2013/2014 School of Chinese Staff Seminar
Some Observations on the Translation of Mencius of François Noël, SJ (1651-1729)
黃正謙博士Wong Ching Him Felix
Date and Time: May 2, 2014 (Friday); 5:30pm-6:45pm
Venue: Room 730, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU
Language: English and Putonghua
本 講旨在從數方面討論比利時耶穌會士衛方濟(1651-1729)的《孟子》譯本。此譯本自1711年出版後一直不獲學界重視，但實為《孟子》第一部西文全 譯本，在中西文化交流史上佔重要地位。法國漢學家雷慕沙(1788-1832)於十九世紀嚴厲批評衛方濟的譯作。當代學者雖竭力翻案，但未曾裒集文例，以 作一專題研究。本演講將簡單比較衛方濟《孟子》譯本的手稿及印本之不同。衛方濟譯本將經典的正文與注釋混同，備受攻訐。然而，十七世紀的耶穌會士根本無法 分別譯出正文與注釋，是以衛方濟必須選擇性譯出注解，並附上自己的詮釋，使西方知識分子容易讀懂。同樣，衛氏譯文充滿冗長的改寫，其實是早期近代歐洲所流 行「文化翻譯」的結果，以「歸化」為指導原則。他曾於同一段文字並引朱熹(1130-1200)及張居正(1525-1582)的注解，且將相關內容編排 得更具條理。學者們曾提出《孟子》某些觀點與西方天主教教會思想並不相容，故其於歐洲出版，較《四書》中其餘三書為遲。講者認為，此論雖不無道理，但非影 響當時耶穌會士決定的主因。尚值得留意者，衛方濟甚少在翻譯中扭曲《孟子》原意，以求合於西方宗教。此外，為融合孟子與基督教哲學，衛氏於翻譯《孟子》的 核心概念時尤其謹慎。
This talk aims to discuss numerous aspects of the translation of Mencius provided by the Belgian Jesuit François Noël (1651-1729). Notwithstanding the fact that very scarce attention has been received within academic circles after its publication in 1711, this version is recognizably important in the history of East-West cultural interchange and represents the earliest introduction of Mencius to the Western world. The disparaging remarks of the French Sinologist Jean Pierre Abel-Rémusat (1788-1832) against Noël’s translation in the early nineteenth century have exercised tremendous influence upon the academic community for extended periods of time. Scholars have attempted to reverse the verdict over the past few decades, yet a formal study of this work with illustrated examples is still wanting. The talk will briefly compare the manuscript and the printed versions of Noël’s Mencius, and display some conspicuous differences between the two.
It is known that Noël attracted widespread criticism for his conscious effort to intermingle the text and the commentaries. However, the Jesuits were evidently unable to take up the arduous task of translating separately theFour Books and the commentaries during the seventeenth century. It was therefore necessary for Noël to selectively add the commentaries as well as his supplementary elaboration to his work in order to render the translation more intelligible to the Western literati. By the same token, the protracted paraphrases of his translation can in fact be considered a product of cultural translation under the principle of domestication in early modern Europe. Noël has made an effort to combine the commentaries made by Zhu Xi (1130-1200) and Zhang Juzheng (1525-1582) and rearrange the content in a more organized manner.
Researchers have argued that the later publication of Mencius compared with the other three of the Four Books in Europe was because certain ideas contained in Mencius contradict the Catholic ecclesiastical views. The speaker contends this point does not constitute the most compelling reason for the Jesuits’ decision at that time, although it is not wholly unfounded. It is worth noting that Noël rarely distorts the original meanings of the words in Menciusthat are at odds with Christian doctrines in the process of translation. He has also demonstrated considerable prudence in offering equivalents to several key concepts as part of his work of harmonizing the philosophy of Mencius and Christianity.