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Record Type: Review   ID: 478

Forbidden Journey: The Life of Alexandra David-Neel

Foster, Barbara M., & Foster, Michael

 Biography of a woman whom Lawrence Durrell called the "most astonishing Frenchwoman of our time." Her lifelong verve and youthfulness, which lasted for 101 years, is attributed to her practice of yoga. She is quoted as saying "adventure is my only reason for living," and it appears to typify her life. She made voyages to India, Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Japan, Korea, the Soviet Union, and a final return to France where she spent her last 23 years. The Indian government maintained a detailed dossier on her because they suspected that she was a spy. These valuable documents as well as books, letters, and interviews formed the basis of this biography. Fueled by the desire to show "what the will of a woman could do," David-Neel made a daring journey to Lhasa, the forbidden Tibetan capitol, in order to learn Tibetan Buddhism at first hand, and earned the title of lama. She had dreamed of that city since she was six years old. According to the Dalai Lama, she was "the first to introduce the real Tibet to the West." Many people have found David-Neel's own works fascinating, but one could not help but wonder how much of it was hyperbole, imagination, exaggeration. This book provides a sound foundation for her own books. The authors, who spent 10 years of travel and research in writing the book, independently corroborate David-Neel's accounts.
Publisher Information:San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1987. 363p. Bibl: 349-355; Chap notes: 329-348; 26 illus; Ind: 357-363; 2 maps
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