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Many books on the intellectual exchange between China and Europe, such as D.E. Mungello's excellent treatise on Jesuits in China, seem to begin the discussion with Matteo Ricci, viewing everything that happened earlier as a "pre-history" of sorts. In a sense, this is justified, as it were Ricci and his colleagues who made a true "exchange" a reality, as they were the first Europeans capable to directly communicate on a serious level with the Chinese intellectual elites.
However, the "pre-history" - the 70 years of failed, or only partially successful, attempts of establishing a line of communication between the two cultures (counting from the first arrival of the Portuguese to the China coast ca. 1513 and to Ricci and Ruggieri's moving from Macao to Zhaoqing to live there full-time in 1583) are also of great interest for historians. As Donald Lach ...Read more ›
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