”It is a fact that cannot be contested: Buddha is a famous personage who has not been wrested from oblivion by an industrious annalist or an able antiquarian. He has not become known through an inscription or a medallion but rather through his life and morals. Removed from the altar on which blindness and superstition had placed him, Buddha is a distinguished philosopher, a sage born for the happiness of his fellow creatures and for the good of humanity. A defied man, he is the foremost of religious law-givers of eastern Asia...” -Ozeray
EXTREMELY RARE FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST WESTERN BOOK ON BUDDHISM.
“Although the Western encounter with Asia’s largest religion may be the vastest and most consequential spiritual encounter in human history, its protagonists and historical development are still barely known. Thus it comes as no surprise that even specialists have hitherto failed to appreciate the earliest Western book about Buddhism: Michel-Jean-François Ozeray’s Recherches sur Buddou ou Bouddou, instituteur religieux de l’Asie orientale (Paris, 1817)...
“... Ozeray’s book represents a landmark in the history of the Western discovery of Buddhism. Published three years after the establishment of Europe’s first academic chairs for indology and sinology and just before the organized academic study of Buddhist texts began, Ozeray’s reliance on images and reports by embassies and European residents in Asian countries rather than missionary literature marks a watershed, as does the author’s firm advocacy of a single historical founder, his unwillingness to engage in etymological and mythological flights of fancy, and his insistence on Buddhism’s status as the largest of all religions of the Orient or even of the entire world. Though the book did not reach a large pan-European readership, it was read by intellectuals interested in Buddhism such as the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Europe’s first professor of Sinology Abel-Rémusat, and the linguist Julius Klaproth. Klaproth and Abel-Rémusat were around the time of publication expressing increasing interest in Buddhism and its history. Both were involved in the birth of France’s earliest Orientalist journal, the Journal Asiatique, which from the early 1820s became one of Europe’s most important sources of information about Buddhism. Ozeray’s book thus stands near the end of the mythological speculation period and near the beginning of organized research on Asia’s greatest religion” (Urs App, The First Western Book on Buddhism and Buddha).
Paris: Chez Brunot-Labbe, 1817. Octavo, contemporary half-morocco, marbled boards and endpapers. Complete with half-title. Some scuffing to binding, small closed tear to half-title. Text in outstanding condition with large margins. SCARCE.
Price: $13,500 .