On Friendship

On Friendship: One Hundred Maxims for a Chinese Prince

Matteo Ricci
Translated by TIMOTHY BILLINGS
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/ricc14924
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    On Friendship
    Book Description:

    "On Friendship, with its total of one hundred sayings, is the perfect gift for friends."-Feng Yingjing, renowned scholar and civic official, 1601

    Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) is best known as the Italian Jesuit missionary who brought Christianity to China. He also published a landmark text on friendship-the first book to be written in Chinese by a European-that instantly became a late Ming best seller.

    On Friendshipdistilled the best ideas on friendship from Renaissance Latin texts into one hundred pure and provocative Chinese maxims. Written in a masterful classical style, Ricci's sayings established his reputation as a great sage and the sentiments still ring true.

    Available for the first time in English,On Friendshipmatches a carefully edited Chinese text with a facing-page English translation and includes notes on sources and biographical, historical, and cultural information. Still admired in China for its sophistication and inspirational wisdom,On Friendshipis a delightful cross-cultural work by a crucial and fascinating historical figure. It is also an excellent tool for learning Chinese, pairing a superb model of the classical language with an accessible and accurate translation.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52028-7
    Subjects: Philosophy, History, Religion, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-83)

    In 1595, when an upstart player named William Shakespeare was writing a fantastical comedy in English verse calledA Midsummer Night’s Dreamfor the London stage, on the opposite side of the globe, in the southern Chinese city of Nanchang 南昌, an equally remarkable man named Matteo Ricci was composing an essay on friendship in the formal diction of classical Chinese. Ricci called his essay simplyYou lun友論 (Essay on Friends), a title that would later be changed under the influence of one of Ricci’s many Chinese friends to the more resonantJiaoyou lun交友論 (Essay on Friendship), the...

  5. An Essay on Friendship in Answer to Prince Jian’an (Lord Qian Zhai)
    (pp. 87-138)
    Li Madou

    I, Matteo, from the Far West, have sailed across the seas and entered China with respect for the learned virtue of the Son of Heaven of the Great Ming dynasty as well as for the teachings bequeathed by the ancient kings. Since the time that I elected the place of my lodging in Lingbiao, the stars and frosts have changed several times. In the spring of this year, I crossed the mountains, sailed down the river, and arrived in Jinling, where I beheld the glory of the capital of the kingdom, which filled me with happiness, and I thought that...

  6. Chronology of Editions
    (pp. 139-142)

    This chronology includes only the early editions with textual authority.¹ See also “Texts and Variants.”

    Composition,Nanchang 南昌, 1595, winter. While living in Nanchang, Ricci composed the essay with a short introduction and seventy-six maxims.² He presented copies not only to the prince, Jian’an Wang 建安王, but also to many others, who were eager to transcribe it. The BL manuscript appears to represent this stage of the text.

    First edition,Ningdu 甯都, 1596. The first edition (now apparently lost) was printed very soon after the essay’s composition without Ricci’s knowledge, probably in Ningdu (Jiangxi Province), by Su Tizhai 蘇體齋 (fl....

  7. Texts and Variants
    (pp. 143-156)
  8. Sources and Notes
    (pp. 157-166)
  9. Index
    (pp. 167-173)