- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: Faber and Faber (8 May 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571208053
- ISBN-13: 978-0571208050
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 11.2 x 0.8 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,130,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
This is a delightful short biography of an eccentric Hungarian scholar who became one of the fathers of Western studies of Tibetan culture. Educated at an austere Calvinist school until age 31, Csoma De Koros finally set out alone on a pilgrimage to the East, his mission: to discover the roots of the Hungarian people, whom he and others of the time theorized to be descended from Attila the Hun. Due to a Chinese decree restricting foreign entry to Tibet he was sadly never to reach Yarkand, where he hoped to find linguistic proof of the Cenral Asian origins of the Hungarian race. However on his way, via many adventures, misfortunes and disguises, he acquired around 14 languages, became one of the first Europeans to enter Ladakh, and compiled the first relatively reliable Tibetan-English dictionary. Supported and encouraged by the British vet and Superintendent of the East India Company's Stud, William Moorcroft, Csoma went on to study, with Lama Sangye Phuntsog in a remote monastery in Zanskar. For 16 months the two men studied the Tibetan language and vast canon in freezing conditions in a tiny 9 foot square cell. Csoma spent the last years of his life working for the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta, mastering Marathi, Bengali and Sanskrit, before dying of malaria on a final courageous attempt to travel across Tibet to Western China. A fascinating little book.