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Matteo Ricci’s Italian Work : Anatomy of a Chinese Encounter

Thesis

French

ID: <10670/1.zuqfto>

Abstract

This thesis aims at studying the question of the encounter in Matteo Ricci’s Italian work, starting from a biographical reading of Lettere and of Della entrata della Compagnia di Giesù e Christianità nella Cina.This study supplements the figure of the Sino-Christian writer with that of Matteo Ricci as the author of an Italian work that is worthy of interest both from the point of view of civilisation and of literature. My approach relies on a reading of his writings as an anatomy of his encounter with the Celestial Empire and as a biography of a literary travel, the set of texts being apprehended as a literary phenomenology of the encounter.Reflecting on the concept of alterity allows one to analyse Ricci’s texts as the biography of a particular look on China and Chinese people — a vision which, from a Humanist and Christian interpretation, promotes the tangible encounter with a distant Other, born by desire. Throughout his missionary and literary work, Matteo Ricci constructs a new hermeneutics of the Chinese world that breaks away from the imagology produced by medieval Europe.The final section of the analysis envisages Ricci’s writing as the biography of a discourse, as putting forward a religious interpretation and an aesthetics of the encounter. Being faithful to the Christian tradition, he however redefines the relationships between the Western world and pagan otherness by promoting a new language — inculturation. From a literary point of view, his writing proposes a singular stylistic approach, one that mingles aesthetic diversity and historiography which gestures towards the epic and Christian apologetics.

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