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RHODES, Alexandre de

Divers voiages du Alexandre de Rhodes En la Chine, & autres Roiaumes de l'Orient, Avec son retour en Europe par la Perse & l'Armenie

Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy, Paris, 1666
Small quarto (240 x 180 mm)., later quarter morocco, marbled paper boards with gilt ruled raised bands and double gilt panelled compartments each with ornate central gilt feature, gilt title. Title with engraved printer’s device, privilege leaf at the end, pp. (8), 342, (2). some lower margin worming professionally repaired, otherwise a good clean example.
This is an important early work on Vietnam first published in French in Rome in 1650. Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660) was a Jesuit priest who devoted most of his life to missionary work in Vietnam. He wrote the first Vietnamese catechism and had a major influence on Vietnamese writing. He was a gifted linguist who mastered Vietnamese in only six months. He went on to compile the first Portuguese-Latin-Vietnamese dictionary. He was also one of the first to attempt to Romanize the Vietnamese alphabet, in other words to write it using western characters. The present day national language of Vietnam, Quoc Ngu, is based on his original phonetic and transliteration work. As a missionary Rhodes was constantly battling with the local pagan priests, was exiled twice and nearly sentenced to death for his teachings. Rhodes claimed in his reports that he converted more than 6,000 Vietnamese. He also worked as a missionary in China, Macao and Persia, but his true love was for the Vietnamese people. This is an example of the second Paris edition. Provenance: with the bookplate of Bernard Hanotiau pasted inside upper board; this example exhibited at the Bibliotheca Wittockiana in Brussels 28 October 2009 to 10 January 2010 in a show entitled “Western Travellers in China discovering the Middle Kingdom” item no. 18. Cordier Sinica 2081.
Stock number: 9085

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