March 8, 2012

Alexandra David-Néel, an exceptional woman

Montréal, Thursday, March 8, 2012 — On this March 8 — Women’s Day — a day on which women are celebrated in every way possible, Chants Libres would like to pay homage to the heroine of their new opera, Alexandra David-Néel, considered one of the pioneers of the women’s movement.

A free-living feminist, she beccomes an opera singer and tours the world over before marrying Philippe Néel, a well known engineer in Tunisia, in 1904. In 1911, she separates from him in order to travel to India. She travels throughout the Far-East and Central Asia until 1925. She dedicates herself to spending the vast majority of her life passionately exploring and studying the peoples of Asia. During the years she travels through these territories, she also applies herself to meditation, participating in retreats to many monasteries in the region. In 1914, she meets the young monk Aphur Yongden, who she later adopts. They live as hermits in a cave in northern Sikkim, at an altitude of 3900 meters, then leave for China and Japan. Disguised as a beggar, she visits Tibet many times, even visiting the forbidden city of Lhassa in 1924, until being discovered. Back in France, she buys a house in 1928, on the outskirts of Digne. There, she writes many works telling the world about her adventures, but most importantly about the people of the Himalayas and Buddhism. After a voyage to China from 1937 to 1946, she returns to Digne where she dies at the age of 101.

Below, you will find information about books by Alexandra David-Néel as well as a collection of texts edited by Marie Madeleine Peyronnet, who was her secretary for ten years, and who continues the work of the explorer in Digne-les-Bains in France, as the director of the Alexandra David-Neél Foundation.

  • Voyage d’une Parisienne à Lhassa: à pied et en mendiant de la Chine à l’Inde à travers le Tibet, Paris, 1967, rééd. 2004.
  • Journal de voyage: Lettres à son mari, 11 août 1904 — 27 décembre 1917. Vol. 1, Plon, Paris, 1975
  • Journal de voyage: Lettres à son mari, 14 janvier 1918 — 31 décembre 1940. Vol. 2, Plon, Paris, 1976
  • Voyages et aventures de l’esprit, Albin Michel, Paris, 1994. Selection of texts edited by Marc de Smedt and Marie Madeleine Peyronnet.

On the web:

Chants Libres

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