Julien, Stanislas

JULIEN, STANISLAS (1797?-1873), French orientalist, was born at Orleans, probably on the 13th of April 1797. Stanislas Julien, a mechanic of Orleans, had two sons, Noel, born on the 13th of April 1797, and Stanislas, born on the 20th of September 1799. It appears that the younger son died in America, and that Noel then adopted his brother's name. He studied classics at the college de France, and in 1821 was appointed assistant professor of Greek. In the same year he published an edition of the 'EXetTjs apirafri of Coluthus, with versions in French, Latin, English, German, Italian and Spanish. He attended the lectures of Abel Remusat on Chinese, and his progress was as rapid as it had been in other languages. From the first, as if by intuition, he mastered the genius of the language; and in 1824 he published a Latin translation of a part of the works of Mencius (Mang-tse), one of the nine classical books of the Chinese. Soon afterwards he translated the modern Greek odes of Kalvos under the title of La Lyre patriotique de la Grece. But such works were not profitable in a commercial sense, and, being without any patrimony, Julien was glad to accept the assistance of Sir William Drummond and others, until in 1827 he was appointed sublibrarian to the French institute. In 1 83 2 he succeeded Remusat as professor of Chinese at the college de France. In 1833 he was elected a member of the Academic des Inscriptions in the place of the orientalist, Antoine Jean Saint-Martin. For some years his studies had been directed towards the dramatic and lighter literature of the Chinese, and in rapid succession he now brought out translations of the Hoei-lan-ki(L'Histoire du cercle de craie), a drama in which occurs a scene curiously analogous to the judgment of Solomon; the Pih shay tsing ki; and the Tchao-chi kou eul, upon which Voltaire had founded his Orphelin de la Chine ( I 7SS)- With the versatility which belonged to his genius, he next turned, apparently without difficulty, to the very different style common to Taoist writings, and translated in 1835 Le Livre des recompenses et des peines of Lao-tsze. About this time the cultivation of silkworms was beginning to attract attention in France, and by order of the minister of agriculture Julien compiled, in 1837, a Resume des principaux traitfs chinois sur la culture des muriers, et I'fducation des vers-a-soie, which was speedily translated into English, German, Italian and Russian.

Nothing was more characteristic of his method of studying Chinese than his habit of collecting every peculiarity of idiom and expression which he met with in his reading; and, in order that others might reap the benefit of his experiences, he published in 1841 Discussions grammaticales sur cerlaines regies de position qui, en chinois, jouent le meme role que les inflexions dans les auires langues, which he followed in 1842 by Exercices pratiques d'analyse, de syntaxe, et de lexigraphie chinoise. Meanwhile in 1839, he had been appointed joint keeper of the Bibliotheque royale, with the especial superintendence of the Chinese books, and shortly afterwards he was made administrator of the college de France.

The facility with which he had learned Chinese, and the success which his proficiency commanded, naturally inclined less gifted scholars to resent the impatience with which he regarded their mistakes, and at different times bitter controversies arose bet ween Julien and his fellow sinologues on the one subject which they had in common. In 1842 appeared from his busy pen a translation of the Too te King, the celebrated work in which Lao-tsze attempted to explain his idea of the relation existing between the universe and something which he called Tao, and on which the religion of Taoism is based. From Taoism to Buddhism was a natural transition, and about this time Julien turned his attention to the Buddhist literature of China, and more especially to the travels of Buddhist pilgrims to India. In order that he might better understand the references to Indian institutions, and the transcriptions in Chinese of Sanskrit words and proper names, he began the study of Sanskrit, and in 1853 brought out his Voyages du pelerin Hiouen-tsang, which is regarded by some critics as his most valuable work. Six years later he published Les Avaddnas, contes et apologues Indiens inconnus jusqu'a ce jour, suivis de poesies et de nouveiles chinoises. For the benefit of future students he disclosed his system of deciphering Sanskrit words occurring in Chinese books in his Methode pour dechifrer et transcrireles noms sanserifs qui se rencontrenl dans les limes chinois (1861). This work, which contains much of interest and importance, falls short of the value which its author was accustomed to attach to it. It had escaped his observation that, since the translations of Sanskrit works into Chinese were undertaken in different parts of the empire, the same Sanskrit words were of necessity differently represented in Chinese characters in accordance with the dialectical variations. No hard and fast rule can therefore possibly be laid down for the decipherment of Chinese transcriptions of Sanskrit words, and the effect of this impossibility was felt though not recognized by Julien, who in order to make good his rule was occasionally obliged to suppose that wrong characters had by mistake been introduced into the texts. His Indian studies led to a controversy with Joseph Toussaint Reinaud, which was certainly not free from the gall of bitterness. Among the many subjects to which he turned his attention were the native industries of China, and his work on the Hisloire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise is likely to remain a standard work on the subject. In another volume he also published an account of the Industries anciennes et modernes de I'empire chinois (1869), translated from native authorities. In the intervals of more serious undertakings he translated the San tseu King (Le Lime des trois mots) ; Thsien tseu wen (Le Lime de mille mots); Les Deux cousines; Nouveiles chinoises; the Ping chan ling yen (Les Deux jeunes Jilles lettrees); and the Dialoghi Cinesi, Jitch'ang k' eou-t' eou-koa. His last work of importance was Syntaxe nouvclle de la langue chinoise (1869), in which he gave the result of his study of the language, and collected a vast array of facts and of idiomatic expressions. A more scientific arrangement and treatment of his subject would have added much to the value of this work, which, however, contains a mine of material which amply repays exploration. One great secret by which Julien acquired his grasp of Chinese, was, as we have said, his methodical collection of phrases and idiomatic expressions. Whenever in the course of his reading he met with a new phrase or expression, he entered it on a card which took its place in regular order in a long series of boxes. At his death, which took place on the 14th of February 1873, he left, it is said, 250,000 of such cards, about the fate of which, however, little seems to be known. In politics Julien was imperialist, and in 1863 he was made a commander of the legion of honour in recognition of the services he had rendered to literature during the second empire.

See notice and bibliography by Wallon, Mem. de I'Acad. des Inscr. (1884), xxxi. 409-458. (R. K. D.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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