THE SOUL OF CHINA by Amaury de Riencourt


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The author of The Coming Caesars pleads here for a philosophy of history, a synthesis of Western thought, through which the historic failure of the West in the Orient can be mitigated. He attributes the Western failure in the massive sub-continent to a misconception of Asian civilization from the time of the Christian missionary expansion which, imbued with Roman technique, attempted to deal with the Asiatic as Rome had dealt with the Barbaric Celtic and Germanic tribes. What was rejected, therefore, by the Orientals was the residue of Roman civilization rather than a religious creed. The book is divided into four parts- The Making of China, China and Asia, China and Europe, and China and the World. But Riencourt spends more time in explaining the two extremes of Chinese history -- the development of Chinese culture prior to the Christian era and the impact of the West on China during the past 100 years. Because China's situation is not that of ""arrested growth but of terminated growth"" and because the historic cycle there had completed its course, the introduction of Marxism to China through Russia's brilliant foreign policy was a reactionary substitute for ancient Confucianism. With the conclusion that any new creed in China had to be anti-Western and with the prediction that ""the biological vitality which is part and parcel of Chinese Communism... is bound to favor expansion"", Riencourt closes this excellent, depressing but not hopeless, study. The book is far more inclusive, (not massive) and penetrating than last year's 600 Million Chinese.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1958
Publisher: Coward-McCann