Tucci the Explorer

stor_6731307_38420 (1)When the capital of Tibet was still the mythical “Forbidden City”, a mysterious destination for the most adventurous explorers, when Nepal was covered with forests and swamps, swarming with dangerous beasts and forbidden to foreigners, when Italy was ruled by the Fascist regime greedily eyeing potential colonial possessions in Asia, a learned and adventurous man, the perfect embodiment of that era’s virile ideals, entered places where no Western man had before set foot: crossing glittering peaks of snow, desolate deserts and ruins of ancient cities, constantly challenging himself, he discovered archaeological treasures from past civilizations.

Even today, in the East as well as in the West, the name of this intrepid Italian explorer and insatiable researcher is cloaked in an aura of legend.

One could hardly imagine a richer and more exciting life than that of Giuseppe Tucci (1894-1984), the scholar who may quite rightly be considered one of the fathers of modern Oriental Studies and a central protagonist of Fascist cultural policy in Asia: from his first expeditions to the valleys of the Himalayas and the plains of the Ganges, to his diplomatic activity in Japan as spokesman for the Duce; from his encounters with scholars and leaders such as Gandhi, Tagore, the Dalai Lama, Mircea Eliade and Giovanni Gentile, who was his great protector together with Giulio Andreotti, to the archaeological excavations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in more recent years; a human and intellectual adventure inextricably linked to the history of modern Italy, on which he often managed to shed new light.

An adventure that can be traced in the pages of this book, where the pace of a thrilling narrative combines with the scientific and historical reconstruction of the Fascist policy in Asia, and of Tucci’s favorite creation, the powerful Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East.

A history based on eyewitness accounts and historical documents, such as the original and unedited correspondence between Tucci and Andreotti, and the unpublished notes of Mussolini.

What should I add? That it took me 10 years of research and travels to collect all the material and write the book, and more 2 years of editing. I want to thank the scholar Roberto Donatoni, who revised the Sanskrit and Nepali translations and all the transliterations from Tibetan, Chinese and other Asian languages. I also thank Giancarlo Maggiulli (Adelphi), who edited the general structure of the work and skilfully cut here and there. He also suggested to add a list of characters, which you can find at the bottom of the 2nd volume.

The work was enormous but I am very happy to see that our effort has been appreciated. Thanks!

© Copyright Enrica Garzilli 2014

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