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Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism

Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism
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The most influential work on Buddhism to be published in the nineteenth century, Introduction à l’histoire du Buddhisme indien, by the great French scholar of Sanskrit Eugène Burnouf, set the course for the academic study of Buddhism, and Indian Buddhism in particular, for the next hundred years. First published in 1844, the masterwork was read by some of the most important thinkers of the time, including Schopenhauer and Nietzsche in Germany and Emerson and Thoreau in America. But a century and a half on, Burnouf’s text has largely been forgotten.

All that changes with Katia Buffetrille and Donald S. Lopez Jr.’s English translation of this foundational text. Reemerging here as a vibrant artifact of intellectual history and as a progenitor of the often colorful genealogy of Buddhist studies, Introduction to the History of Indian Buddhism provides a clear view of how the religion was understood in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Burnouf was an impeccable scholar, and his vision, especially of the Buddha, continues to profoundly shape our modern understanding of Buddhism. Indeed, the work offers a wellspring of still-valuable information and insight into the theory and practice of Buddhism. In reintroducing Burnouf to a new generation of Buddhologists, Buffetrille and Lopez have revived a seminal text in the history of Orientalism.

University of Chicago Press; February 2010
618 pages; ISBN 9780226081250
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