Observational Fortunes

in Sojourners in a Strange Land

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226355597
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226355610 | DOI:
Observational Fortunes

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With Thomas Gouye's publication of their scientific labors, China Jesuits finally achieved a textual presence appropriate to the academic persona they sought to embody. After returning to France in 1692 as procurator for the China mission, Louis Lecomte—one of the original mathématiciens du roi—presented the Académie des sciences with more astronomical observations, a map of Tartary, drawings of plants and fish, and accounts of the Jesuits' journeys, among other items. New recruits for the French Jesuit mission departed in great numbers in the late 1690s. Charles Le Gobien told Leibniz in 1698 that the Jesuit procurator at Paris for the missions, Antoine Verjus, had sent eighteen missionaries to China by various routes. This chapter takes up the later fortunes of Jesuit academicians, the limits of generic innovation for bending institutional boundaries, and the legacy of the academic collection in enabling Jesuit participation in European academic cultures from the other side of the early modern globe.

Keywords: Thomas Gouye; Jesuits; China; France; Louis Lecomte; Jesuit mission; Académie des sciences; academicians; academic collection; missionaries

Chapter.  8198 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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