April 2017: New History Account of Ippolito Desideri’s Mission to Tibet

Harvard University Press has published Dispelling the Darkness: A Jesuit’s Quest for the Soul of Tibet, edited and written by Donald S. Lopez, Jr., and Thupten Jinpa.


The book focuses on Ippolito Desideri, a Jesuit priest who worked as a missionary in Tibet in the 1720s. Desideri, according to the publisher, undertook an “ambitious project” while in Tibet: “a treatise, written in classical Tibetan, that would refute key Buddhist doctrines.” The priest believed that, having convinced “Buddhist monks that these doctrines were false,” he could “dispel the darkness of idolatry from Tibet.”


Dispelling Darkness contains extended excerpts from Desideri’s writings (including Inquiry concerning the Doctrines of Previous Lives and Emptiness and Essence of the Christian Religion). Lopez, of the University of Michigan, and Jinpa, of McGill University, also provide extended comment to demonstrate “how Desideri deftly used Tibetan literary conventions and passages from Buddhist scriptures to make his case.”


More information about Dispelling Darkness is available at the website of Harvard University Press: http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674659704

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