Magazine article World Literature Today

Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book

Magazine article World Literature Today

Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book

Article excerpt

Joyce Morgan & Conrad Walters. Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book. Guilford, Conn. Globe Pequot / Lyons Press. 2012. ISBN 9780762782970

The first impression the reader takes away from this tale of the recovery and preservation of the world's oldest known printed book-a woodcut copy of the Buddhist text of the Diamond Sutra dating from 868 CE-is one of the exhaustive and exhausting research that must have gone into its making. The extent of this work, which began in earnest in 2005 but was inspired much earlier, is recognized in the book's acknowledgments section as well as its scholarly apparatus: endnotes, select bibliography, and an enormously helpful index. But it's also revealed in every chapter and in the minute details out of which this story is built, right down to the history of its central character's "dynasty" of fox terriers, all named Dash.

The book traces the adventures of the intrepid explorer and archaeologist Aurel Stein who, without knowing what he had, in the early twentieth century retrieved the Diamond Sutra from one of the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, where it had resided for more than a millennium. This document, along with the many other scrolls once housed there, would subsequently help scholars to understand the knowledge, ideas, religions, and cultures that were disseminated along the ancient northern and southern routes of the Silk Road between China and Central Asia, around the forbidding Taklamakan Desert, and finally to the Mediterranean. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.