Pilgrimages to India

Theodore Ziolkowski

in Modes of Faith

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226983639
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226983660 | DOI:
Pilgrimages to India

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Many European thinkers, writers, and artists crisscrossed India on cultural pilgrimages in search of the paradise they regarded as lost in Western civilization—in the days when a trip to India meant weeks at sea and not just hours in a jet. At the turn of the century, Pierre Loti embarked on his quest for Vedic wisdom on the subcontinent. Three years later, the young German adventurer Waldemar Bonsels spent five months on the Malabar coast. Other notable travelers to India during the twentieth century were Max Dauthendey, Stefan Zweig, Melchior Lechter, Hermann Hesse, and Hermann von Keyserlinga. For various reasons, India emerged as a favored goal for cultural pilgrimages among European seekers after a surrogate for their lost faith. The strength of the wave can be judged by the reaction of George, a vigorous opponent of all mysticism, to Lechter's travel journals. Ever since the late eighteenth century, the extended official presence of England had produced a voluminous Anglo-Indian literature comprising plays, poems, and hundreds of stories and novels.

Keywords: cultural pilgrimages; India; lost faith; Melchior Lechter; travel journals; Anglo-Indian literature; England; novels; poems; Hermann Hesse

Chapter.  15894 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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