Anquetil-Duperron-Duperron, sa place et son rôle dans la Renaissance Orientale: Anquetil-Duperron (Orientalism)

To sum up briefly, Anquetil-Duperron (1731-1805) left France for India on February 7, 1755, with one aim in mind: to decipher the literary works of Zoroastrianism, the Avesta, and the Hindu Upanishads. At that time, only a few orientalist scholars had tried to unveil the mystery of oriental religions and languages. Some scholars, like Joseph de Guignes, had studied Chinese, thinking that it would lead to an understanding of the origin of languages. But none of these researches was as fruitful as Anquetil-Duperron’s discovery of the Avesta and its association with the Vedas. The history of Indo-European civilization, before Anquetil-Duperron’s research and translation, had been lost in the far distant past. The Bible does not mention India, nor did it describe the spread of ancient tribes to the East. Western knowledge accumulated throughout the centuries derived mostly from Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian, and Islamic civilizations. Unfortunately, Anquetil was later severely criticized for a number of reasons pertaining to his translation of the Avesta, primarily by the famous British oriental scholar Sir William Jones. Jones’ criticism followed the criticism of several French Encyclopedists and Voltaire himself. Alas, later on, Anquetil-Duperron came to be recognized as a renowned erudite scholar owing primarily to his Latin version of the Oupnek’hat or the Upanishads. Anquetil’s influence extended into the 19th century. Schopenhauer, for instance, was directly influenced by Anquetil’s translations, and Richard Wagner, on reading Schopenhauer, was also in a roundabout way influenced by Anquetil as well.

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