Forbidden Journey: The Life of Alexandra David-Neel

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9780062503459: Forbidden Journey: The Life of Alexandra David-Neel

Dust jacket notes: "This is the uncommon story of the remarkable Alexandra David-Neel, prolific author, inveterate explorer and traveler, pioneer feminist, and world authority on Tibetan Buddhist tantric rites. Lawrence Durrell called her 'the most famous Frenchwoman of her time.' Jules Massenet praised her singing and interpretation of his immortal coquette, Manon. Alan Watts praised her 'wonderfully lucid' writing, and the Gomchen of Lachen (a Tibetan High Lama and wizard) extolled her great courage and determination. Strong, opinionated, domineering, brilliant, rarely compassionate even with those close to her, David-Neel was born in Paris in 1868 and died at Digne, France in 1969, nearly 101 years of age. Bounced on Victor Hugo's knee, she led a singular life marked by adventure, fame, and honor. She was sought after by authors, explorers, presidents, and maharajas. But she is especially celebrated for her daring journey, at the age of 54, through bandit-infested forests in the dead of winter to Lhasa, Tibet. Disguised as a beggar, with a revolver concealed beneath her rags, she became the first European woman to enter the forbidden holy city. Forbidden Journey tells the history of an era and the story of a courageous spirit prepared to risk everything to show the world 'what the will of a woman could do.'"

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From Publishers Weekly:

Explorer, feminist and an authority on Buddhist philosophy and Tibetan tantrism, Paris-born Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David (18681969) was the author of 30 books on anthropology, geography, history, orientalism and philologyall, like her life, crammed with adventure. Nearing middle age and retired as an opera singer, she became the mistress and, subsequently, the wife of Philip Neel, a philandering French engineer in Tunis, whose financial support enabled her to spend her remaining life away from him. Eventually, disguised as a Tibetan beggar and having meanwhile adopted as her son a young Tibetan, she arrived at last in Lhasa in the winter of 1924, the first European woman to enter that forbidden city. Thereafter, until she died at the age of 101, she settled in southeastern France, in a villa named Fortress of Meditation, and received honors, awards, accolades from scholars, governments and institutions of learning. Despite its idiosyncratic manner and style, this romantic biography, relying extensively on David-Neel's letters and papers, adequately tells the story of an extraordinarily courageous woman. Barbara Foster teaches at Hunter College in Manhattan, Michael Foster is the author of Freedom's Thunder, a novel. Photos.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Born in 1858, Frenchwoman David-Neel went to London at 20 to study occultism, flirted with anarchism, and sang with an opera company that toured Indochina. At age 40 she began to write and lecture on Buddhism. At 55 she entered Tibet from China, traversed the mountains on foot, and became the first European woman to enter the holy city of Lhasa. The manuscripts that she brought out and translated preserve much of the culture that would otherwise be lost. This first biography in English is based on interviews, on David-Neel's books and letters, and on dossiers kept by governments that thought she was a spy. It takes care to explain the religious and cultural backgrounds and should appeal to general readers as well as scholars. Sally Mitchell, English Dept., Temple Univ., Philadelphia
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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