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The question of Hu / Jonathan D. Spence

Main Author Spence, Jonathan D., 1936- Country Estados Unidos. Publication New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1988 Description XVIII, 187 p. ; 22 cm ISBN 0-394-57190-8 CDU 929 HU 929 FOUCQUET 23/28(510) 271.5(510)
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Holdings
Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode Item holds
Monografia Biblioteca Fernão Mendes Pinto
BFMP 929 HU - S Não requisitável | Not for loan 459627
Total holds: 0

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

This lively and elegant book by the acclaimed historian Jonathan D. Spence reconstructs an extraordinary episode in the early intercourse between Europe and China. It is the story of John Hu, a lowly but devout Chinese Catholic who in 1722 accompanied a Jesuit missionary on a journey to France -- a journey that ended with Hu's confinement in a lunatic asylum. At once a triumph of historical detective work and a gripping narrative, The Question of Hu deftly probes the collision of two cultures, with their different definitions of faith, madness, and moral obligation. Book jacket.

Table of contents provided by Syndetics

  • Acknowledgments (p. xi)
  • Preface (p. xvii)
  • 1. The Question (p. 3)
  • 2. Departure (p. 5)
  • 3. The Ocean Voyage (p. 29)
  • 4. Landfall (p. 44)
  • 5. In the Provinces (p. 56)
  • 6. Paris (p. 70)
  • 7. Orleans (p. 88)
  • 8. The Road to Charenton (p. 95)
  • 9. Inside Charenton (p. 105)
  • 10. Release (p. 119)
  • 11. Return (p. 133)
  • Notes (p. 135)
  • Bibliography (p. 173)
  • Index (p. 181)

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

To French Jesuit Jean-Francois Foucquet, John Hua Chinese widower from Canton and a convert to Catholicismseemed like the perfect choice to serve as the missionary's translator and assistant. So Foucquet took Hu back to Paris with him in 1722, but Hu acted bizarrely on the overseas crossing and was confined for two years in the lunatic asylum of Charenton. In this slim travelogue, historian Spence ( The Gate of Heavenly Peace ) narrates their tragic tale in the form of an imaginary log, reconstructed from French, British and Vatican archives. Hu's behavior was clearly irrational: he wielded a knife, made strange proclamations, slept outdoors. But was he insane, and if so, did his journey to the West somehow trigger the reaction? Father Doucquet acted badly (he ditched Hu, who became an embarrassment to him), but to what extent was the Jesuit responsible for Hu's fate? The available evidence can't answer these questions, and we are left with a fragmentary puzzle. Reader's Subscription Book Club selection. (October) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

The Hu in question is John, an eighteenth- century Cantonese convert to Catholicism who accompanied a Jesuit scholar on his return to Paris. Employing a minimalist style, the author, chair of Yale's history department, tells an overtly simple story of a stranger in a strange land. Spence rarely interprets events; instead, he concentrates on quotidian detail. A quarter of the way through this slim book, the reader might say the real question is not Hu, but ``Why?'' The answer is that Spence has crafted a fine piece of historical research about an exceedingly obscure but interesting man into an unsettling, literary tale of ambiguity, cultural disorientation, and daily life. To be indexed. TG.

Kirkus Book Review

Brilliant reconstructive history of the enigmatic relationship between an 18th-century French missionary and a Chinese convert; by the masterful Yale historian Spence (The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Emperor of China). In 1721, Jean-Francois Foucquet, a Jesuit priest and classical Chinese scholar, set sail from Canton to Europe with 4,000 ancient Chinese texts and a 40-year-old amateur copyist christened ""John"" Hu. Obsessive, paranoid, visionary, Foucquet's plan was to win favor with Pope Innocent XIII both by proving through textual explication that China's religious roots were in fact Christian and by establishing a rare library of Chinese classics in France. Hu was his own visionary--a lowly catechist in the Canton mission whose pious dream was to see Europe and meet the Pontiff. But their exotic mission was a boondoggle. On the voyage west, Hu fell ill, then mad, refusing his contractual obligations to copy texts, claiming his mother had died and pleading with Foucquet to let him traverse Europe by foot as a beggar. For his mysterious insubordination, Hu was alternately shunned, beaten, refused payment, and finally committed to an asylum at Charenton; the cunning priest, meanwhile, was made bishop and achieved his papal audience. In 1726, Hu, broken and deranged, returned to Canton, a historical footnote elevated by Spence to saintly status by his carefully measured and indicting reconstruction of the story's surviving fragments: Foucquet's written ""defense"" of his treatment of Hu, official Jesuit correspondence about the matter, and a single surviving letter from Hu. By turns thrilling, surreal, and frustratingly incomplete, Spence's carefully crafted narrative is a historial cliffhanger with a profound moral subtext. An ingenious work of scholarship. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Jonathan D. Spence was born in Surrey, England on August 11, 1936. He received a B.A. in history from Clare College, Cambridge University and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He was Sterling Professor of History at Yale University from 1993 to 2008. As a historian specializing in Chinese history, he wrote several books including The Search for Modern China, The Death of Woman Wang, and The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci. The Gate of Heavenly Peace won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Henry D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy-Institute of Arts and Letters.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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