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Travels in Tartary, Thibet and China,…
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Travels in Tartary, Thibet and China, 1844-1846

by Evariste-Regis Huc

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Huc was a French missionary assigned to convert the Mongolians. He and his companion and coworker Gabet decided to travel from Mongolia to Lassa in Tibet, reasoning that since Mongolian religion was focused on Lassa, they could have more influence there. This book (actually 2 books published as one) is a description of their journey from Mongolia to Lassa in Tibet, and their journey from Tibet to China when they were expelled shortly after arriving. Huc is a lively, observant writer, and makes an already interesting trip even more so. He and Gabet apparently spoke Mongolian and Chinese well, and were working on learning Tibetan throughout the book, so they always have a lot to say about what people say is going on around them. They were travelling shortly after China lost the Opium War to Great Britain, and apparently were expelled based on Chinese suspicions about Europeans penetrating Tibet.

Huc was a missionary, so he writes a good deal about religious matters in the countries he traveled through, paying most attention to church structures, monastic organization, and religious beliefs. It is a bit odd to read him inveighing against the foolishness of Buddhist beliefs, only to have him continue on with his aspirations for making people believe similarly foolish Christian notions. At any rate, in spite of looking down at local religion and the character of the Chinese people, he seems to have a sincere respect and regard for the people and cultures he saw.

Like most Dover books I've read, this book is beautifully bound and printed, and is a joy to handle and read. ( )
  baobab | May 22, 2010 |
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