The French image of China before and after Voltaire

Author: Basil Guy

Volume: 21

Series: SVEC

Publication Date: 1963

Pages: 472

ISBN: 978-0-7294-0073-2

Price: £50


Chapter I. The image takes shape
Introduction: early merchant relations; France and the politics of religion; the rites controversy
Chapter II. Scientia sinensis
Religious contributions to Europe’s knowledge of Chinese geography, history, and chronology; the great revelation: Chinese religion; Chinese morality and politics
Chapter III. The libertines and the birth of the Chinese Sage
Chinese chronology, the basis of attack; the negative approach: religious criticism; the positive approach: moral regeneration and political reform; the birth of the Chinese sage
Chapter IV. Varying perspectives
Chinoiseries; imaginative literature, I; gadflies
Chapter V. Voltaire, sinophile
Voltaire and the Jesuits; Chinese motifs; political criticism and religious toleration; China in the Essai sur les mœurs; sinomania
Chapter VI. Transformations
Enthusiasts and moderates; growing discontent; sinophobia: Diderot and Rousseau
Chapter VII. The glory and the dream
Physiocracy; imaginative literature, II; sinology
Chapter VIII. The image fades
China: the reality behind appearance; China’s rivals: Hinduism, Hellenism, and primitivism; conclusion
Appendix A. Chronological summary of the history of the Society of Jesus and its relations with China
Appendix B. A comparative table of Chinese texts in English and French romanization
Appendix C. The development of Voltaire’s chapters on China in the Essai sur les mœurs
Appendix D. A list of the significant works in which Voltaire mentions China

Voltaire Foundation

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