China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci, 1583-1610

China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci, 1583-1610

China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci, 1583-1610

China in the Sixteenth Century: The Journals of Matthew Ricci, 1583-1610

Excerpt

Father Matthew Ricci's diary, found among his papers after his demise, was originally written in Italian, and very probably with no thought of publication. Ricci died in 1610. The manuscript of his Diary was brought from Macao to Rome in 1614 by Father Nicola Trigault, who translated it into Latin and published it in 1615, together with an account of Ricci's death and burial. Ricci's Diary, as presented by Trigault, is a narrative account of the China Mission from the first Jesuit settlement at Macao in 1565 to the time of Ricci's death.

In our book title we use Journals rather than Diary because Trigault draws from Ricci sources other than the Diary, such as the Annual Mission Letters, Ricci documents to other missionaries, and personal narrative which Trigault says was omitted by Ricci because of his modesty.

The appearance of Trigault's book in 1615 took Europe by surprise. It reopened the door to China, which was first opened by Marco Polo, three centuries before, and then closed behind him by an incredulous public, who received the greater part of his fabulous narrative as the beguiling tales of a capricious traveler. Four Latin editions followed the first, in 1616, 1617, 1623 and 1648. It appeared in three French editions, in 1616, 1617 and 1618, in German, in 1617, in Spanish, in 1621, in Italian, in 1621, and excerpts from it are found in English in "Purchas His Pilgrims," in 1625. In so far as we can ascertain, no complete translation of Trigault's work was ever published in English before this present edition.

On the three hundredth anniversary of Ricci's death, Father Tacchi Venturi, S.J., published the original Diary in Italian, under title of "The Historical Works of Matthew Ricci." In 1942 the first volume of "Fonti Ricciane," a monumental opus by FatherPasquale D'Elia, S.J., appeared, and the second volume in 1949. The third volume of this great work is a three hundred and seventy-two page Index of volumes . . .

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