Accounts of her journeys

« Au pays des brigands gentilshommes«  (1933) relates to what she called   » the country of gentlemen bandits  » , a history which retraces the exploits of the explorers caravan during her journey from Kumbum to Jakyendo, the first unsuccessful attempts to reach Lhasa.  This book transports us to the very heart of the adventure and teaches us the finer details about the local customs, the inhabitants, the villagers and nomads, the religious and laymen, the bandits and soldiers, discrete meetings, and of legends and real life anecdotes.

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The « Voyage d’une parisienne  à Lhassa » (My journey to Lhasa) recounts the story of her stupefying journey, on foot, across the Himalaya’s towards the prohibited capital, disguised as an old Tibetan beggar, and accompanied by her adopted son, the Lama Yongden.  Published in 1927, in New York, London, and Paris, it was a worldwide success…..it was translated into English, German, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Swedish, Dutch, Italian, and Polish.

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Later, written in 1940, following her compelled stay in Tatsienlou, « Sous des Nuées d’orages«  recounts the beginning of her last stay in China, as well as her escape before the arrival of the Japanese in 1937-1938.  This book shares with us a lively account of Alexandra’s anxieties during her headlong flight from the Japanese troops.  Its testimony is equally passionate in terms of the historic.

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« A l’ouest barbare de la vaste chine«  (1947) and « Le vieux tibet face à la chine nouvelle«  (1951) describe different aspects of the everyday lives of the Tibetans and several minorities living in China.  Alexandra constantly makes reference to her own experiences, as well as the contact that she had with the natives. Ancient China and the Authentic Tibet have all but disappeared.  This is the reason why, today, these texts are considered to be extremely precious.  “Reporter-orientalist” (which is how she liked to describe herself), Alexandra David-Neel brought back some passionate accounts of the customs and lifestyles from the countries that she stayed in.

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Written in 1949, « Au Coeur des Himalayas, le Népal« , is filled with vivid and interesting stories produced in 1913 while she was passing through the territories in and around the birthplace of the Buddha “Cakyamuni”.  This book enables us to discover the archaic Nepal as it was at the beginning of the 20th century.  It includes accounts of: the Katmandu valley, the means of transport – the sedan chair to the palanquin, not forgetting the caravans of elephants……proof that an 81 year old writer is capable of guarding an excellent memory and of producing a vivid account of events which happened 36 years earlier.

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« L’inde où j’ai vécu – hier, aujourd’hui, demain » (My India) was written when Alexandra was 83 years old . At the age of 100 years old, she recieved a literary award for this book. In this publication, constantly reedited, the evocation of the subcontinent is more exciting.  Alexandra, herself, observes the change in attitudes between her first long stay in 1912 and her last in 1945-1946.  The recoil in relation to events is the assurance of a successful analysis and bears witness to an immense intelligence.

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