Joseph De Guignes - Encyclopedia




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JOSEPH DE GUIGNES (1721-1800), French orientalist, was born at Pontoise on the ,9th of October 1721. He succeeded Fourmont at the Royal Library as secretary interpreter of the Eastern languages. A Memoire historique sur l'origine des Huns et des Turcs, published by de Guignes in 1748, obtained his admission to the Royal Society of London in 1752, and he became an associate of the French Academy of Inscriptions in 1 754. Two years later he began to publish his learned and laborious Histoire generale des Huns, des Mongoles, des Turcs et des autres Tartares occidentaux (1756-1758); and in 1757 he was appointed to the chair of Syriac at the College de France. He maintained that the Chinese nation had originated in Egyptian colonization, an opinion to which, in spite of every argument, he obstinately clung. He died in Paris in 1800. The Histoire had been translated into German by Da,hnert ,(1768-1771). De Guignes left a son, Christian Louis Joseph '(1759-1845), who, after learning Chinese from his father, went as consul to Canton, where he spent seventeen years. On his return to France he was charged by the government with the work of preparing a Chinese-French-Latin dictionary (1813). He was also the author of a work of travels (Voyages d Pekin, Manille, et file de France, 1808).

See Querard, La France litteraire, where a list of the memoirs .contributed by de Guignes to the Journal des savants is given.

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