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Imagining Tibet

Perceptions, Projections, and Fantasies

Edited by Thierry Dodin and Heinz Rather / Foreword by Tsering Shakya

In the past century, the Western view of Tibet has evolved from an exotic Shangri-la filled with golden idols and the promise of immortality, to a peaceful land with an enlightened society now ravaged by outside aggression. How and why did our perception change? How accurate are our modern conceptions of Tibet?

Imagining Tibet is a collection of essays that reveal these Western conceptions. Providing an historical background to the West's ever-changing relationship with Tibet, Donald Lopez, Jeffrey Hopkins, Jamyang Norbu, and other noted scholars explore a variety of topics - from Western perceptions of Tibetan approaches to violence, monastic life, and life as a nation in exile, to representations of Tibet in Western literature, art, environmentalism, and the New Age movement.

"Imagining Tibet brings together some of our most thoughtful scholars to ruminate on the ways that mythology has become merged with what we take to be the reality of Tibet. A rich kaleidoscope of insights on this fascinating subject."

– Orville Schell, author of Virtual Tibet: Searching for Shangri-La from the Himalayas to Hollywood

"This illuminating collection of essays will be of interest to all Tibet-watchers, whatever their political or intellectual persuasion."

– Melvyn C. Goldstein, author of The Snow Lion and the Dragon: China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama

"This important book shows how Tibet's realities are represented by others; it should be read by everyone interested in the origin and subtext of such fascination and imagery."

– Tsering Shakya, Fellow in Tibetan Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies.

"An important discussion of the western mythology of Tibet as Shangri-La. It includes three papers on foreign missionaries and scholars of Tibet, eight works on the western and Chinese views of Tibet as other, eight commentaries, and a synthesis by the editors. It also includes a foreword by Tsering Shakya, a bibliographic reference, biographical data, and a useful index. A delightful book."

– Religious Studies Review