Shangri-La and History in 1930s England
Keywords:James Hilton, British popular culture
AbstractThis paper addresses the question of the existence and transmission of Buddhism in British culture in the 1930s. It argues that Buddhism found channels of transmission through popular culture, such as James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. Lost Horizon can be understood historically in relation to current Western ideas about Buddhism, and in response to the sense of historical crisis of Western modernity. This paper also shows that elements of a more genuine Buddhism are extracted from orientalist materials and deployed by Hilton in ways that make the novel a carrier of quasi-Buddhist ideas.
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