Rutgers University -- Newark
Last revised 13 March 2004
- Henri Cordier, Bibliographie des ouvrages relatifs
à l'ile Formosa (Chartres, 1893). Includes a short
section on Psalmanazar.
- Useful (but incomplete) bibliographies appear in Foley and
- An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa
(London, 1704). The first edition of the Description.
- An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa,
2nd ed. (London, 1705). The expanded second edition includes a
defensive preface and reorganizes the work. A discussion of the
differences between the editions appears in Swiderski (below),
chapter 9. A facsmile edition was printed by the Explorer's Club
- Description de l'ile Formosa en Asie, dressé sur
les mémoires du Sieur G. P., natif de cette ile
(Amsterdam, 1705; repr. Amsterdam, 1708; London, 1874). First
French translation of the original Description; it bears a
complicated and still not entirely understood relationship to the
first and second English editions. J. P. Bouchon's edition
(Poitiers: Paréiasaure, 1998) is based on the French
translation of 1739.
- G. P--m--r, A Dialogue between a Japonese and a Formosan
about Some Points of the Religion of the Time (London, 1707).
Reprinted in Jacobus Vertrecht, The Articles of Christian
Instruction in Favorlang-Formosan, Dutch and English, ed.
William Campbell (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co.,
- An Enquiry into the Objections against George
Psalmanaazaar of Formosa: In which the Accounts of the People,
and Language of Formosa by Candidius, and the Other European
Authors, and the Letters from Geneva, and from Suffolk, about
Psalmanaazaar, Are Proved Not to Contradict His Accounts
(London, c. 1710). A brief defense and reply to d'Almavy (below).
- Samuel Palmer, General History of Printing, from Its First
Invention in the City of Mentz, to Its First Progress and
Propagation through the Most Celebrated Cities in Europe
(London, 1732). Psalmanazar contributed to the work and
eventually oversaw its production.
- An Universal History from the Earliest Account of Time to
the Present, 7 vols. in 8 (London, 1736-50). Psalmanazar
contributed several histories, including that of the ancient
- Memoirs of ****, Commonly Known by the Name of George
Psalmanazar (London, 1764). Psalmanazar's posthumously
published confession. A pirated edition followed in Dublin in
- Several of Psalmanazar's letters appear in Foley, The
Great Formosan Impostor (below).
- Sidney Lee, "George Psalmanazar," in DNB (London,
1896). Almost every available scrap of authoritative information
on the life is collected here; later biographies provide little
more than elaboration, although Foley has corrected a very few
- Frederick J. Foley, S.J., The Great Formosan Impostor
(Taipei: Jesuit Historical Institute; repr. Taipei: Mei Ya
Publications, 1980). The best biography (and indeed best
overview), marred only by Foley's readiness to take Psalamanzar
at his word in his Memoirs.
- Richard M. Swiderski, The False Formosan: George
Psalmanazar and the Eighteenth-Century Experiment of Identity
(San Francisco: Mellen Research Univ. Press, 1991). The most
thorough study. This work is seriously lacking in many respects
-- when information is plentiful, Swiderski presents great masses
of undigested material; when it's sparse, he fills in the gaps
with sometimes reckless (if usually harmless) speculation. It's
also abysmally edited and proofread, with several errors of
spelling, grammar, punctuation, or typesetting per page. It is,
however, the most extensive collection of material on
- Isaac D'Amalvi (or D'Amalvy), Eclaircissemens necessaires
pours bien entendre ce que les Sr. N.F.B.R. dit être
arrivé à l'Ecluse en Flandres par rapport à
la conversion de Mr. George Pzalmanazar, Japanois (The Hague,
1706). D'Amalvi attacks Psalmanazar (and especially Innes) for
his aspersions on Calvinism.
- Richard Gwinnet and Elizabeth Thomas, Pylades and
Corinna, 2 vols. (London, 1731). A letter (pp. 56-66)
describes Psalmanazar's conversation and behavior at a London
dinner party, c. 1705.
- Isaac Disraeli, "Literary Forgeries," in Curiosities of
Literature, Second Series, 3 vols. (London, 1824), 3:48-73.
An essayistic discussion of several forgers from antiquity
through the eighteenth century. Not always accurate.
- C. Whibley, "Of Literary Forgers: G. Psalmanazar and V. D.
Lucas," Cornhill Magazine 85 (1902): 624-36.
- J. A. Farrer, Literary Forgeries (London: Longmans,
Green, and Co., 1907). A belletristic discussion of forgers from
antiquity through the nineteenth century, including a chapter on
- J. Vinson, "Psalmanazar et la langue formosane," Revue de
linguistique 21, no. 2 (1912): 191-97. An early look at the
supposed Formosan language.
- "George Psalmanazar," in The Life of Samuel Johnson,
LL.D., ed. G. B. Hill, rev. L. F. Powell, 6 vols. (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1934-64), 3:443-49 (Appendix A). A rehashing of
the basic events of Psalmanazar's life, with particular emphasis
on his relationship with Johnson.
- A. D. Chevalley, "Psalmanazar," in La Bête du
Gévaudan (Paris: Gallimard, 1936). A superficial
discussion of Psalmanazar's career.
- A. R. Winnett, "George Psalmanazar," The New Rambler
110 (1971): 6-17. A chatty and belletristic overview. Winnett's
conclusion is characteristic of the entire piece: "Whatever be
our judgment of this strange character whose life and works form
a fascinating byway in eighteenth-century literature, let our
last words concerning him, as eloquent as they are simple, be
these: He was Johnson's friend."
- Elizabeth R. Napier, "Swift, Kaempfer, and Psalmanaazaar:
Further Remarks on 'Trampling upon the Crucifix,'" Notes &
Queries 28 (June 1981): 226.
- Takau Shimada, "Possible Sources for Psalmanazar's
Description of Formosa," Notes & Queries 30,
no. 228 (Dec. 1983): 514-16.
- Rodney Needham, "Psalmanaazar, Confidence-man," in
Exemplars (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1985), pp.
75-116. A sensitive anthropological reading of fake ethnography.
A useful bibliography appears at the end of the book.
- Tzvetan Todorov, Les morales de l'histoire (Paris:
Bernard Grasset, 1991), Part I, Chapter II ("Fictions et
verités"), esp. pp. 134-41. An extended meditation on the
difference between truth and fiction in narrative. Todorov
dismisses Psalmanazar on several grounds: "En tant
qu'écrit historique, la Description de Psalmanazar
ne mérite pas le respect car c'est un faux. En tant que
fiction, elle ne commande pas l'admiration, parce qu'elle ne se
présente pas comme telle, et parce que son auteur n'est
pas d'une éloquence extraordinaire."
- Robert Adams Day, "Psalmanazar's 'Formosa' and the British
Reader (including Samuel Johnson)," in G. S. Rousseau and Roy
Porter, eds., Exoticism in the Enlightenment (Manchester:
Manchester Univ. Press, 1990), pp. 196-221.
- Thomas A. Reisner, "'Tongue with a Tang': Survey of an 18th
Century Pseudo-Language," Langues et Linguistique 19
(1993): 187-203. A survey of the linguistic features of
Psalmanazar's fictitious language.
- Frank Lestringant, "Travels in Eucharistia: Formosa and
Ireland from George Psalmanaazaar to Jonathan Swift," trans. Noah
Guynn, Yale French Studies 86 (1994): 109-25. An
examination of the Description in light of controversy on
the Eucharist. One of the more sophisticated studies in print.
- Thomas A. Reisner, "Graphic Affinities: Statistical
Approaches to Psalmanazar's Pseudo-Formosan," Langues et
Linguistique 20 (1994): 81-107. A further study of the
linguistic features of Formosan, with a statistical comparison to
randomly created languages and glossolalia.
Please send comments and corrections to email@example.com.