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"An unparalleled window into this crucial encounter between multiple worlds."
—Joanna Waley-Cohen, Julius Silver Professor of History, New York University
"Here at last is the text that many college teachers of Chinese, Asian, and world history have been waiting for: an accessible collection of primary sources on the life of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci and the Catholic mission that he helped establish in China. Ricci's missionary career indeed constituted a key moment in modern history, for it was through his examples and recommendations that the Jesuits in China collectively adopted an accommodative approach to Chinese culture and embarked on various projects of cultural translation that resulted in the first wave of sustained interactions between Chinese and European civilizations.
"Instructors and students alike will benefit greatly from Hsia's lucid introduction, which sets Ricci's life story against the broader background of Portuguese Asia, Catholic renewal, and late Ming China; the pithy, informative introductory statements preceding each document; a chronological chart of major relevant events; and an excellent annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources in multiple languages. This is a very affordable text produced at the highest academic standards."
—Qiong Zhang, Associate Professor of History, Wake Forest University
"A highly accessible introduction to the history of the Jesuits in China. Hsia offers a clear and concise overview of the key figures in this crucial episode of intercultural encounter: the first intellectual and cultural meeting of Europeans and Chinese. . . .
"In addition to providing a broad vision of the European and Asian contexts for Ricci’s work in the introductory essay, Hsia gives a valuable selection of documents from both Chinese and Western sources in translation . . . [including] items that genuinely demonstrate the two sides of this cultural exchange."
—Liam Matthew Brockey, Professor of History, Michigan State University
"Hsia's collection of source materials allows the reader to formulate his or her own conclusions—positive or pejorative—about the East-West encounter between Ricci and China. . . . [W]hat gives this book utility is the judiciously chosen series of original documents, some of which Hsia himself has translated in order to fill in areas previously missing in Ricci studies.
"Among the documents that more effectively reveal how Matteo Ricci formed his opinions of Chinese religion and influenced his missionary 'method,' are those that recount his discussions with Chinese Buddhist clerics and Confucian literati. . . . Such documents as this are useful examples of how East-West intellectual dialogue can be both creatively informative, while also being a frustrating illustration of how these disparate modes of thinking elude one another in veils of misunderstanding. That Hsia has now published these critical documents in one volume is a significant service to the field of China studies.
"[A] welcome addition to the scholarly project of better understanding how the Jesuit mission to China planted the seeds of cultural engagement and dialogue that have grown into the academic disciplines that look critically at Asia's historical past and cultural present."
—Anthony E. Clark, in Journal of Jesuit Studies
About the Author:
R. Po-chia Hsia is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of History at The Pennsylvania State University and the author of A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552–1610 (Oxford University Press, 2010).