Michela Fontana, Matteo Ricci: A Jesuit in the Ming Court(2011)
Author: Fontana, Michela
ISBN: 978 1 4422 0586 4
List price(s): 31.95 GBP 39.95 USD 54.81 EUR
Publication date: 16 May 2011
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (May 16, 2011)
"A stimulating and inspiring read. The first biography of the famous Jesuit truly based on Ricci's own account of his experience in China, this lively and captivating book is also knowledgeably informed by recent research on late Ming and late Renaissance society. Fontana skillfully shows readers the world Ricci encountered as he made his way from Rome to Beijing and explains his many scientific contributions. Unlike other attempts, this life story does not glorify him as either a hero or a saint, nor does it favor the scholar or the apostle. Instead, it shows Ricci the man and the challenges he faced in China in all their historical and human dimensions." --Marianne Bastid-Bruguière, Institut de France and CNRS, Paris
"In this gripping account, Michela Fontana traces the life of an exceptional individual and through it explores the epochal encounter of Chinese and European cultures in early modern times. The author's expertise in the history of science distinguishes this new biography as she provides fascinating detail on early modern Chinese and European sciences and societies and their interaction through historical actors. In addition to offering a compelling read appealing to a wide audience, this is also an excellent and accessible overview of Chinese-Western cultural relations, reminding us that the circulation of knowledge so typical of contemporary 'globalization' is, after all, an old phenomenon." --Eugenio Menegon, Boston University
"The extraordinary adventures of Matteo Ricci are related with the utmost care in this admirable biography by Michela Fontana, whose scientific background enables her to present a clear picture of both Western and Chinese knowledge in the various fields of science at the time." --Il Manifesto
"Matteo Ricci is a fascinating figure, and this excellent biography by Michela Fontana, a journalist and popularizer of science resident for some years in Beijing, does full justice to its subject." --Il corriere della sera
"Michela Fontana's definitive biography has the merit of presenting Ricci's everyday life with splendid narrative rhythm, historical rigor, and precise scientific understanding while helping readers to find their way in the Middle Kingdom." --La Stampa
"Michela Fontana's superb biography offers not only a detailed reconstruction of the extraordinary life of Matteo Ricci but also an exemplary introduction to the history of relations between the Christian West and China." --La Repubblica
"The [award] reflects both the members' recognition of the extraordinarily high quality of the author's research and writing and a desire to share their own pleasure in discovering a little-known figure in world political and religious history. At a time when the papacy was a European power to be reckoned with and the Jesuit order an authentic political force, the man that Michela Fontana's book reveals to us played a considerable part in forging a link and establishing dialogue between Europe and China. This work also shows us that globalization is not confined to the history of conquest and domination but can also be an extraordinary intellectual, spiritual, and cultural adventure." --Jury for the Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique 2010
Matteo Ricci (1552D1610), 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.
About the Author
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.