Friday, August 28, 2009

Technical appendix

It would be nice to have a brief appendix on the basic astronomy needed to understand the tianwenlüe. Something clear, short and self-contained. I thought I would easily find a good text in the literature but to my surprise I didn't. We should write one ourselves, I think. Besides, it will have to explain both Western and Chinese topics... maybe not a trivial text after all...

The mistery of Dias (I)

Besides all the textual problems there is also a different set of questions I think we need to clarify along the way: why did Manuel Dias write this text? where did he learn (Western) astronomy and cosmology? what was his knowledge of Chinese astronomy? We already discussed these issues a bit but I am expecting (hoping, actually) that new documents from B. Ajuda or ARSI will shed new light on this.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Uranographie Chinoise

Gustaaf Schlegel's Uranographie Chinoise (1875) is an excellent book for understanding the nomenclatura of traditional Chinese astronomy. Despite some polemical tendencies (don't forget that he was out to prove that "l'astronomie primitive est originaire de la Chine"), it serves as a very solid introduction into the system of traditional Chinese astronomy. We should read it carefully after the first draft is done.

D'Elia is a must!

I have been reading D'Elia's Galileo in China during the translation work, and I think this book needs to be read cover to cover after we finish the first draft of our translation. It is an excellent introduction to traditional Chinese astronomy and provides good translation of some terms.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TWL online!

The full text of the TWL in its First Collectanea of Heavenly Studies-version is available online through the Ricci Institute at University of San Francisco. We should keep this in mind if we want to digitize our translation. The actual web address is kind of long and complex, the simplest way to retrieve this ressource is by google for images of 天问略 (the Chinese title of TWL).

Images of TWL - Wooden Block vs. Movable Type

The Images of the TWL version included in the Imperial Encyclopaedia are definitely different from the ones in other editions, especially the First Collectanea of Heavenly Studies. They also carry legends! I think this is related to the fact that the Imperial Encyclopaedia was printed with movable type (one of the very few works in traditional China to use that technology).

Does the Qiankun tiyi have any images at all? We should check that.

Qiankun tiyi and its relation with TWL

The Qiankun tiyi was the first work introducing Western astronomy to China. It was compiled by Ricci and Li Zhizao and much more ambitious in scope than the TWL. Its main model seems to have been Sacrobosco's Sphaera. How did this work fail? And is its failure related to the composition of the TWL?

In the introduction we have to provide one extensive section on this book.

Disposition of Space in Scientific Texts China vs. Europe

Compared to traditional Chinese texts, the TWL has a lot of headers (some of which are not questions per se). This could be influenced by the European tradition. In order to establish that, we need to look carefully at both traditions and go from there.

Related to that is also the question of interpunctuation - some editions are, some editions are not interpunctuated. Why? Who did the interpunctuation? Marie-Theres discovered btw already one interpunctuation mistake.