- Les Neuf Chapitres (The Nine Chapters)
In 1983, an international cooperation project to study and translate Jiu Zhang Suan Shu (The Nine Chapters on Mathematical Procedures) with annotations by Liu Hui, one of the most significant mathematical treatises in ancient China, was incorporated into a scientific cooperation agreement between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). Subsequently, Prof. Guo Shuchun from the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Prof. Karine Chemla from CNRS were designated as the project’s Principal Investigators.
Guo edited and collated the original text. Then, Chemla translated it into French. After several rounds of proofreading, Les Neuf Chapitres—Le Classique mathématique de la Chine ancienne et ses commentaires, a Chinese-French bilingual text, was completed by the 1990s and published by Dunod Press in Paris. The preface for the more than 1,100 page book was composed by Sir Geoffrey Lloyd, a famous historian of science, and the foreword was co-authored by Chemla and Guo. The book immediately attracted wide attention from the scientific community in both Europe and the United States. Within a year, it was sold out and had to be reprinted.
Prof. Karine Chemla (first from left) talking with Prof. Guo Shuchun (first from right) at the Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, CAS in 1983.
On July 30, 2005, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the French Embassy jointly held a press briefing for Les Neuf Chapitres (The Nine Chapters) in Beijing.
In June 2006, Les Neuf Chapitres was honored with Le prix Ikuo Hirayama by the Institut de France. The success of this collaboration reveals that joint endeavors between Chinese and foreign experts can yield the most accurate and efficient translations of ancient Chinese classics, and provide an excellent paradigm for further work.
Reprinted from: CAS International Talents