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Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Chinese Translation of Euclid's Elements, Books I-VI (Jihe yuanben, Beijing, 1607) and Its Reception up to 1723 (review)

Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Chinese Translation of Euclid's Elements, Books I-VI... Peter Engelfriet. Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Translation of Euclid's Elements, Books I­VI (Jihe yuanben, Beijing, 1607) and Its Reception up to 1723. Sinica Leidensia, vol. 40. Leiden, Boston, and Köln: E. J. Brill, 1998. xii, 488 pp. Hardcover $135.50, ISBN 900-410944-7. The story of a translation of a book on geometry, even if it is a Western classic, might suggest a highly technical, rather dull study that is of interest only to specialized historians of mathematics. However, once a little of the historical context of this translation is filled in, it soon becomes apparent that understanding more about this project is of central importance in understanding the cultural interchange that took place between China and Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The first six books of Euclid's Elements, published in 1607, was the first substantial translation of a European text into Chinese. This in itself is surprising. Why should this particular work have been given priority for translation? Learning just a little more about the translators--Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi --only serves to heighten our puzzlement. Matteo Ricci was the missionary considered to be the "founder" of the Jesuit mission in China, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Chinese Translation of Euclid's Elements, Books I-VI (Jihe yuanben, Beijing, 1607) and Its Reception up to 1723 (review)

China Review International , Volume 6 (2) – Sep 1, 1999

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University of Hawai'I Press
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1527-9367
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Abstract

Peter Engelfriet. Euclid in China: The Genesis of the First Translation of Euclid's Elements, Books I­VI (Jihe yuanben, Beijing, 1607) and Its Reception up to 1723. Sinica Leidensia, vol. 40. Leiden, Boston, and Köln: E. J. Brill, 1998. xii, 488 pp. Hardcover $135.50, ISBN 900-410944-7. The story of a translation of a book on geometry, even if it is a Western classic, might suggest a highly technical, rather dull study that is of interest only to specialized historians of mathematics. However, once a little of the historical context of this translation is filled in, it soon becomes apparent that understanding more about this project is of central importance in understanding the cultural interchange that took place between China and Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The first six books of Euclid's Elements, published in 1607, was the first substantial translation of a European text into Chinese. This in itself is surprising. Why should this particular work have been given priority for translation? Learning just a little more about the translators--Matteo Ricci and Xu Guangqi --only serves to heighten our puzzlement. Matteo Ricci was the missionary considered to be the "founder" of the Jesuit mission in China,

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Sep 1, 1999

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