Courageous woman celebrated in new book
By the time she celebrated her hundredth birthday, Alexandra David-Neel — spiritual seeker, opera singer, feminist journalist, intrepid explorer, and Buddhist scholar — had travelled across Asia, visited Tibet when it was closed to travelers, befriended the Crown Prince of Sikkim, interviewed the thirteenth Dalai Lama, and lived as a hermit in a cave high in the Himalayas.
She did most of it in the 1920s, against the social mores of the time. It’s a life that begs telling, and that’s what author Dianne Harke has done.
Harke launches her bookIncognito: the Astounding Life of Alexandra David-Neel on Thursday, October 5 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Public Library.
“I approached it as an ‘imagined biography,’ so as to bring the reader a fuller picture of an exceptionally intriguing person,” says Harke. “When she travelled in 1923 to Lhasa, Tibet, she was 55 years old, a European woman travelling where no woman would travel at that time. She travelled in disguise, with a hidden gun. She was curious, and fearless.”
The novel, published by Sumuru Press, weaves together tales of David-Neel’s adventures and reflections and is illustrated with archival photographs and line drawings. Said reviewer Kimberly Beek, “The author fairly channels Alexandra to give the reader a backstage pass into the spiritual seeker’s internal and external worlds.”
Dianne Harke has been a student of Buddhism as well as a teacher and a teacher-librarian, school library consultant, and librarian. She moved to Nelson in 2008, where she became actively involved in the community as a volunteer and board member.
Although she has published articles and essays, Incognito is her first full-length book.
Photo Caption: Author Dianne Harke