Lecture: The Imaginative Melancholy of Matteo Ricci



Lecture: The Imaginative Melancholy of Matteo Ricci on 18th January 2017.

Date & Time
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Macau Ricci Institute, Av. Cons. Ferreira de Almeida, No. 95-E 澳門利氏學社 澳門荷蘭園大馬路95號E


To reserve your seat, please send an e-mail to: forums@riccimac.org or call (853) 2853 2536
*Due to limited space interested persons should reserve their seat on a “first come, first served” basis BEFORE January 16.


About the talk
The talk investigates Matteo Ricci’s contribution to the intellectual history of melancholy. This specific rhetorical edge is still rather unexplored, and is potentially able to add meaningful insights to the interpretation of Ricci, who referred to himself as a melancholic missionary. The dream that anticipated the success of Ricci’s ascent to Beijing took place under a melancholic spell. Quite remarkably, Ricci describes melancholy as something good, while Christian teaching rejects melancholy as a spiritual malady. For Dante Alighieri melancholy was also quite undesirable, as it was an omen of despair and death.

The term melancholy comes from ancient Greek medicine, and holds a negative meaning. Aristotle, however, links melancholy to genius. Similarly, Renaissance associates melancholy to the artists’ power of imagination. The same Matteo Ricci associates melancholy with dreams and imagination. Imagination was a fundamental trait in Jesuit contemplative exercise of ‘composition of place’. Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), the modern Magna Charta of melancholy, often cites Matteo Ricci.


About the speaker
Gianni Criveller is a member of the Macau Ricci Institute, a Fellow Researcher at The Chinese University of Hong Kong and a professor in Hong Kong and Milan. He specializes on the encounter between China and Christianity, with particular attention to Jesuit mission and strategies, missionary work and strategies and the Chinese Rites Controversy. Author of numerous studies on Greater China mission, among his recent publications are: (in collaboration) 500 Hundred Years of Italians in Hong Kong and Macau (Hong Kong, 2013); La malinconia immaginativa di Matteo Ricci (Milano, 2016).


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