Dr Christopher Harding

The Light of Asia by Christopher Harding published today by Allen Lane


Christopher Harding The Light of Asia

Congratulations to Dr Christopher Harding on the publication of his book The Light of Asia: A History of Western Fascination with the East by Allen Lane.

This rich and enjoyable book by the acclaimed author of Japan Story explores the many ways in which Asia has influenced Europe and North America over centuries of tangled, dynamic encounters. 

From the time of the ancient Greeks onwards the West’s relationship with Asia consisted for the most part of outrageous tales of strange beasts and monsters, of silk and spices shipped over vast distances and an uneasy sense of unknowable empires fantastically far away. By the twentieth century much of Asia might have come under Western rule after centuries of warfare, but its intellectual, artistic and spiritual influence was fighting back.

The Light of Asia is a wonderfully varied and entertaining history of the many ways in which Asia has shaped European and North American culture over centuries of tangled, dynamic encounters, and the central importance of this vexed, often confused relationship. From Marco Polo onwards Asia has been both a source of genuine fascination and equally genuine failures of comprehension. China, India and Japan were all acknowledged to be both great civilizations and in crude ways seen as superseded by the West. From Chicago to Calcutta, and from antiquity to the new millennium, this is a rich, involving story of misunderstandings and sincere connection, of inspiration and falsehood, of geniuses, adventurers and con-men.

Christopher Harding’s captivating gallery of people and places celebrates Asia’s impact on the West in all its variety.

A ‘beautifully written, deeply absorbing and revelatory account…  a judicious, far-reaching exploration of how the discovery of Eastern beliefs, customs and mores helped to shape Western ideas as much as Western advancements were in turn been taken up in the East… elegant and entertaining’ ★★★★★ – Mick Brown, The Telegraph

The Light of Asia is available now from all good book retailers.