KLAPROTH, Julius von

KLAPROTH, Heinrich Julius von. Berlin 11.10.1783 — Paris 28.8.1835. German Oriental Scholar in Russia and France. Son of the mineralogist and chemist Martin-Heinrich Kl. and Christine Sophie Lehmann (d. 1803). Gymnasium in Berlin. As a fifteen years old schoolboy he started the study of Chinese from Bayer’s book. From 1801 student at Halle, but soon moved disappointed to Dresden and then to Weimar, where he started the journal Asiatische Magazin. In 1804 a Berliner friend, Count Jean Potocki arranged him a place in St.Petersburg and in 1805 as interpreter of the Russian embassy to Peking. The grandiose enterprise proceeded as far as Urga, but broke then up in quarrels and unwillingness to comply with Chinese court formalities. Klaproth himself quitted the group and travelled on his own in Mongolian frontiers, and then to Baikal and the Altai, collecting linguistic and ethnographic material. A Japanese naval officer interned there taught him Japanese in Irkutsk. Back in St.Petersburg he became extraordinary Academician on 11.3.1807 with the title of nobility (formally deprived 1817, but he continued the use of “von”). Prompted by Potocki, he became the leader of the Academy’s expedition to Caucasia, started 15.9.1807. In want of funds he was called back by the Academy and arrived on 11.1.1809. In St.Petersburg Klaproth’s assurance and demands made him unpopular, and even his travel report remained unpublished. For a while he planned by order of Prince Czartoryski an Oriental Department for University of Vilnius, but was soon asked to catalogue Academy’s Chinese books instead. In 1811-13 briefly married, no children.

In 1810 Klaproth went to Berlin to organize Chinese printing press for the Academy. This task he carried through, but did not return to St.Petersburg. In 1814 he travelled in Italy (visiting Napoleon in Elba) and then settled in Paris, close to libraries and manuscripts. W. von Humboldt arranged for him a permanent Prussian scholarship and with this he lived the rest of his life as an active scholar in Paris. He was appreciated in Paris society, but also actively participated in academic quarrels. During his last two or three years he was often ill. He was one of the last great general Orientalists, but his speciality was Sinology. The premature death stopped many plans (e.g. Marco Polo). He knew some Sanskrit and wrote on Tibet. Revised Abel-Remusat’s posthumous translation of Faxian for publication. Apparently he was a difficult character; in his later years he lived in seclusion and had no disciples.

Publications: Asiatische Magazin. Weimar 1802-03; Archiv für Asiatische Litteratur. 1. 224 p. St.P. 1810 (with “Kaukasische Sprachen”, 9-75, and “Bemerkungen über die Chinesisch-Russische Grenze”, 159-224); Shen Yu bei zehn yi = Inschrift des Yü, übersetzt und erklärt. 49 p. B. 1811.

Reise in den Kaukasus und Georgien. 1-2. 16+740, 17+626 p. Halle & B. 1812-14, in French 1823; edited Güldenstädt’s Georgian travels. B. 1815.

Translated: Mémoires de Jean Ouosk’ Herdjan, pretre arménien. P. 1819.

Supplement au Dictionaire Chinois de P. Basile de Glemona. 10+168 p. P. 1819; Catalogue des livres et manuscrits chinois et mandchoux de la Bibliothèque de Berlin. P. 1820-23; Abhandlung über die Sprache und Schrift der Uiguren. 70 p. P. 1820.

Asia Polyglotta. 16+384 p. P. 1823 (in German); Tableaux historiques de l’Asie, depuis la monarchie de Cyrus jusqu’à nos jours. 30+289 p. P. 1824-26; Magasin asiatique, ou Revue géographique et historique de l’Asie centrale et septentrionale. 1-4. P. 1825-26-??.

Mémoires relatifs à l’histoire et à la géographie asiatiques. 1-3. 478+???+??? p. P. 1824-28.

Vocabulaire de la langue géorgienne. 1. 232 p. P. 1827 (only vocab.); Tableau historique, géographique, ethnographique et politique du Caucase. 187 p. P. 1827; edited: Vocabulaire latin, persan et coman. 144 p. P. 1828 (Codex Cumanicus).

Chrestomathie mandchoue. 12+373 p. P. 1828; Chrestomathie chinoise. 7+183+15 p. P. 1833.

Translated: Description du Tubet, par P. Hyacinthe. 280 p. P. 1831 (by I. Bičurin).

– “Breve Notizia Del regno del Tibet, dal frà Francesco Orazio della Penna de Billi, ed. avec notes par Klaproth”, JA 2:14, 1834, 177-204, 273-296, 406-432.

Examen critique des travaux de Champollion sur les hiéroglyphes. 175 p. P. 1832.

Edited: Nipon o dam its ran: ou Annales des empereurs du Japon, traduites par I. Titsingh, avec notes etc. 36+460 p. L. 1834.

Aperçu de l’origine des diverses écritures de l’ancien monde. P. 1832; Dissertation sur l’origine de la boussole. 138 p. P. 1834.

Further books, numerous articles and reviews in Fundgruben des Orients, JA, Nouv. Ann. des Voy., Asiatic Journal, etc.

Sources: *H. Cordier, “Un orientaliste allemand: Jules Klaproth”, CRAI 61, 1917, 297-308;Eyriès, B.U. Suppl.; *F. Kammerzell, Lex. gramm. 1996, 516–518; J. Klatt, A.D.B. 16, 1882, 51-60; *M. Knüppel, “Zwei Briefe J.H. (v.) Klaproths an G.H.A. Ewald aus dem Jahre 1831”, RO 71:1, 2018, 126-132; *C. Landresse, JA 16, 1835, 243-273; Larenaudière, Nouv. Ann. des Voy. 68 (3:8), 1835, 5-20; G. Naundorf, N.D.B. 11, 1977, 706f.; Wikipedia with drawing  (another and more details in German version).

*Hartmut Walravens: Julius Klaproth: (1783–1835). Leben und Werk. Wb. 1999; *Julius Klaproth: (1783–1835). Briefe und Dokumente. Wb. 1999 and *Julius Klaproth: Briefwechsel mit Gelehrten, großenteils aus dem Akademiearchiv in St. Petersburg; mit einem Namenregister zu Julius Klapproth: Briefe und Dokumente. Wb. 2002.

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