The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci

Old painting of Matteo Ricci with unusual hat and long gray beard and moustache.
Wished for The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci by Jonathan D. SpenceJonathan D. Spence (
In 1577, the Jesuit Priest Matteo Ricci set out from Italy to bring Christian faith and Western thought to Ming dynasty China. To capture the complex emotional and religious drama of Ricci's extraordinary life, Jonathan Spence relates his subject's experiences with several images that Ricci himself created—four images derived from the events in the Bible and others from a book on the art of memory that Ricci wrote in Chinese and circulated among members of the Ming dynasty elite. A rich and compelling narrative about a fascinating life, The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci is also a significant work of global history, juxtaposing the world of Counter-Reformation Europe with that of Ming China.

Something I’ve been meaning to buy and read for a while.

3 thoughts on “The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci”

  1. If you’re mainly interested in the history of memory techniques, be warned: there is far less of that that you might expect. [It’s still good if you’re interested in the Jesuits, European-Chinese relations, etc]

    1. Thanks Daniel. After being disappointed by Frances Yates’ The Art of Memory, which seemed to have no working grasp of memory techniques at all, my hopes for this aren’t very high at all. I am, however interested in some of the tangential history which you mentioned, so it won’t be a complete loss.


  • Chris Aldrich

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