NEUMANN, Karl Friedrich (originally Bamberger). Reichmannsdorf near Bamberg 28.12.1793 (?) — Berlin 17.3. or 28.3.1870. German Oriental Scholar and Historian. Professor in Munich. Son of a poor Jewish merchant, worked himself in the shop. Date of birth is his own statement, which has been deemed suspicious. After school in Frankfurt studied at Heidelberg, Munich and Göttingen (Heeren), in 1818 adopted Christianity. Worked as schoolteacher in 1819-21 in Göttingen and in 1821-25 in Würzburg and Speyer, but was dismissed because of his rational Bible interpretation. Now in 1827-28studied Armenian in the Mekhitarist monastery in Venice, then 1828-29also other Oriental languages in Paris (mainly Chinese under Abel-Rémusat), alsovisited London. He made a journey to China 1830-31 obtaining a great collection of books, then divided between the libraries of Berlin and Munich. From 1833 Professor der Armenischen und Chinesischen Sprache und der Länder- und Völkerkunde at Munich (ao. in March, ord. in December), but in 1852 was dismissed as a liberal. Now living as a free author and in 1863 moved to Berlin. An apoplexy ended his work in 1867. Married 1837 Caroline Schmidtmüller, three daughters and one son.
Neumann was a late example of general Orientalist who tried to include the whole of Asia in his scholarship, thus occasionally also India (he knew some Sanskrit), but especially Armenian and Chinese.
Publications: Review of Mannert’s Geographie von Indien. 1829, Jb. f. wiss. Kritik 1830, 445-451.
– Translations from the Chinese and Armenian. I. History of the Pirates who infested China Sea from 1807 to 1810. II. The Catechism of the Shamans, or the laws and regulations of the Priesthood of Buddha in China. 228+152 p. L. 1831.
– Pilgerfahrten Buddhistischer Priester aus China nach Indien. 1. 66 p. Lp. 1833; review of Abel-Rémusat’s Foë-kouë-ki par Fa-hian. 1836, ZKM 3, 1840, 105-151.
– “Civilisation indienne, pars de ‘coup d’œil historique’”, JA 2:14, 1834, 81-114 (on religion)
– Versuch einer Geschichte der armenischen Literatur. Lp. 1836.
– In 1852 wrote on Afghans and Sikhs in Raumer’s Hist. Almanach.
– Geschichte des englischen Reichs in Asien. 1-2. 12+653+739 p. Lp. 1857.
– Geschichte der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. 1-3. B. 1863-66.
– Further works esp. on Armenian and Chinese literature.
Sources: Heyne, Datenbuch; JRAS Proc. 1870, vi-ix; H. Dickerhof, N.D.B. 19, 1999, 147f. (and in *Hist. Jb. 97/98, 1978, 289-335); Jolly, A.D.B. 23, 1886, 529f.; *H. Rall, “K. F. N., Sinologe u. Universalhistoriker” Archival. Zeitschrift 75, 1980, 194-210; G. Reismüller, Festschrift E. Kuhn 1916, 437-456 (on his studies and visit to China, with picture); *H. Walravens, Karl Friedrich Neumann (1793–1870) und Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff (1803–1851). Zwei deutsche Chinakundige im 19. Jahrhundert. 190 p. Wb. 2001; Wikipedia with photo (more in German version).