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Shi Jingqian’s China: The scholarly context and cultural exploration of a giant in Sinology | Cultural Perspective | udn Global

Shi Jingqian’s China: The scholarly context and cultural exploration of a giant in Sinology | Cultural Perspective | udn Global
Shi Jingqian’s China: The scholarly context and cultural exploration of a giant in Sinology | Cultural Perspective | udn Global
“I have every one of his books!” This is when Taiwanese singer Wu Bai talked about the sinologist Shi Jingqian, he couldn’t hide his excitement…

▌This article is an excerpt from the book “China Across the World: The Historical and Cultural Exploration of Shi Jingqian, a Giant of Sinology” (The Times, 2023)

Introduction/Shi Jingqian

Gaspar. Gaspar da Cruz recalled an episode in South China in the winter of 1556-1557: “It was a moonlit night, and several Portuguese and I were sitting in our residence. On the riverside bench next to the gate, suddenly some young men came over from the river in a boat. They were taking a boat trip on the river to kill time, playing various musical instruments on the boat. We thought the music was very nice, so we asked someone to call them nearby. He said he wanted to invite them to come and join in the music. These polite and affable young people approached in a boat and began to tune the instruments. It gave us great pleasure to see them working hard to prepare themselves so that they could play a tune that was perfectly harmonious.”

Da Cruz and his Portuguese friends liked the music very much, so they asked the Chinese musicians to come back the next day and bring some singers. The Chinese agreed immediately, but did not show up the next day. However, they seemed to see that Da Cruz was really interested. “In order not to completely disappoint us, they brought the same instruments over at dawn one morning and played for us a song about lovers breaking up at dawn. s song”.

From other accounts of Da Cruz we know that he was not completely without music while he waited for these musicians to return. Because he followed the custom of the local Cantonese people, he bought two nightingales, a male and a female, fed them with cooked rice grains smeared with egg yolk liquid, and placed them in a cage each. The two cages were not far apart and partially covered. , so that they can “feel each other’s presence, but cannot see each other.” As Da Cruz recorded in a cheerful tone, under this arrangement, “the male bird is immersed in the music”, the female bird follows suit, and the singing of the two birds makes December “like April.”

Sinologist Shi Jingqian visited Taiwan in 2005.Picture/Reporter Information Library

We can interpret this scene however we want, taken from the past. Gaspar. Da Cruz was a Dominican monk who went to Canton in order to convert the Chinese to Christianity. His missionary mission was unsuccessful, so he leisurely returned to Portugal. When he arrived in Lisbon, he happened to catch up with the terrible plague of 1569, and the sick and dying needed his help. His selfless dedication to patients cost him his life, but before his death, he had seen his “monograph, which described Chinese things and their special features in great detail” in print.

In late February 1570, two weeks after his death, this “monograph” was published. It has twenty-nine chapters and is the first standard-length book specifically about China published in the West. For people like me who know China from the outside, Da Cruz’s works are still a model and source of inspiration for China to follow. Da Cruz had lofty religious goals, clergy habits, and was friendly with Portuguese adventurers. He only knew a little bit about Chinese, but he never lost his generous temperament, or in all his writings, he always insisted on taking into account accuracy. and Guangbo.

For him, the music of the moonlight and the song of his nightingale were an integral part of the story of a vast country that was sometimes cruel and confusing. Da Cruz wanted to find elements that were difficult to express but would give a rough idea of ​​China’s overall picture, but admitted that this was not possible.

As he said in the preface to his “monograph”, he cherished the hope of “inferring things that are still unknown from the things described in it.” The situation in China is completely different from what Da Cruz learned through writing or orally, and what others saw and heard in any other society. “Distant things from those societies often make people think they are great, but in fact they are not that great.” China It is “the complete opposite of this, because China is much more remarkable than it gives people the impression of it.”

(Left) Da Cruz’s 1569 book “Chinese Scenery” / Bayer’s 1730 book “Synopsis of the Chinese Language” Picture/…

If I say that in my monograph on China, I often have to admit that I and Gaspard. Like Da Cruz, I made the mistake of overestimating my favorite research object. I must also admit that I am overly enthusiastic and even too hasty in learning from many schools of thought (readers who have read the articles included in this book will definitely I feel this way). Regarding this shortcoming, I also found a senior who I could comfort myself with, namely Theophilus. Siegfried. Theophilus Siegfried Bayer.

Bayer was born in Königsberg, East Prussia, in 1694, the son of a painter. He received sufficient traditional education in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew in primary school and university, and then when he was nineteen years old, he Suddenly changed my mind. Later, Bayer described the change at that moment in his autobiography of his life:

“When I was in China in 1713, I suddenly had an idea – suddenly I just wanted to learn Chinese. Next, I started to do it, thinking – or more specifically, dreaming – how to Understand that mysterious science. If I could produce some small results in that field, I could consider myself the grandson of God and the King of Kings. Like a pregnant rabbit, I gathered everything I could find. In my cave, I can compile some kind of dictionary and an introductory book for understanding the rules of the Chinese language and Chinese literature.”

After seventeen years of hard work in Königsberg, Berlin, and St. Petersburg, Bayer’s brainchild, the two-volume Museum sinicum, was published in 1730. It was the first book published in Europe. Books about Chinese. “Chinese Summary” highlights the vastness of Bayer’s cave and the long gestation period, with a wild and eccentric style. The book was not a success. In fact, shortly before his death, Bayer read the book’s merciless disparagement by France’s most famous Orientalist scholar. But just as Da Cruz did in his book a hundred and sixty years ago, Bayer strives to be both fair and comprehensive despite his limited knowledge. The difficulties he has to overcome are extremely difficult and may not be overcome at all.

First of all, Bayer knew almost no Chinese, and had only a few imprecise fragments and crookedly written Chinese characters as research materials. As an academic in the newly built city of St. Petersburg, he had some prestige and a small salary, but he had few books at hand. It often took him several years of correspondence to find answers to relatively simple language problems.

In addition, the European Orientalist research tradition at that time either wanted to find the “key” to the concepts behind the Chinese language that could solve all the mysteries in one fell swoop, or it wanted to find all-encompassing guiding principles, and Bayer inherited this tradition : Therefore, his work is not only doomed to produce little research results, but also has everything wrong from the beginning. But as Bayer wrote in his characteristically (and somewhat jokingly) erudite letter to a friend, he “bravely took on the task. Why not? The Greeks conquered Troy by trying. , everything is possible by trying, as the old woman of Alexandria said in Theocritus’ Bucolics.”

In a long introduction to “Compendium of the Chinese Language”, Bayer considers the changes in Western views of China from the mid-fourteenth century to the mid-sixteenth century. In Marco. During the period after Polo’s sojourn in China, as the Mongol Empire collapsed and all known trade routes were disrupted, the country “seemed to disappear gradually, until it was reduced to a star falling in the night sky and disappeared without a trace”; but once China “When it is revealed to us again, it immediately appears as a new world. The people who live there cultivate politeness, education, and elegant style according to the teachings and principles established by their ancestors, thereby competing with the European countries for this kind of glory.”

However, many brave pioneers in academia and missionary circles devoted little effort to analyzing the Chinese language itself in their monographs on China. It was this lack—one that, for Bayer, was fascinating and puzzling—that he set out to remedy. In his writings, Bayer showed off his profound knowledge of his predecessors in the academic field, and discussed many theorists who have learned from many schools of thought with a seemingly comfortable way; he used their words to line the inner walls of his cave, as if he felt that he was expressing It was his unshirkable duty to feel a perfect fit with them.

Shi Jingqian (left), professor of history at Yale University, and his wife Jin Anping (right), who is also a historian, visited Taiwan in 2005…

Bayer spends some space discussing these theorists, giving us a rough idea of ​​how heterogeneous the approaches to linguistics he wants to coalesce are: for example, the Englishman John. John Webb devoted most of his academic career to proving that Chinese is the earliest language in the world and thus the “mother” of all other languages; the Dutchman Isaac. Isaac Vossius praised Chinese art and science as the leader in the world, “showing that if he could, he would want to be born in China, not where we are.”

Frenchman Philippe. Philippe Masson “proved that Chinese is an ancient Hebrew dialect. Understanding Chinese can solve many difficult linguistic problems in the Old Testament. Therefore, when we understand the “Manna” in the Bible ) is just a variation of the common Chinese food “mantou” made by steaming dough, one can easily understand the essence of the food “manna” that God gave to the Israelites in the desert.”

For the Swedish scholar Olaus. For Olaus Rudbeck (who, Bayer says, expressed his views “with an almost frightening vigor and verbosity”), Chinese is the language closest to the Gothic language. But according to Bayer, although their theories were “vague and superficial” or “lost in the fog,” none of these people deserved to be treated coldly because they had carefully turned their ideas into theories and had “intelligent brainpower and Meticulous style” as the backing.

Bayer’s efforts to balance fairness and absurdity are reflected in his discussion of Andreas. Andreas Müller was put to the greatest test. This genius from Pomerania claims to have designed a simple set of “Chinese learning tips” (clavis sinica) that will allow anyone to understand Chinese in a few days, or at most a month; but He refused to share the details of this set of secrets with Europeans, and offered to sell them for two thousand thalers, but he could not find a buyer. Shortly before his death, Miller put all his manuscripts into storage. Yiju, including the famous learning tips.

When evaluating Miller’s academic achievements, Bayer admitted that Miller was “greedy” and “fabricated” original materials in order to confirm his arguments. His Chinese characters were “poorly written” and some of his wrong explanations appeared “completely weak”. He used musical scales to Constructing an entire theory of Chinese character tones “is like imagining the entire country singing at a party—fourths, octaves, double octaves!” But despite these and other shortcomings, Bayer never believed that Miller’s His work was not worth taking a look at, and in his view, his work was as valuable as that of the other scholars he analyzed: for what Miller showed throughout his career, no matter how unfairly judged, was “Strong intellectual curiosity and admirable productivity.”

As for his own work, Bayer only wrote: “I called my book “Synopsis of the Chinese Language” because that was the name that first came to my mind, and because I could not find a better name.” As for its value, “No It is not up to me to detail what I achieved in these two volumes, nor to how or to what extent I failed; it is up to the reader to judge.” Even though I read the French scholar Etienne in 1738. After Etienne Fourmont “disdainfully and harshly” belittled his life’s work, Bayer still wrote to his friends, saying that his respect for Fourmont’s academic achievements was not “diminished” by this: “I admire my opponent. , and even the enemy’s true strengths and strengths.”

Sinologist Shi Jingqian and his Chinese works.Picture/Reporter Information Library

Nowadays, we are in an academic world filled with dictionaries, specialized dictionaries, and bibliographies, and relatively speaking, we have more opportunities to get to know China and Chinese scholars. Therefore, the works of Bayer and Da Cruz may only be interesting to today’s people. Curious ancient book. Bayer himself seemed to be unaware of Da Cruz, and after Bayer’s work was severely criticized by Fulmon, very few people read his work. These two scholars were soon replaced by others, by people who were more knowledgeable and insightful – or who were more likely to be favored by publishers and propaganda machines.

But I love thinking about these two men and reading their thoughts, because every one of us will soon be replaced too. Years of research and writing will then be dismissed as short-lived or inadequate. New texts emerge or old ones are re-evaluated; new themes attract scholars and their readers; new interpretations of the past push aside old ones.

As Bayer reminds us again and again, academic research itself is filled with a kind of almost irrepressible enthusiasm. We do what we can when we can, and then get blamed or rewarded—or maybe both. If after hard research we choose to do nothing, not to write down the results of our research, not to estimate their value, and not to make our ideas public, we are protected in a way, but it is a protection that cannot withstand attacks. , a kind of protection from not seeking true knowledge. When we are silent, we can still serve as overseers of the field, perhaps even silently contemplating the field, but we are never truly engaged in the deepest parts of the debate.

I remembered a time long ago when I was walking with my father in the rain. My father’s terrier, Thomas, suddenly shook his body with excitement, barked at the rabbit’s burrow, and dug his front paws into the ground, causing the dust to fly between his open hind legs. I stood nearby and watched this scene in surprise. The soil piled higher and higher, the dogs kept barking, and it started to rain; but no rabbit showed up. Hearing Thomas’s noisy advance, the rabbit had already known that something was wrong and had probably retreated from the connecting tunnel to a more undisturbed shelter.

Maybe that’s my own modernist version of Bayer’s burrow, only this one is messy. And, undoubtedly, I, like Dacruz, value all this more than I should give it. But the dirt is indeed piling up, and in addition to the books I have written over the past twenty-five years, I have also written many articles about China; this book contains what I think best represent my efforts to be precise and—in Do your best in every period – strive to be fair and transparent in your articles. These articles seem to be logically divided into five categories: articles about Chinese and Westerners who want to cross into each other’s culture; articles about Confucianism and the public power of the Chinese government; articles about many aspects of Chinese social history; articles about revolutionary China Article; article in memory of my mentor.

I call this collection my Chinese Roundabout, partly out of admiration for Wallace. In homage to Wallace Stevens—who has been a part of my life for so many years—but also because I love the word “roundabout.” The word is intended to mean taking a circuitous route, but doing so with a clear purpose in mind. The word is also intended to express an attempt to use some logic to order many vehicles coming from all directions to the same point (at least in England, the word means the American traffic circle/circle).

Most importantly, because it also means “carousel”, it reminds children, that is, future scholars, of holding a painted wooden horse tightly with their knees, grabbing the horse’s head with both hands to prevent it from falling, and tilting their head back violently. Laughing in a dizzying spin.

Shi Jingqian (right) was invited by the United Daily News to visit Taiwan in 1999 and had a conversation with Yu Yingshi (left). Picture/report information…

“China Across the World: A Historical and Cultural Exploration of Shi Jingqian, a Giant of Sinology”

author:Jonathan D. Spence

Translator: Huang Zhongxian

Publisher:published by times

Publication date:2023/09/05

Content introduction:“China Across the World” selects 25 important short works by Shi Jingqian, and is Shi Jingqian’s only short story anthology. The book is divided into five parts: 1. Figures and ideas that cross the cultural barriers between the East and the West such as Huang Chialiu, Matteo Ricci, and Malraux’s “The Temptation”; 2. The development of Confucianism and the operating mechanism of the Chinese government’s public power; 3. Food, taxation, medicine, Research on various aspects of Chinese society such as opium; 4. Modern revolutionary China after breaking away from the imperial system; 5. Commemorative texts in memory of the master and sinology giant. These 25 articles contain themes that echo Shi Jingqian’s masterpiece, allowing readers to have a glimpse of his academic context, and to go on a journey of exploration of Chinese history and culture in writing full of emotion and intellectuality.

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The article is in Chinese

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