Author: LI Xinde, Associate Professor, School of Foreign Languages, Wenzhou University
Western missionaries who went to China paid a lot of attention to Chinese Confucianism and Buddhism, but Daoist culture and Daoism were not studied seriously until the late Qing. Earlier missionaries such as Robert Morrison, Charles Gutzlaff, W. H. Medhurst and Samuel Wells Williams dismissed Daoist culture and Daoism because they only noticed its superstitious and idolatrous aspects. Late Qing missionaries like Joseph Edkins, James Legge, John Chalmers, Ernst Faber, W. A. P. Martin, William Soothill and their followers showed greater interest and deeper understanding of Daoist culture and Daoism in their writings. As a result, they translated the Daoist canons into various European languages. Their endeavors in Daoism and Daoist culture had wider impact in the West, which has not been much studied by scholars today. This paper will briefly trace the history of translation of Daoist texts by these missionaries. Then the author will explore the strengths and weaknesses of the missionaries interpretation and introduction of Chinese Daoist ideas.
Daoist culture, Daoism, missionaries, China studies
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