Advertisement

Lost Horizons: British Travellers to Tibet and the Himalayas in the Twentieth Century

  • Tom Neuhaus
Chapter
  • 130 Downloads
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)

Abstract

Tibet and its surrounding areas have become known to Western audiences either as a remote and mystical realm of fantasies or as the location of a bitter conflict between an oppressive China and a long-suffering local population. This dichotomy is reflected clearly in the way in which the travel industry advertises Tibet to tourists. The website of the Rough Guides introduces the area by referring to its contemporary fate:

With its spellbinding scenery and intense religious practices, Tibet (Bod to Tibetans, Xizang to the Chinese) has exerted a magnetic pull over travellers for centuries. But look just a little below the surface and it is all too apparent that Tibet’s past has been tragic, its present is painful, and the future looks bleak. Tibet today is a sad, subjugated colony of China.1

The Lonely Planet, on the other hand, acknowledges these problems but places more emphasis on Tibet’s potential for a fantastical and spiritual experience:

For a while images of the Buddha were replaced by icons of Chairman Mao. Today, Tibetan pilgrims across the country are once again mumbling mantras and swinging their prayer wheels in temples that are heavy with the thick intoxicating aroma of juniper incense and yak butter. Monasteries have been restored across the country, along with limited religious freedoms. A walk around Lhasa’s lively Barkhor pilgrimage circuit is proof enough that the efforts of the communist Chinese to build a brave new (roof of the) world have foundered on the remarkable and inspiring faith of the Tibetan people.2

Keywords

Sustainable Tourism Western Representation Interwar Period Western Modernity Modern Warfare 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Rough Guides, ‘Tibet — China Guide’, at http://www.roughguides.comhttp:///travel/asia/china/tibet.aspx (accessed: 27 June 2011).
  2. 2.
    Lonely Planet, ‘Introducing Tibet’, at http://www.lonelyplanet.comhttp:///china/tibet (accessed: 27 June 2011).
  3. 3.
    For an account of Bogle’s expedition, see K. Teltscher (2006) The High Road to China: George Bogle, the Panchen Lama and the First British Expedition to Tibet (London: Bloomsbury) and G.T. Stewart (2009) Journeys to Empire: Enlightenment, Imperialism, and the British Encounter with Tibet, 1774–1904 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See, for instance, M. Procida (1996) ‘A Tale Begun in Other Days: British Travelers in Tibet in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Social History, 30:1, 185–208; C. Allen (1989) A Mountain in Tibet (London: Futura); P. Bishop (1946), The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Land-scape (London: Athlone 1989). See also T. Neuhaus (2012) Tibet in the Western Imagination (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See P. French (1995) Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer (London: Flamingo).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    A. McKay (2009) Tibet and the British Raj: The Frontier Cadre 1904–1947 (Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives); J. Hilton (1933, 2003) Lost Horizon (Chichester: Summersdale).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    See the biographies of some of the Tibetan frontier cadre by C. Freeman, K. Cech and P. Grover (2003) in C. Harris and T. Shakya (eds.), Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936–1947 (Chicago: Serindia).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    T. Shakya (1999) The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947 (London: Pimlico), pp. 394–5.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    D. Lopez (1988) Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    D. Anand (2007) Geopolitical Exotica: Tibet in Western Imagination (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    M. Isserman and S. Weaver (2008) Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (New Haven & London: Yale University Press), especially Chapter 10.Google Scholar
  12. 14.
    H.L. Landor (1898) In the Forbidden Land (Long Riders Guild Press), vol. I, esp. pp. 242–3.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    See, for instance, T. Longstaff (1950) This Is My Voyage (London: John Murray), p. 145.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    F.S. Smythe (1930) The Kangchenjunga Adventure (London: Victor Gollancz), p. 16.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Ibid., Kangchenjunga, p. 433.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Younghusband in P. Bauer (1938) Himalayan Quest: The German Expeditions to Siniolchum and Nanga Parbat (London: Nicholson & Watson), p. 7.Google Scholar
  17. 20.
    T.F.C. (1927) ‘The Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges. F Kingdon-Ward. London, 1926’, The Geographical Journal, 69:2, 168.Google Scholar
  18. 24.
    Lonely Planet, ‘Introducing Tibet’, at http://www.lonelyplanet.comhttp:///china/tibet (accessed: 27 June 2011).
  19. 25.
    H.P. Blavatsky (1978) Collected Writings. The Secret Doctrine, 3 vols (Aydar: The Theosophical Publishing House), xxiv.Google Scholar
  20. 26.
    For the reception of the film and book, see J.R. Hammond (2008) Lost Horizon Companion: A Guide to the James Hilton Novel and Its Characters, Critical Reception, Film Adaptations and Place in Popular Culture (Jefferson and London: McFarland), pp. 65–72, 138. Lost Horizon was remade again in 1973, but this remake proved to be much less popular than the original.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    For the situation in Germany, see V. Zotz (2000) Auf den glückseligen Inseln: Buddhismus in der deutschen Kultur (Berlin: Theseus) and T. Neuhaus (2011) ‘How Can War Be Holy? Attitudes toward Eastern Spirituality’, in J.A. Williams (ed.) Weimar Culture Revisited (New York: Palgrave).Google Scholar
  22. 36.
    B. O’Neill, ‘The Problems with Tibet’, Guardian, 6 March 2008.Google Scholar
  23. 37.
    D.N. Zurick (1992) ‘Adventure Travel and Sustainable Tourism in the Peripheral Economy of Nepal’, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 82:4 608–28.Google Scholar
  24. 40.
    H.S. Merrick (1933) Spoken in Tibet (New York and London: G.P. Putnam), p. 6.Google Scholar
  25. 41.
    P.H. Hansen (1995) ‘Albert Smith, the Alpine Club and the Invention of Mountaineering in Mid-Victorian Britain’, The Journal of British Studies, 34:3, 300–24; N.V. Flora (2003) ‘The Library of the Himalayan Club, A Unique Cultural Institution in Simla, 1928–1946’, Libraries & Culture, 38:4, 289–321.Google Scholar
  26. 42.
    J. Hanbury-Tracy (1938) Black River of Tibet (London: Frederick Muller), p. 74 (see p.7 for his mention of Hilton’s novel).Google Scholar
  27. 43.
    C. Harris (2003) ‘Seeing Lhasa: British Photographic and Filmic Engagement with Tibet, 1936–1947’, in C. Harris and T. Shakya (eds.) Seeing Lhasa: British Depictions of the Tibetan Capital 1936–1947 (Chicago: Serindia), pp. 1–78; McKay, Tibet.Google Scholar
  28. 44.
    C.R. Cooke (1975) ‘Yeti Country’, Mankind Quarterly, 15:3, 185; B. Heuvelmans (1955, 1995) On the Track of Unknown Animals (London & New York: Kegan Paul), pp. 150–1.Google Scholar
  29. 46.
    R. Izzard (1955) The Abominable Snowman Adventure (London: Hodder), p. 265.Google Scholar
  30. 50.
    Anand, Geopolitical, pp. 98–102; J. Powers (2004) History as Propaganda: Tibetan Exiles Versus the People’s Republic of China (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 151–2.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Tom Neuhaus 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Neuhaus

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations