Forbidden Journey: The Life of Alexandra David-Neel

Barbara M. Foster, Author HarperCollins Publishers $21.95 (363p) ISBN 978-0-06-250345-9
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. (September 9)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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