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The Tibetan Book of the Dead:
A Biography
Donald S. Lopez, Jr.

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"Concise and written with Lopez's usual clarity, this short book at times reads like an exciting spiritual detective story as the author methodically takes the reader through the improbable developments that led to the creation of what, in some sense, is a Western creation brought forth from Eastern concepts. . . . Although written for a popular audience, this book should be of interest to all scholars interested in the metamorphosis of Buddhism as the dharma has become transplanted in the West."--George Adams, NovaReligio

"Lopez is a good scholar with an engaging style . . . and a reader new to the Tibetan Book of the Dead will find this book a reliable and often entertaining introduction to the work and to its Tibetan and Western histories."--Geoffrey Samuel, European Legacy

"Although the book addresses a broad and general audience, it is still an excellent scholarly study on the translation and transformation of Tibetan texts into a single English book that eventually became a 'timeless world spiritual classic.' The study is firmly set in the complex trajectories of transcultural encounters and should benefit religious studies scholars from different fields of research. For scholars of American religious history, Buddhism in the West, and contemporary religion in the Euro-American context, the book provides an accessible account of the Buddhist and Tibetan background of the text in question; for scholars from Buddhist and Tibetan studies, the book offers a window to modernist adaptations and interpretations of Buddhist texts in 20th-century America. This slim volume will function well in the undergraduate classroom to demonstrate that religious texts are not timeless and fixed entities. . . . Lopez's narrative biography of The Tibetan Book of the Dead will provide a useful and accessible reading assignment for more specialized classes."--Katja Rakow, Religion

"This [is a] magnificent little piece of literary iconoclasm."--Michel Clasquin-Johnson, Relegre-Studies in Religion and Reception


"On the history of Buddhism and its transmission to the West, Donald Lopez is the unsurpassable master. The story he tells here about a book that is 'not really Tibetan' and 'not really about death' glistens with delicious ironies and arresting historical parallels. Who else but Lopez would begin a history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead with the story of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith--and then, like a mystery writer, reveal the connections at the end? This is a sly and wildly entertaining book."--Kenneth L. Woodward, contributing editor, Newsweek

"The Tibetan Book of the Dead has a wonderful story, and in this fascinating and charming little book, Donald Lopez reveals himself to be a wonderful storyteller."--Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography

"This smart, entertaining introduction to The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a real delight. Despite its title, Donald Lopez argues, The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a uniquely American book and can be properly read and understood only from that perspective. He demonstrates this by exposing its direct links to American Theosophy and spiritualism at the dawn of the New Age in the early twentieth century, while also drawing interesting parallels to the visionary beginnings of Mormonism."--Bryan J. Cuevas, author of The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the Dead

"This book offers a fascinating and fresh discussion of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and its life as a text in the United States. Donald Lopez argues that persistent threads in American religious life--the tradition of the 'found' text as a repository for ancient wisdom, and a philosophical interest in life after death--help explain the overwhelming success of the book and its endurance as a cultural artifact."--Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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File created: 4/24/2017

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