “The Needham Question Updated: a Historiographical Survey and Elaboration”

pp. 29-55: Jerry C.Y. Liu, “Cultural Logics for the Regime of Useful Knowledge during the Ming and early Qing China c. 1400-1700”

(p. 44: Ricci; p. 46; Kong Zhenshi, preface to Dias’ Tianwen lüe; p. 46/47: Wu Weizhong, postscript to Schreck’s Qiqi tushuo;
p. 50: “it is probably an understatment that there was never a pure transfer of useful knowledge from Europe to China during
the Ming and early-Qing times. The Jesuit activities in China may serve as an important indicator here ...”).

pp. 57-79: Kent G. Deng, “Movers and Shakers of Knowledge in China during the Ming-Qing Period”

Abstract: The period of 1600-1910 is commonly viewed as one of decline in Chinese science and technology in world history. This article examines the movers and shakers of knowledge to show how the Chinese tried to catch up with the advancing West. They were not as stubbornly conservative as one might think. However, a degree of openness did not guarantee China’s ability to modernize.

pp. 57-62: The Jesuit period, c. 1600-1840;
1) pp. 57-59: How did it all begin?;
2) pp. 59-62: Why did Western knowledge not take China by storm before 1800?;
pp. 63-74: The Westernization period, 1840-1910; pp. 74-79, notes and references

pp. 81-101: Harriet T. Zurndorfer, “China and Science on the Eve of the 'Great Divergence' 1600-1800: A review of recent revisionist scholarship in Western languages”

Abstract: The first part of this study considers both general and specific publications that have re-framed the way China specialist and others have conceived Chinese science and attempts to relate these representations to diverging patterns of economic development between China and Europe before the 19th century. In the second part, this essay focuses on the Jesuit transmission of European science to China, and its consequences. It argues that the Ming and Qing governments’ efforts to control the Jesuit-transmitted knowledge in these fields stimulated ever more interest among local scholars in Chinese traditions of mathematics and astronomy, which culminated in the 18th-century ‘evidential research’ movement. But because the scientific knowledge the Jesuits conveyed was already out of date, before their arrival in China, local scholars never had the possibility to make a complete reassessment of their own mathematical and astronomical practices. As the primary and – at times, the only – translators of Western scientific thought to China, the Jesuits had an enormous historical impact on how Chinese scholars became trapped in a pre-Copernican universe in which Chinese natural philosophy, with its focus on metaphysical interpretations of the natural world, remained entrenched until the 19th century.
pp. 81-86, Introduction to the histiory of Chinese science in a global perspectives: Old and new debates
pp. 86-91, Jesuit scientific mission in China: Flattery as strategy
pp. 91-93, Helping to make the earth stand still: The Jesuit agenda and Chinese priorities
pp. 93-96, The significance of the first encounter: Intellectual dead end?
pp. 97-98, Some further observations; pp. 98-101, Notes and references.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Other texts by Manuel Dias

Today I had a look at the last seven volumes of the recently published collection Chinese Christian Texts from the Library of France (Taipei: Ricci Institute, 2009), edited by Nicolas Standaert, Ad Dudink and Nathalie Monnet, and included in volume 23 there are two texts by Manuel Dias.

The first text, entitled Tang jingjiao beisong zhengquan, is an annotated presentation of the Nestorian monument found near Xian - this is an interesting (yet fragmentary) text because it has some information about the publishing procedure of Jesuit Chinese writings.

The second text carries the title Tianxue juyao (Crucial summary of Heavenly Studies) and is extremely interesting because it is a manuscript rather than a printed text. In fact, the manuscript looks like a preparatory version for a printed edition of the text. I also wonder to what extent this religious text contains references to astrononomy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More on the original copy II

Talked with Zhang Baichun from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. He has been commissioned (together with a host of other scholars) to inventorize, organize and eventually publish a huge collection of original writings from the China mission Jesuits that are stored at the Vatican. During this editorial work, he has been on the lookout for something that might look like an original copy of the Tianwenlüe - also because he believes that there must be such an original text. Let's hope he is right.