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In Search of Wealth and Power

In Search of Wealth and Power

Yen Fu and the West

Benjamin I. Schwartz

ISBN 9780674446526

Publication date: 01/01/1964

In a serious effort to divine the secret of the West's success in achieving wealth and power, Yen Fu, a Chinese thinker, undertook, at the turn of the century, years of laborious translation and commentary on the work of such thinkers as Spencer, Huxley, Adam Smith, Mill, and Montesquieu. In addition to the inevitable difficulties involved in translating modern English into classical Chinese, Yen Fu was faced with the formidable problem of interpreting and making palatable many Western ideas which were to a large extent antithetical to traditional Chinese thought.

In an absorbing study of Yen Fu's translations, essays, and commentaries, Benjamin Schwartz examines the modifications and consequent revaluation of these familiar works as they were presented to their new audience, and analyzes the impact of this Western thought on the Chinese culture of the time. Drawing on a unique knowledge of both intellectual traditions, Schwartz describes the diverse and complex effects of this confrontation of Eastern and Western philosophies and provides a new vantage point to assess and appreciate these two disparate worlds.


  • Probably the most important cross-cultural study of ideas published in the last twenty years. It is not surprising that a brilliant and subtle scholar like Professor Schwartz should choose Yen Fu.

    —Martin Bernal, New York Review of Books


  • Benjamin I. Schwartz was Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 300 pages
  • Belknap Press

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