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 tw ocultures, with their different definitions of faith, madness, and moral obligation.
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Jonathan Spence's eleven books on Chinese history include The Gate of Heavenly Peace, Treason by the Book, and The Death of Woman Wang. His awards include a Guggenheim and a MacArthur Fellowship. He teaches at Yale University.From Publishers Weekly:
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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110394571908
Book Description Knopf, 1988. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0394571908