Aleksei Leontevich Leontev

Leont’ev, Aleksei Leont’evich

 

Born 1716, in Moscow; died May 12, 1786, in St. Petersburg. One of the first Russian sinologists.

Leont’ev was the son of a cleric. He graduated from the Slavic, Greek, and Latin Academy in Moscow. From 1743 to 1755 he was a probationer at the Russian church mission in Peking. Upon his return he served as a translator of Chinese and Manchurian languages in the Asian Department of the College of Foreign Affairs. Leont’ev translated more than 20 Chinese and Manchurian books into Russian. Many of his translations were the first of their kind in Europe. He was the first to translate Chinese classics from the Confucian canon entitled Four Books (Ta hsüeh, 1780, and Chung yung, 1784), the collection of laws Ta Tsin gurun ucheri koli, i.e., All Laws and Statutes of the Chinese (Presently, the Manchu) Government (parts 1–2, 1778—79; vols. 1–3, 1781–83), and a 16 volume work entitled A Detailed Description of the Origin and State of the Manchurian People and Army (with I. K. Rossokhin, 1784). These and other translations, accompanied by Leont’ev’s commentaries and notes, played an important part in familiarizing Russian society with various aspects of the life and history of China.

V. P. ILIUSHECHKIN