Angelo Zottoli’s Cursus litteraturæ sinicæ as propaedeutic to Chinese classical tradition

Nicholas M WILLIAMS*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most impressive landmarks in Western Sinology must be the Cursus litteraturæ sinicæ by Italian Jesuit Angelo Zottoli (1826–1902). This four-thousand page work, presented as a Latin introduction to the written Chinese language, is actually a synoptic guide to the Chinese tradition, encompassing a vast range of texts from the Shijing (Book of Songs) to Qing-era examination essays, poetry, and letters. The Cursus was regarded even in its own time as an overly demanding text for beginners, but it remains a useful model for thinking abouthowscholars of premodern China should approach the linguistic and rhetorical features of texts. Though specialized study is essential, an appreciation of premodern China also demands comprehensive perspective. Conscious reflection on the Cursus and its potential may thus help to clarify some of the challenges faced by Sinology in the 21st century.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-359
Number of pages33
JournalMonumenta Serica: Journal of Oriental Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

User-Defined Keywords

  • Angelo Zottoli
  • Examination essays
  • History of Sinology
  • Translation of Chinese classics
  • Zikawei mission


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