First Western translation of Laozi

Latin after CDLXXVI
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First Western translation of Laozi

Post by jeidsath »

The first translation of the Dao De Jing into a Western language was executed in Latin by some of the Roman Catholic missionaries, and a copy of it was brought to England by a Mr. Matthew Raper, F.R.S., and presented by him to the Society at a meeting on the 10th January, 1788,—being the gift to him of P. Jos. de Grammont, 'Missionarius Apostolicus, ex-Jesuita.' In this version Dao is taken in the sense of Ratio, or the Supreme Reason of the Divine Being, the Creator and Governor.

P. Jos. de Grammont: Jean-Baptiste-Joseph de Grammont (1736-ca. 1812), French Jesuit missionary to China.

Does a scan or text of this translation exist anywhere? The above image was easy to find, but that seems to be all there is of it. Several of de Grammont's letters exist online. He seems to have played a minor role in French-Anglo-Chinese politics and was attached to the Qing court as a mathematician and musician (Chinese name Liang Dong-cai, 梁棟材).
"Here stuck the great stupid boys, who for the life of them could never master the accidence..."

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Re: First Western translation of Laozi

Post by will.dawe »

According to this disputatio on Vicipaedia, 道德經 was translated by Jean-François Noëlas in 1721, whose manuscript was recently published in “Uroffenbarung und Daoismus : jesuitische Missionshermeneutik des Daoismus” (Collani, 2008).

In another place we find a reference: “Liber Sinicus Tao Te Kim inscriptus, in Latinum idioma Versus [The Chinese Book Daodejing Written in Idiomatic Latin Verse]. Unpublished Manuscript. The British Library. London, England.”

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