The Lotus and the Lion by Jeffrey Franklin, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
The Lotus and the Lion

The Lotus and the Lion

by Jeffrey Franklin
     
 

Buddhism is indisputably gaining prominence in the West, as is evidenced by the growth of Buddhist practice within many traditions and keen interest in meditation and mindfulness. In The Lotus and the Lion, J. Jeffrey Franklin traces the historical and cultural origins of Western Buddhism, showing that the British Empire was a primary engine for curiosity

Overview

Buddhism is indisputably gaining prominence in the West, as is evidenced by the growth of Buddhist practice within many traditions and keen interest in meditation and mindfulness. In The Lotus and the Lion, J. Jeffrey Franklin traces the historical and cultural origins of Western Buddhism, showing that the British Empire was a primary engine for curiosity about and then engagement with the Buddhisms that the British encountered in India and elsewhere in Asia. As a result, Victorian and Edwardian England witnessed the emergence of comparative religious scholarship with a focus on Buddhism, the appearance of Buddhist characters and concepts in literary works, the publication of hundreds of articles on Buddhism in popular and intellectual periodicals, and the dawning of syncretic religions that incorporated elements derived from Buddhism.

In this fascinating book, Franklin analyzes responses to and constructions of Buddhism by popular novelists and poets, early scholars of religion, inventors of new religions, social theorists and philosophers, and a host of social and religious commentators. Examining the work of figures ranging from Rudyard Kipling and D. H. Lawrence to H. P. Blavatsky, Thomas Henry Huxley, and F. Max Müller, Franklin provides insight into cultural upheavals that continue to reverberate into our own time. Those include the violent intermixing of cultures brought about by imperialism and colonial occupation, the trauma and self-reflection that occur when a Christian culture comes face-to-face with another religion, and the debate between spiritualism and materialism. The Lotus and the Lion demonstrates that the nineteenth-century encounter with Buddhism subtly but profoundly changed Western civilization forever.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Whereas most Victorianists are aware of such bestsellers as Edwin Arnold's poem about the Buddha, 'The Light of Asia,' few understand the sheer scope of the 19th-century Buddhism industry. Franklin collects wide-ranging references to, studies of, and polemics about Buddhism, ranging from poems and tracts to novels and religious scholarship. Drawing on postcolonial theory, especially theories of hybridity, the author argues that the 19th-century imperial encounter with Buddhism reshaped Britain as much as it did Britain's colonies. As Franklin demonstrates, Victorians drew on Buddhism (however understood or misunderstood) to criticize Christianity and to develop their own religions—for example theosophy—even as more orthodox Christians also saw the growing presence of Buddhism in Britain itself as part of an atheist threat. The author further demonstrates Buddhism's complex influence on bestselling novelists like H. Rider Haggard and Marie Corelli. But in his most provocative chapter he takes on Rudyard Kipling's Kim, arguing that a Buddhist reading of the text denies the 'polarization' beloved of Western critics (e.g., between India and the Great Game or the self and the other). An exceptionally lucid, accessible study. Summing Up: Highly recommended."—Choice, July 2009

"I have been hoping someone would write this book. The sustained readings of Corelli, Haggard, Blavatsky, Edwin Arnold, and Kipling are significant. Most works on Buddhism and Western literature tend to offer weak analogies—how an author's views are 'like' certain Buddhist ones—but J. Jeffrey Franklin actually traces the relationships. The Lotus and the Lion will have a unique place in criticism, forever changing our view of Victorian religion by placing it in its global context."—James Najarian, Boston College

"What did Elizabeth Gaskell know about the Dalai Lama? What did Marie Corelli and H. Rider Haggard know about Buddhist ideas of reincarnation and karma? If your reflex answer is 'nothing,' The Lotus and the Lion will surprise you. The assumption that the Victorians knew very little about Buddhism or that such references form mere Orientalist gestures may, J. Jeffrey Franklin suggests, tell us more about ourselves than about them. Franklin chronicles his own 'eye-opening' encounter with the Victorian knowledge of Buddhism in a well-researched and intriguing book that should make scholars open their eyes in turn."—Lisa Surridge, University of Victoria

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801447303
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >