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Reading: Alai’s The Mountain Stairway: A Grassroots Conception of Tibet


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Alai’s The Mountain Stairway: A Grassroots Conception of Tibet


David Duckler

Bard College
About David
David Duckler graduated from Bard College in 2009 with a major in Chinese Language and Literature. Under the guidance of Bard Professor Li-Hua Ying, David is completing his translation of Tibetan author Alai's The Mountain Staircase. After an extended research project on the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of Chinese tea ceremony, conducted while teaching at Qingdao University, David is returning to the U.S. to further his studies in Chinese literature and philology.
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It seems that the current literature regarding Tibet is quite impoverished as a true cultural indicator of the region and its people. The West writes of Tibet as an exotic solution to its own malaise, or as the last refuge of Hermetic wisdom. The Han Chinese have used Tibet as a muse and as an antidote to materialism. The current literary criticism brushes over cultural and stylistic concerns to cut right to politics. In every case, Tibet as a cultural concept is simply used to complement something external to it, to stand in contrast to something else. The Tibetan writer Alai specifically rejects these negative and meaningless definitions of Tibet.
How to Cite: Duckler, D., 2010. Alai’s The Mountain Stairway: A Grassroots Conception of Tibet. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 17(2), pp.94–119. DOI:
Published on 01 Apr 2010.
Peer Reviewed


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