Nineteenth century missionary-scholars at work: A critical review of English translations of the Daodejing by John Chalmers and James Legge

Man Kong Wong *

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Daodejing is an essential text in Chinese culture. The number of its English translations exceeds a total of 112 editions. The first one was produced by John Chalmers, who was a Scottish missionary from London Missionary Society stationed in Hong Kong and Canton for a long period of time. Chalmers's close missionary colleague, James Legge, who was subsequently the first Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford, produced another translation. This paper aims at revealing the socio-cultural and intellectual processes behind the making of these two translations. In so doing, it discusses the differences in the two texts and explores the reasons for their differences. Christian missionaries in China were the agents for the cultural interactions between China and the West. Not only did they bring the Christian message to China, but they also introduced the Chinese ideas through their translations and writings to their Western audience. This should be a fruitful and important topic for serious scholarship in both the studies in Sinology and in the history of translation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-149
Number of pages26
JournalMonumenta Serica
Volume63
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

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

User-Defined Keywords

  • Abel remusat
  • English translations of the daodejing
  • James Legge
  • John Chalmers
  • Stanislas Julien

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