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Richard Wilhelm

(1873 - 1930)

Richard Wilhelm (1873–1930) was a German sinologist, theologian, and missionary who is best known for his translations of key Chinese texts into German, including, most notably, the "I Ching" or "Book of Changes." His work facilitated the introduction of Chinese philosophy, literature, and culture to the Western world, and he stands as one of the most influential European interpreters of China's intellectual and spiritual heritage.

Wilhelm moved to China in 1899 as a missionary, but his focus soon shifted to the study of Chinese language and culture. He spent several years engaging deeply with Chinese scholars, aiming to bridge the East and West through mutual understanding. Wilhelm's translation of the "I Ching" became the standard for both scholars and the general public, and his version was later translated into English by Cary F. Baynes, further expanding its global reach.

His contributions didn't stop there; Wilhelm also translated "The Secret of the Golden Flower," a text on Chinese meditation, and "The Soul of China," an insightful commentary on Chinese history and culture. He established the first chair of Chinese Studies at Frankfurt University and founded the China Institute there, which was dedicated to promoting cultural exchange.

Wilhelm's unique approach to translation involved capturing the spiritual essence of the texts rather than providing literal renditions, thus allowing Western readers to grasp the profound philosophies underlying Chinese literature. His relationship with the famous psychologist Carl Jung, who wrote forward to several of his works, also helped to intertwine Eastern philosophy with emerging Western ideas in psychology.

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