Summary of W. Michel: Wolfgang Michel: Johann Caspar Scheuchzer (1702-1729) und die Herausgabe der History of Japan. "

Wolfgang Michel: Johann Caspar Scheuchzer (1702-1729) und die Herausgabe der History of Japan. In: Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques, Vol. LXIV, 1/2010, pp. 101-137.


Johann Caspar Scheuchzer (1702-1729) und die Herausgabe der History of Japan




CoverJohann Caspar Scheuchzer's name can be found in numerous papers dealing with Engelbert Kaempfer's famous History of Japan (1727); during the past two decades in particular, his translation and editing of this book have received some harsh criticism. This study focuses on Scheuchzer the man, aiming to present a well-founded and comprehensive picture of his life and achievements. It begins with a description of his family and youth in Zurich, his emigration to England, his contribution in the field of medicine and rise to a prominent position in the European république des lettres. Following a synopsis of 17th century Western writings about Japan, Hans Sloane's acquisition of Kaempfer's manuscript Heutiges Japan and Scheuchzer's preparations for its publication are traced. Although some criticism regarding his translation of Kaempfer's text is supported, it is shown that Scheuchzer and Kaempfer do not actually differ greatly in their way of embellishing illustrations. While translating and editing Kaempfer's work, Scheuchzer not only gained extensive knowledge about contemporary research on Japan, but also wrote the first biography of the late Kaempfer and produced a lavishly illustrated, epoch-making book. Furthermore, his maps make a genuine contribution to the cartography of Japan. During the last years of his short life, Scheuchzer became by far the best-informed scholar on things Japanese and deserves a prominent place among early Western Japanologists.


Table of Contents:
  • Vorbemerkung
  • Ein kurzes Leben (A short life)
  • Mangel an aktueller Information über Japan (Lack of actual information about Japan)
  • Kaempfers Japanforschung und Nachlass (Kaempfer's research on Japan and his legacy)
  • Aufarbeitung der Japanliteratur (Scheuchzer's work an Japan related publications)
  • Scheuchzers Umgang mit Kaempfers Text (Scheuchzer's approach to Kaempfer's manuscript)
  • Bilder einer fremden Welt (Images from a strange world)
  • Scheuchzers Beitrag zur Kartographie Japans (Scheuchzer's contributions to the cartography of Japan)
  • Scheuchzers Verdienste um Kaempfers Erbe (Scheuchzer's merits in regard to Kaempfer's legacey)
  • Bibliographie
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