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Jesuit on the Roof of the WorldIppolito Desideri's Mission to Tibet$
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Trent Pomplun

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377866

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377866.001.0001

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Compositio Loci: Tibet

Compositio Loci: Tibet

Chapter:
(p.161) 6 Compositio Loci: Tibet
Source:
Jesuit on the Roof of the World
Author(s):

Trent Pomplun (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377866.003.0007

This chapter assesses Desideri's manuscripts in light of similar literature written by Jesuits in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It shows that the missionary's descriptions of Tibetans, their religion, and their culture rest firmly in the literary trends and intellectual assumptions of the time, especially Tartar romances and the baroque vogue for all things Egyptian. It argues that Desideri manipulated these literary tropes to paint a sharp contrast between the natural virtues of Tibetans and the diabolical sins of the sixth Dalai Lama, a contrast that he intended to further his own argument for rights to the Tibetan mission. Whether the Jesuit missionary remains a cipher for our own anxieties or dreams will be left to the reader's judgment.

Keywords:   rhetoric, exotica, colonialism, travel literature, Marco Polo, Mongols, Egypt

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