[Buddha-l] Gedun Chopel, 20th century Tibet's finest writer

Dan Lusthaus vasubandhu at earthlink.net
Tue Mar 1 16:28:11 MST 2011

> http://www.iias.nl/article/gedun-chopel-20th-century-tibets-fines
> t-writer
> article by Heather Marie Stoddard
> Donald S. Lopez Jr., editor and translator, 2009. In the Forest
> of Faded Wisdom, 104 Poems by Gendun Chopel. A Bilingual Edition.
> Read the article via the pdf link on this page.

Stoddard's review rakes Lopez over the coals, starting with the book's title 
(wrong mood, misleading number), accusing him of misunderstanding the tone 
and meaning of the poems, playing games instead of providing a bio of Gendun 
Chopel or providing meaningful context for the poems, neither historically, 
biographically, in terms of Tibetan literary and poetic genres, nor in terms 
of the larger works from which many of these "poems" (she puts that word in 
scare-quotes) are extracted. She writes:

"Thus, to isolate verses from their original context, as is
largely done in this book, without giving any indication of
the original, in place or time, in context or meaning, beyond a
thematic attribution, appears as a modernist misappropriation
of the original source."

She questions Lopez's ability to understand Amdo vernacular Tibetan, which 
the poems frequently employ. She leaves no avenue of complaint unturned.

In fact she ends by awaiting a better translator:

"...it is to be hoped, in view of the Amdo
Beggar's [i.e., Gendun Chopel] reputation, that a golden goose will emerge, 
a true
poet in English who is familiar with the living Tibetan world,
with the vernacular and with the classical texts, and with
the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism, who will be able,
like André Gide did with Rabindranath Tagore's Gitanjali,
not just to translate but to transpose Gedun Chopel's superb
prose-and-verse into fine literary English (or French, or
German, etc.) - and put them into context."

She is an expert on Gendun Chopel and clearly doesn't feel this book does 
him justice.


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