ABEL-RÉMUSAT, Jean-Pierre

ABEL-RÉMUSAT, Jean-Pierre. Paris 5.9.1788 — Paris 4.6.1832. French Sino­logist and Buddhist Scholar. Son of a physician. As an early accident bound him for years to bed and deprived him of one eye, he is said to have sought for compensation in studies and writing and made rapid progress. The revolution had closed schools, but his father (d. 1805) taught him Latin. As a student of medicine he saw a Chinese herbarium and decided to learn the language written on its plates. Without a teacher he learnt it on his own from Fourmont’s grammar and missionary books. His first publication in 1811 attracted attention, and he was elected in the Academies of Grenoble and Besançon. Now he became a student of Silvestre de Sacy and wrote his dissertation on Chinese medicine in 1813. During the war in 1814 he served in a Paris hospital. This assignment was arranged by Silvestre de Sacy, who also achieved a chair of Chinese founded in Collège de France in 1814.

In January 1815 A-R began his teaching as Professor of Chinese, and was also asked to catalogue the Chinese books in Royal Library. In 1816, again on recom­mendation of Silvestre de Sacy, he was elected in the A.I.B.L. From 1818 regular contributor to the JS. In 1822 founder member and first secretary of the Société Asiatique, 1823 chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and 1824 knighted (but kept it secret). In 1824 he succeeded Langlès as the conservateur-administrateur des mss. orientaux and therefore fell out with his friend and competitor Chézy. As an eager supporter of monarchy he sat in several public committees and opposed, with his friend Saint-Martin, strongly to the revolution of 1830. Nevertheless he was capable of turning his coat and preserved his position, but died suddenly in the cholera epidemy of 1832 (like Chézy).

A-R is said to have been very ambitious and a clever intriguer. Mainly a Sinologist, he was also much interested in Buddhism, and therefore important for the history of Indology, too. He discovered the famous glossary in five languages, and started the study of the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims to India translating Faxian. In a way he can be considered as the founder of the French school of Buddhist studies. Among his students were —> Biot, Jacquet, Julien, Pauthier.

Publications: Essai sur la langue et la littérature chinoises. 160 p. P. 1811; Éléments de la grammaire chinoise. 214 p. P. 1822; Mémoire sur la vie et les opinions de Lao-Tseu. P. 1823.

diss. Dissertatio de Glosso-semeiotice, sive de signis morborum quae è linguâ sumuntur, praesertim apud Sinenses. 21 p. 1813; Plan d’un dictionnaire chinois. 88 p. 1814; Programme du cours de langue et de littérature chinoises et de tartare-mandchou. 32 p. 1815; Mémoire sur les livres chinois de la Bibliothèque du roi. Annales encyclopédiques 1817 & sep. 1818.

transl. from Chinese and Manju: Le livre des récompenses et des peines. 1816; L’invariable milieu, ouvrage moral de Tsèu-ssê, en chinois et en mandchou, avec un version littéral latine, trad. français et notes. 1817; Yu-kiao-li, ou les deux cousins, roman chinois. 1-4. P. 1826 (English transl. L. 1827; German St. 1827).

articles in the Biogr. Univ.: Fourmont, Gaubil, Khang-hi, Khian-Loung, Meng-Tseu; articles in the Moniteur, JS, JA, Les mines de l’Orient, etc.

– “Fan, Sifan, Man, Meng, Han tsi yao, ou Recueil nécessaire des mots Sanskrits, Tangutains, Mandchous, Mongols et Chinois”, Les mines de l’Orient 4, 1814, 183–201; Recherches sur les langues tartares, ou mémoire sur differents points de la grammaire et de la littérature des Mandchous, des Mongols, des Ouigours et des Tibétains. I. 1820; Histoire de la ville de Khotan tirée des annales de la Chine. 240 p. P. 1823; Aperçu d’un mémoire intitulé: Recherches chronologiques sur l’origine de la hiérarchie lamaïque. 1824; Mémoire sur plusieurs questions relatives à la géographie de l’Asie centrale. 1825; “Remarques sur l’extension de l’empire chinois du côté de l’occident”, MAIBL 8, 1827, 60-130; “Observations sur trois Mémoire de M. Deguignes insérés dans le tome XL de la Collection de l’Acad. des Inscr. et Belles-lettres, et relatifs à la religion samanéenne”, JA 2:7, 1831, 303.; Mémoire sur les relations politiques des princes chrétiens, et particulièrement des rois de France, avec les empereurs mongols. 1-2. 1824 (MAIBL 6, 1822, 396-469).

Review of Humboldt’s Gerunds, JA 5, 1824, 51-61; of Haughton’s Manu, JS 1826, 586-596.

Foë-kouë-ki ou Relation des Royaumes bouddhiques, par Chi-fa-hian. Trad. par A.-R., revu & complété par Klaproth & Landresse. 1837.

article collections: Mélanges Asiatiques. 1-2. 456+428 p. P. 1825; Nouveaux mélanges asiatiques. 1-2. 446+428 p. P. 1828; Mélanges posthumes d’histoire et de littérature orientales. P. 1843 (incl. “Observations sur les sectes religieuses des hindous”, 132-159).

Sources: A—t & C.M.P., Biogr. Univ. 78, 1846, 443-450; *Landresse, JA 2:14, 1834, 205-231 & 296-316; *Silvestre de Sacy, M.A.I.B.L. 12:1, 1839, 375-400, with a bibliography; H. Thiers, Nouv. Biogr. Gen. 41, 1852, 968-976; *Wikipedia.

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