Richard Wilhelm was a German translator and sinologist who is best known for his translations of Chinese texts, particularly the ancient Chinese classic, the I Ching. His translations of Chinese literature and philosophy helped to introduce Western audiences to Chinese culture and thought, and his work continues to be studied and appreciated today.
There are many stories and anecdotes about Richard Wilhelm that can be found online. Some of these stories highlight his skill as a translator and his deep understanding of Chinese culture and philosophy. For example, there is a story about how Wilhelm was once asked to translate a poem by the Tang dynasty poet Li Bai. In the poem, Li Bai describes a scene of a full moon shining on a river. Wilhelm struggled to find the right words to capture the beauty and simplicity of the image, and eventually asked a Chinese friend for help. The friend told him that in Chinese, the phrase for “the moon on the river” is just two characters: yueh ho. Wilhelm was amazed by the economy of language in Chinese poetry, and his translation of the poem became a classic.
Other stories about Wilhelm focus on his personal life and his interactions with other famous intellectuals of his time. For example, there is a story about how Wilhelm met the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and the two became friends. Wilhelm introduced Jung to the I Ching, and Jung was so impressed by the book that he began to use it in his own psychoanalytic practice. The two men corresponded for many years, and their letters have been published in a book called “The Secret of the Golden Flower”.
Overall, the stories about Richard Wilhelm paint a picture of a brilliant and dedicated scholar who was deeply committed to bridging the gap between Eastern and Western cultures. His translations and interpretations of Chinese texts have had a profound impact on Western philosophy and spirituality, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of scholars and thinkers.