Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East Review

Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East
Average Reviews:

(More customer reviews)
Are you looking to buy Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East? Here is the right place to find the great deals. we can offer discounts of up to 90% on Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East. Check out the link below:

>> Click Here to See Compare Prices and Get the Best Offers

Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East ReviewNo doubt motivated by growing international interest in China, two books have just come out (2011) on Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit who took residence in Beijing in 1601 and the first European to do so since Marco Polo. These two books, however, give a quite different treatment to their material. Po-Chia Hsia's A Jesuit in the Forbidden City is essentially a biography of Ricci, while Mary Laven's Mission to China is a book about cultural encounters. The results are interestingly complementary even if, or perhaps especially because, the books occasionally clash, whether in their overall portrayal of the famous Jesuit or in their rendering of specific scenes. (A comparative review of both books follows.)
A Jesuit in the Forbidden City has now become the most up-to-date and complete biography of Ricci (it certainly isn't the first). Tracing Ricci's life from his birth in Macerata in the Papal States to his death in Beijing, this offers an exhaustive if traditional account of the missionary's life and accomplishments. Hsia has given close attention to the Italian and Latin material, which are the most abundant, but his advantage is that he is able to read Chinese, and he has managed to unearth new snippets from Ming gazettes and other contemporary materials - this is all the more important that the source material is unsurprisingly weighted towards Ricci's own writing, with all the distortions and gaps this implies. Hsia was also prepared to delve more thoroughly than was done before into the lives of the various Chinese protagonists, and he sheds new light on key turning points in the mission's progress, for example the Jesuit's crucial first permanent move to Zhaoqing. He is able to provide extra background on the intellectual equipment, Buddhist and Confucian, of many of Ricci's interlocutors, bringing to life debates which, in the Jesuit's published Journal, are given an expectedly one-sided treatment. Hsia's Epilogue, finally, tracing Ricci's legacy from his death to the present, is particularly forceful and interesting.
For all the scholarly quality of A Jesuit in the Forbidden City, though, Laven would disagree (up to a point) with its portrayal of the Ricci mission. Mission to China places its argument both within the historical debate on Ricci - to what extent Ricci was intellectually honest with the Chinese in adapting Christianity to the Confucian philosophy cherished by the mandarins who were his friends, supporters, and patrons - and without it. Ricci was undoubtedly a man of exceptional intelligence: he was capable, after all, not just of learning Chinese but of holding his own in debates with China's intellectual elite, scholars and men who had gone through the most competitive and difficult examination process ever conceived, or of performing such feats as reciting the Confucian classics backwards and writing books on mathematics in his hosts' language. But Laven argues this has mislead historians into giving too much credit to his mission's intellectual dimension and not enough to the role of objects, shared social norms, and images. Hers is a wider point about cultural dialogue, and East-West dialogue in particular: 'We therefore cannot limit the history of encounter to the history of encounter between learned ideas [...] We need to acknowledge a world of rituals, images, and objects, which often speak more eloquently about the interplay between East and West than the learned texts for which the missionaries became famous.' (Mission to China, page 30).
Laven's book is more entertaining if less thorough in discussing Ricci's life than A Jesuit in the Forbidden City. Beginning with a weird and disquieting Soviet secret-service geographical survey of Cambridge, it make a whole set of unexpected points about the meeting of cultures past and present. It goes through, for example, the Jesuits' shopping list for the Chinese emperor, complete with ostrich feathers, astrolabes, fabric cuts, and folding screen, drawing intriguing conclusions as to the Jesuits' keen sense of dress. It shows how European and Ming Chinese notions of friendship curiously intersected at the time of Ricci's mission, and pays close attention to the role of gifts within them. It also explains how coincidental booms in book-printing in Europe and China aided the Jesuits. And it ultimately demystifies Ricci, though without necessarily subtracting from his achievements. A Jesuit in the Forbidden City and Mission to China are likely to appeal to different readers, and Hsia's biography may be essential for students looking for a full and complete chronological account, but they form a wonderful pair: challenging, interesting, and colourful.Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East Overview

Want to learn more information about Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East?

>> Click Here to See All Customer Reviews & Ratings Now


Post a Comment