The greatest western sinologist of the 18th century
Histoire de Gentchiscan
et de toute la dinastie des Mongous ses successeurs, conquérans de la Chine; tirée de l'histoire chinoise, et traduite par le R.P. Gaubil Paris chez Briasson et Piget 1739
First edition, 4to, 26 x 20 cm., pp.[viii], 317, [2, approbation et privilege du Roy; 1, blank]. A very good copy bound in contemporary full calf, professionally re-backed preserving original spine. Some scuffing to boards. Gilt decoration on spine a little rubbed. Armorial bookplate of Harry Lancelot Lee Esq. (1759-1821) who built Coton Hall in Shropshire in 1800 and was from the English branch of the family whose American branch included Robert E. Lee.
Atabey 480; Cordier BS 2767; De Backer & Sommervogel III, 1258-59; Lowendahl 411.
Antoine Gaubil (1689-1759), Jesuit father, eminent mathematician, astronomer and historian, entered the Society of Jesus at the age of fifteen. He was sent to China in 1722. Arriving in Canton, he immediately began studying Chinese and Manchu, rapidly becoming so proficient in both that he was appointed official interpreter to the Imperial Court. In 1723 he moved to the French residence in Peking where he spent the rest of his life. He was Supérieur from 1742 to 1748. A prolific writer and translator, he was considered the most competent astronomer and historian of his generation. "le plus grand sinologue européen du XVIIIe siècle, la meilleure tête parmi les jésuites français qui fondèrent alors, en Chine même, la première école occidentale d'études érudites sur la Chine," according to Paul Demiéville in his preface to Le P. Antoine Gaubil s.j., Genève, 1970, a work which includes a detailed bibliography of Gaubil's oeuvre. With this work, the first western translation of Shao Yuanping's History of the Mongol dynasty, Gaubil showed he was as good an historian as he was a scientist. He was particularly concerned to establish an accurate chronology of Chinese dynasties, a subject much disputed in Europe.