Confucius. La Morale de Confucius, Philosophe de La Chine (First introduction to Confucius in French) Amsterdam: 1688.

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[Jean de la Brune? Louis Cousin?]. La Morale de Confucius, Philosophe de La Chine (First introduction to Confucius in French). Amsterdam: Chez Pierre Savouret, 1688. First Edition.

Binding: Hardcover (Full Leather). Book Condition: Very Good Condition. Size: 6"-7" - Sextodecimo (16mo). Item Type: Book.

Collectible copy of the first French printing of sayings by Confucius. British Museum Short-title Catalogue of Books in French 1601-1700, C1371b. The Bodleian Library at Oxford holds John Locke's copy of this book (Locke 7.262a).

Jesuit missionaries in China introduced the Analects of Confucius to the West with the publication in Latin of Confucius Sinarum philosophus in 1687. This book followed the next year, not as a complete version of the Analects, but as a compilation that presented Confucius' ethics.

In the introduction (Avertissement), the unnamed editor says the public is indebted "to the fathers Intorcetta & Couplet, Jesuits, who translated, from Chinese into Latin, the three books of Confucius, from which we have drawn this piece of morality" (p. [13]).

In keeping with the Jesuit's syncretism between Confucianism and Catholicism, the editor presents Confucius as a moralist who drew "from the purest sources of natural reason" (p. [1]) and was equal to, or even better than, European writers. Confucius "has a very considerable advantage, not only over a large number of writers of paganism, who have dealt with such subjects, but also over several Christian authors," he writes (p. [2]). The implication (shared by the Jesuits) is that Confucius had an understanding of the true Christian God and reflected a pure religion in China before it was befouled by other gods. The Chinese, he writes, "from the beginning of their origin to the time of Confucius, were not idolatrous, . . . they worshipped only the Creator of the universe, whom they always called Xam-ti . . . the sovereign Master of the world" (pp. [14]-[16]).

An unusual feature of this copy is that laid in is an engraved plate labeled "San Kiao Tong Miao | Temple de l'Union des 3 Sectes" that shows statues of three "Gods": "Le Dieu Foe" [or Fo, Chinese name of Buddha], "Le Dieu Confucius" and "Le Dieu Laokiun" [Lao-tse]. The engraving is credited: "Voiez le P. Kirker Jesuite," which seems to suggest that it is based on Father Athanasius Kircher's China Illustrata (1667). While the plate is folded down to fit the text block, it is not clear it was originally part of this book. The introduction celebrates Confucius as opposing a Chinese acceptance of multiple gods, including "Foe's idol" (p. [17]), which doesn't fit the scene depicted in this plate. I have been unable to find a listing for this book that includes an engraving and have been unable to find the engraving listed anywhere else. The left side of the bottom fold has an old repair with adhesive tape which has browned with age.

Text block is tight and unmarked. Paper in excellent condition, though toned from age. Original binding in mottled sheepskin; six bands. The top three sections have separated from the front board, the fourth section is missing; the sixth and seventh sections are still glued to the signatures, although they have separated from the front or rear board. The Title panel in the second section (partly lost) reads: [C]ONF[V] | DE LA | CHINE (with the [C] missing, the imprint of the [V] (for a U) visible and the bottom of CHINE missing). Marbled end papers intact; binding is tight in spite of the loss to the spine. No foxing in this copy.

A previous owner has written his name at the top of a blank page in the front of the book. Another? owner has marked his name with light red chops down the side of the page. The page edges are marbled to match the end papers. On the inside front cover is pasted in the large elongated octagonal label of a French bookseller: "Librairie | Amedee LEGRAND | 93. Bd St Germain, 93 | PARIS | [line] | ACHAT de BIBLIOTHEQUES | Tel. FLEURUS.28.40".

Quantity Available: 1. Shipped Weight: 0 lbs 6 oz. Category: Antiquarian & Rare; Chinese; Philosophy. ISBN: No ISBN. Inventory No: 1205.
PRICE: $US 750.00