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The Light of Asia

A History of Western Fascination with the East

Christopher Harding

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English
Allen Lane
14 May 2024
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This various, rich and enjoyable book tells the story of the many ways in which Asia has influenced Europe and North America over centuries of tangled, dynamic encounters

From the time of the ancient Greeks onwards the West's relationship with Asia consisted for the most part of outrageous tales of strange beasts and monsters, of silk and spices shipped over vast distances and an uneasy sense of unknowable empires fantastically far away. By the twentieth century much of Asia might have come under Western rule after centuries of warfare, but its intellectual, artistic and spiritual influence was fighting back.

The Light of Asia is a wonderfully varied and entertaining history of the many ways in which Asia has shaped European and North American culture over centuries of tangled, dynamic encounters, and the central importance of this vexed, often confused relationship. From Marco Polo onwards Asia has been both a source of genuine fascination and equally genuine failures of comprehension. China, India and Japan were all acknowledged to be both great civilizations and in crude ways seen as superseded by the West. From Chicago to Calcutta, and from antiquity to the new millennium, this is a rich, involving story of misunderstandings and sincere connection, of inspiration and falsehood, of geniuses, adventurers and con-men.

Christopher Harding's captivating gallery of people and places celebrates Asia's impact on the West in all its variety.

By:  
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 236mm,  Width: 164mm,  Spine: 46mm
Weight:   704g
ISBN:   9780241434444
ISBN 10:   0241434440
Pages:   464
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Christopher Harding is the author of the widely praised Japan Story- In Search of a Nation - described by Neil MacGregor as 'Masterly. How much I admired it, what a lot I learned from it and, above all, how very much I enjoyed it' - and The Japanese. Harding teaches at the University of Edinburgh and frequently broadcasts on Radio 3 and Radio 4. He also writes the IlluminAsia blog, about Asia's influence on Western life.

Reviews for The Light of Asia: A History of Western Fascination with the East

"""[Harding] has considerable talent as a storyteller--Most of all, he transforms his material into an ultra-progressive account of modern Japanese history...ushered to the front are those that the so-called patriarchy attempted to repress: the maverick women, socialist thinkers and doubters of the state version of modernity...enlivened at every turn with flashes of wit...an enormously readable book."" -- The Japan Timeson The History of Modern Japan"


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