It is unclear how the West could simultaneously havernignored Asia and studied it in minute detail with an eve torndominating it, but to our current generation of “educators” itrndoes not matter: in the pseudoreligious, psvchotherapeuticrnatmosphere of contemporary educational theory, both of thesernclaims are legitimate and useful because thev expose our guilt,rnwhich can only be exjjiated bv means of nev’ curricula. And vetrnthe fact is that both these claims are demonstrably false: thernfirst is obviously bogus, but the second, because it is morernintellectually sophisticated, requires subtler analysis.rnThe history of Ejurope’s interest in Asia is being s’stematicallyrndocumented in one of the most ambitious scholarlyrnprojects of our time. Asia in the Making ofV.urope by Donald F.rnLach and Edwin J. 4in Kiev (Uni ersity of Chicago Press). Thisrnmultivolume, cncvclopedic work began in 1965, and afterrnreaching eight volumes in 1993 is still not completed. Lach intendsrnto carry the story through the 18th century; Ra’mondrnSchwab terminates his massive one-volume survey, I’he OrientalrnRenaissance, one century later in 1880, and includes therngrowing fascination of Americans with Asia during that periodrn(original French edition published in 1950, English translationrnin 1984). Anyone consulting either of these sources mustrnemerge persuaded that at least since the 16th century, thernWest, far from ignoring Asia, vas virtually obsessed with it.rnIn 1809, when William Blake exhibited a number of hisrndrawings and paintings at 28 Broad Street, Golden Square, hernincluded a picture, now lost, entitled “The Brahmins,” andrndescribed by him in the “Descriptive Catalogue,” which wasrndistributed free of charge to all visitors, in these terms:rnThe subject is, Mr. Wilkin sic translating the Geeta; anrnideal design, suggested by the first publication of thatrnpart of the Hindoo Scriptures translated by Mr. Wilkin.rnThe “Wilkin” of Blake’s lost drawing v’as in fact Sir CharlesrnWilkins (1749?-1836), one of the pioneering Western studentsrnof India’s ancient classical language, Sanskrit. Wilkins alsornstudied Persian and various Indian vernacular languages.rnWhile in India, as a writer for the Fast India Compan, herncofounded the Asiatic Soeict}’ of Bengal with the even more famousrnSir William Jones (1746-94), the finst scholar to suggest arnrelationship between Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, an hypothesisrnwhich la the groundwork for the whole enterprise of modernrnlinguistics. Wilkins’ unprecedented translation of the Bhagavadgitarnwas publislied in London in 1785; a Mench translationrnfrom Wilkins’ English appeared just two years later. Inrn1793, Wilkins published “The Storv of Sakuntala,” which likernthe Gita was an excerpt from the great Indian epic, the Mahabhamta,rnand which formed the basis for the play by Kalidasa, India’srngreatest dramatist. Wilkins and Jones were not alone inrnintroducing Indian civilization to Europe; in 1790 the CroatianrnFilip V’ezdin published m Rome the first comprehensive grammarrnof the Sanskrit language, as recently shown by BrankornFranolic in an important study. The labors of such scholars asrnWilkins, Jones, and Vezdin made possible the establishment ofrnsystematic linguistics in the 19th century, especially in Germany,rnwhere the great Max Miiller (1823-1900) issued hisrnsix-volume translation with commentary of the Rig-Veda,rnIndia’s most ancient and important scripture, during the yearsrn1849-73, and edited the monumental Sacred Books of the Eastrnfrom 1875 to 1900. This series, one of the great achievementsrnin the history of Western scholarship, spread knowledge of thernclassics of ancient Persia, India, and China not onh- throughoutrnthe learned wodd but to con.sidcrable segments of the broadrnreading public.rnThe books produced by the scholars inspired popular writersrnas well, and in America none other than John Grcenleaf Whittierrn(1807-92) provided his innumerable readers with what herncalled “Oriental Maxims,” or “Paraphrase [s] of Sanscrit Translations.”rnOne of these, “Laying Up Treasure (from the Mahahharata),”rnshows how Whittier saw a common moral codernundedving the wisdom of the East and West, a telling contrastrnto our current “multieulturalists” who take delight in pointingrnout the differences which thev believe enjoin upon us a “tolerance”rnfor moral relativism:rnBefore the Ender comes, whose charioteerrnIs swift or slow Disease, lay up each yearrnThy harvests of well-doing, wealth that kingsrnNor thieves can take awa. When all the thingsrnThou callest thine, goods, pleasures, honors fall.rnThou in th’ virtue shalt survive them all.rnBut Western interest in the East did not mysteriously appearrne.v nihilo. Ancient Greek travel-writers such as Mcgasthenes,rnvho is reported to have visited India from 302 to 288 B.C., werernalready discussing the doctrines of Indian “gymnosophists,”rnfinding parallels between their thought and that of Pvthagorasrn(and thereby establishing the mainstream emphasis on similaritiesrnrather than the differences which so exercise our ownrn”multieulturalists”). It was Mcgasthenes who provided the geographerrnStrabo with much of his material on India. Writing inrn1883, E.II. Bunbury, in his superb History of Ancient Geography,rnobserves that “it is interesting to compare the notices thatrnhave been thus preserved to us, with the full knowledge that wernnow possess of the philoso])hical and religious systems of thernI lindoos I note that Bunbur) is alrcadv able, in 1883, to speak ofrn’full knowledge’]; and it must be admitted that considering therndifficulties under which the Greeks must have labored inrnobtaining such knowledge, their information is singuladrncorrect.” Thus, already in clas.sical antiquity, the West wasrngathering essentially accurate information about the East.rnThe great expansion of Western knowledge of Asia, however,rnmust be credited to the Jesuit missionaries who undertookrntheir heroic journeys to India, China, and Japan in the 16thrnthrough the 18th centuries. These men truly deserve the appellationrn”Generation of Giants,” conferred upon them byrnGeorge Dunne in his excellent 1962 book of that name.rnDunne and D.E. Mungcllo, in Curious Land: Jesuit Accommodationrnand the Origins of Sinology (1989), full- document thernLIcrculean labors of such men as Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) inrnmastering both vernacular and classical Chinese, and in thoroughlyrnimmersing themscKcs in the Chinese Confucian classicsrnand Buddhist scriptures to the level where thc’ could debaternConfucian scholars and Buddhist monks on points ofrnabstruse doctrine in Chinese. It was the Jesuits, long beforernWilkins and Jones, who provided Europe with the hrst translationsrn(into Latin, and then from Latin into the various Europeanrnvernaculars) of the Confucian classics which were to playrnsuch a crucial role in the thought of Leibniz, Voltaire et al. lbrnmention only what was probablv the single most influentialrnsuch book, in 1687, Philippe Couplet, S.J. (1622-93) and ProsperornIntorcetta (1625-96) cocdited and translated Confuciusrn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn