An elegantly written history and biography of one man's determination to bring his religion to China and its Emperor.
Matteo Ricci was a Jesuit who was sent as the order's first missionary to China in 1582. Although he spent nearly thirty years in China and died in Beijing in 1610, Ricci had only very limited success in persuading the Chinese of the truths of Christianity. However, in addition to his bible, Ricci also carried with him much of the accumulated scientific and mathematical knowledge of late Renaissance Europe. To this the mandarin classes were much more receptive. Ricci learnt Chinese in order to be able better to discuss religious and scientific issues with the intellectuals of the country; he wrote books in Chinese; he even began to dress like one of the mandarins. Vincent Cronin's book is both a superbly written biography of a remarkable man and a fascinating account of the first fully documented encounter between the two very different cultures of East and West.