Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée studied literature, philosophy, and Chinese in Paris and Taiwan, and from 1970 onward she collaborated with the late Fr. Claude Larre and Dr. Jean Schatz on classical Chinese thinking and medical texts. She teaches at the Jesuit University in Paris and is the senior lecturer at the European School of Acupuncture.
Elisabeth was born in Paris in 1949. She studied philosophy, literature and classics at the Paris University and completed her Masters degree in Classics. When she was 20 she met Claude Larre s.j. while he was working on his PhD thesis on the Huainanzi and making a translation of the Laozi. As a result of his influence she began to study Chinese, working with him on Chinese classical texts. She also studied modern Chinese with a native speaker and spent a year in Taiwan to further her studies.
In the early 1970s Father Larre met Dr Jean Schatz, a western physician and acupuncturist, and together they began to work on translations of the classical medical texts. At this time Elisabeth embarked on a study of Chinese medicine, and together with Dr Schatz and Father Larre, began the first study group of the classical medical texts in Paris. This lead to the founding of the European School of Acupuncture in Paris in 1976. From this work together Father Larre, Dr Schatz and Elisabeth co-authored A Survey of Chinese Medicine, published in 1979. Under the auspices of the Ricci Institute in Paris, Elisabeth also published numerous booklets on the seminal texts of Chinese medicine and philosophy including Rooted in Spirit, Lingshu chapter 8, and Suwen chapters 1-11. Elisabeth also co-authored translations and commentaries on Zhuangzi and Huainanzi, and presented a study of the Mawangdui funeral banner.
In the mid 1980s Elisabeth began to accompany Father Larre on his teaching engagements in both the UK and the US. Her encyclopaedic knowledge of the medical texts and Father Larre’s subtle understanding of the background culture and philosophy combined to produce a unique teaching team.
Elisabeth worked closely with Father Larre on the Grand Ricci dictionary, managing the project as father Larre’s health declined. The first edition – two volumes of single characters – was completed in 1999. The second edition of seven volumes was finally published at the time of Father Larre’s death in December 2001. This awsome achievement is testament to an inspiring collaboration which lasted over 30 years.
Elisabeth continues to teach worldwide, working with both classical medical and philosophical texts.