Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), the first of the early Jesuit missionaries of the China mission, is widely considered the most outstanding cultural mediator of all time between China and the West. This engrossing and fluid book offers a thorough, knowledgeable biography of this fascinating and influential man, telling a deeply human and captivating story that still resonates today.
Michela Fontana traces Ricci's travels in China in detail, providing a rich portrait of Ming China and the growing importance of cultural exchanges between China and the West. She shows how Ricci incorporated his ideas of "cultural accommodation" into both his life and his writings aimed at the Chinese elite. Her biography is the first to highlight Ricci's immensely important scientific work and that of key Christian converts, such as Xu Guangqi, who translated Euclid's Elements together with Ricci. Exploring the history of science in China and the West as well as their dramatically different cultural attitudes toward religious and philosophical issues, Michela Fontana introduces not only Ricci's life but the first significant encounter between Western and Chinese civilizations.
Michela Fontana, who holds a degree in mathematics and taught at Milano State University, is a science journalist and writer who lived in China for several years. She was a recipient of the Knight Science Fellowship for science journalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She has won the Glaxo Prize for science journalism, the Pirelli International Award for the popularization of science, and the 2010 Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique for the French edition of Matteo Ricci. She wrote the script for the play Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit Scientist at the Ming Court.
Table of Contents
Prologue Chapter 1: The Jesuit and Mathematics Chapter 2: In the East Chapter 3: The Difficulty of Learning Chinese Chapter 4: The Man from the West Chapter 5: The Pride of Li Madou Chapter 6: The Meeting of Confucius and Euclid Chapter 7: Metamorphosis into Mandarins Chapter 8: The Strength of Friendship Chapter 9: To Beijing! Chapter 10: Heated Disputes and Science Lessons Chapter 11: Prisoner of the Eunuch Chapter 12: In the Heart of the Empire Chapter 13: The Empty Throne Chapter 14: The Lord of Heaven Chapter 15: Doctor Paul Chapter 16: Euclid Becomes Chinese Chapter 17: The Open Door Chapter 18: After Matteo Ricci: The Scientific Legacy, Triumph, and Persecution Chronology Chinese Dynasties Glossary Bibliography