Atlanta, June 2008: XV Congress IABS and biography of Desideri in English
Profitable relations are underway with Italian and foreign scholars concerned or soon to be concerned at various levels and in various fields with the Pistoiese Jesuit. On an international level these include Americans Michael Sweet, Robert Trent Pomplun, Francis Tiso and Donald S. Lopez; Germans Isrun Engelhardt and Rudolf Kaschewsky, and Englishman John Bray. Michael Sweet, author of an excellent edition of the account of Manoel Freyre, Desideri’s travelling companion (“Desperately Seeking Capuchins”), is completing the English translation of the missionary’s full account and it will be presented in a detailed critical edition in response to a heartfelt demand since the only available English edition remains the one admirably edited by Filippo De Filippi in 1932, prestigious in its day but now incomplete and obsolete.
A very important result of international contacts is the decision by the International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS) to include in its XV Congress, 23rd-28th June 2008 at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, a session specifically dedicated to Ippolito Desideri: "Buddhism in the Writings of Ippolito Desideri”. Organisation of the Congress was entrusted to Sara McClintock, and of the Desideri session to Robert Trent Pomplun. In this session (afternoon of 25.6.2008, moderator Bryan J. Cuevas) the following papers were given:
- Desideri and Emptiness: Discovery, Description, Discussion
- "To Go Where Fr. Andrade Had Been": Another View of the Desideri Mission (Leonard Zwilling);
- Ippolito Desideri and the History of Tibetan Art and Architecture (Erberto Lo Bue);
- Human Fraud or the Devil's Work: Desideri's Analysis of the Selection of the Dalai Lama (Michael Sweet);
- Ippolito Desideri's Presentation of the Holy Trinity in the
chos lugs kyi snying po (Trent
Erberto Lo Bue took part with a text read by Trent Pomplun, while the talk was cancelled by British scholar Simon Wickham-Smith, 'At the Right Hand, Honest and True': The Cryptic Significations of the Lexical Choices Made by Ippolito Desideri in his Tibetan Translation of the Pater Noster.
My own participation was generously supported by the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia, which made possible the publication of the first English biography of Ippolito Desideri. This publication [E.G. Bargiacchi, A Bridge Across Two Cultures. Ippolito Desideri S.J. (1684-1733). A brief biography], produced by the Istituto Geografico Militare in Florence and intended as a "Contribution to the XV Congresso IABS di Atlanta", was included in the folder distributed to the conference participants and made a considerable contribution towards arousing interest in the missionary. Among the many comments, I have reproduced here that of Dan Arnold (University of Chicago): «I found particularly interesting the things you said about Desideri's obviously subtle and sympathetic understanding of emptiness -- it is indeed interesting to speculate on the different courses intellectual history might have taken had his work not remained in obscurity for so long!» (message sent to me on 7.7.2008).
The success of the mission to Atlanta is due to the support of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pistoia e Pescia, and also the decisive helpful contribution made by my cousins Giovanni Innocenti and Franca Mazzini.
Reports on the Atlanta congress in: "La Nazione" (Wednesday 25.6.2008, p. IX / Agenda Pistoia, Bargiacchi porta Desideri in Usa; Friday 22 August 2008, p. IX / Agenda Pistoia, Importante riconoscimento in Usa per Desideri e il suo studioso pistoiese), "La Vita" (Sunday 27.7.2008, p. 11, Leonardo Soldati, Ippolito Desideri in Usa; Sunday 2.11.2008, p. 11, Leonardo Soldati, Desideri ad Atlanta), "Il Tirreno" (Thursday 26.8.2008, Pistoia Cronaca, p. II, Il polo universitario intitolato a Desideri. The Atlanta conference reassesses the works about Tibet of the Pistoiese Jesuit).
The biography of Desideri in English can be requested (15 euro) in the following bookshops: Libri dall'Asia, Studio bibliografico di Mario Rossello (Via Nazario Sauro 21 - 43100 Parma - tel. e fax 0521 221329; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ); Taberna Libraria di Federica Lucarelli (via della Rosa, 38 - 51100 Pistoia - tel. e fax 0573 994562; e-mail: email@example.com).
Mentions of A Bridge Across Two Cultures in "La Vita", Sunday 27.7.2008, p. 11; “La Nazione”, Friday 22.8.2008, p. IX; "Avventure nel Mondo", a. XXXV, n. 2, July-December 2008, p. 107; “Bollettino della Societŕ Geografica Italiana”, a. CXLI, fasc. 4, October-December 2008, p. 1021, “Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu”, a. LXXII, fasc. 154, July-December 2008, p. 558. A review by Horia Corneliu Cicortaş will be published in "Mission Studies". Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies (edited by Lalsangkima Pachuau; Book Review editor Paul Kollman).
Comment about this book:
[…] the textbook contains the brief biography of Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733). In this way, the English-speaking public have access to a new, practical and easily readable tool for reconstructing the biography and the historical context extremely interesting both from a missionary perspective and from the point of view of the dialogue between different religions and cultures. The main strength of this work lies in the fact that, despite its reduced size, it was carried out with the methodological rigor of someone who consulted primary sources, thus enabling us to have a human, intellectual and religious portrait of the Tuscan hero, and the historical background of his missionary activity. This background also deals with the sensitive issue of the rapports between Capuchins and Jesuits, which as a matter of fact Bargiacchi often focuses on, with the very end to enable us to understand the human and spiritual adventure of Desideri [H.C. Cicortas, to be published in "Mission Studies" 20010].
DESIDERI Project: D.PROJ.01Foreword, D.PROJ.02Researches, D.PROJ.03Beginning, D.PROJ.04Rel.History, D.PROJ.05Lect.2004-6, D.PROJ.06Art.2004-6, D.PROJ.07D.Biography2006, D.PROJ.08D.Bibl., D.PROJ.09Ev.2007, D.PROJ.10Ev.2008, D.PROJ.11Atlanta2008, D.PROJ.98Development, D.PROJ.99Bibl.App.