Wise Man Of The West

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Random House, Jun 30, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
3 Reviews

Matteo Ricci, an early recruit of the Jesuit order, was sent to China as a missionary in 1582. If he approached the Emperor with a Bible in one hand, in other he carried much of the accumulated technological and philosophical wisdom of the late Renaissance Europe, and thus found favour among the Mandarins, the men of learning who enjoyed high status at the Imperial court. He learned Chinese the better to discuss with them problems in science and technology, as also questions of religion and the hereafter. But his progress was not unopposed, for the Wise Man from the West came to be seen as an unsettling element in a too-settled society. Ricci died in 1610, disappointed in his ambition to convert the Emperor, and with him the whole of China, to Christianity. But the seed was sown and the crop, even after almost a century of atheistic communism, continues to grow in present-day China.

This story of the first fully documented contact between West and East offers a fascinating insight into the history of ideas during one of the most fertile eras in European and Chinese history. Vincent Cronin has built up a reputation with his scholarly, elegantly written works of history and biography, as one of the finest popular historians of his generation. This early book proves his gift as an acutely observant and sensitive historian.


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Review: Wise Man Of The West

User Review  - Lauren Albert - Goodreads

An affectionate portrayal that reads more like a bio of Cronin's favorite uncle than of a 16th century Jesuit. I actually got teary when he died--which tells you both the warmth of the profile and the ... Read full review

Review: Wise Man Of The West

User Review  - Tim Byron - Goodreads

A very skilfully written book about a remarkable man, Matteo Ricci. An Italian Jesuit priest, Ricci was the first foreigner to be allowed inside the Forbidden City in Beijing. Patient and Brilliant ... Read full review

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The Wise Man from the West
chapter one
chapter two
chapter three
chapter eight
chapter nine
chapter ten
chapter eleven
chapter twelve
chapter thirteen
chapter fourteen

chapter four
chapter five
chapter six
chapter seven

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About the author (2011)

Vincent Cronin is well known for his historical biographies and for his two-volume history of the Renaissance ("Probably the best book that has ever been written on the Renaissance" Times Education Supplement). He published his first book, The Golden Honeycomb, in 1954, and has since built a reputation as one of the finest historians of his generation. His other historical biographies include Louis and Antoinette, Catherine, Empress of All the Russias and Napoleon, which has been translated into eight languages and is a standard biography in both Britain and France ("To present Napoleon plausibly...takes nerve, originality, prodigious powers of research and a true historical imagination", Michael Foot, Standard). His dual biography of Louis and Antoinette ("an impressive addition to the small list of biographies that are neither journalism nor Christmas pudding", Robin Lane Fox) and his biography of Catherine, Empress of All the Russias ("A quite overpowering portrait of a great and admirable woman", Spectator) are also available as Harvill paperbacks.

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