libraries; some of them were literally inaccessib1e.l Consequently, formore than a quarter of a century Coomaraswamy was absent from theconfrontation and debates of the "living culture."Although Coomaraswamy built up his reputation with his firstbooks-Mediaeval Sinhalese Art (1908), Arts and Crafts ofIndia andCeylon (1913), and especially Rajput Painting (1916)-and becameincreasingly known and respected among the orientalists and thehistorians of culture after 1917 (when he was appointed Keeper of theDepartment of Indian Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts), heenjoyed only once being an "auteur
succ&s,"and it was for a wrongreason. In 1922 Madeleine Rolland brought out the French translationof The Dance ofShiva with a long and enthusiastic preface by RomainR~lland.~he great prestige of the author of Jean Cristophe made thiscollection of essays a best seller, and La Danse de Shiva was warmlydiscussed in all European literary weeklies from Lisbon and Rome toAthens, Bucharest, and Warsaw. By that time (1922-25), however,most of these essays scarcely represented Coomaraswamy's new ideasand interests.Lipsey's well-documented and brilliantly written biography, the firstto appear in any language, presents in detail the different social andcultural milieux in which Ananda Coomaraswamy evolved, from hisfirst official position as a geologist in Ceylon (1902-5) until his settlingin Newton, near Boston (193247).
is a fascinating story, which aidsin understanding the development and characteristictraitsbf coomaras-wamy's oeu~re.~or our purpose, it suffices to say that one can dis-tinguish three important phases in Coomaraswamy's intellectualbiography. The first, one is marked by his research into the history ofIndian art and handicrafts and his interpretation of their functions and
Of course, Coomaraswamy's interest in Indian art lasteduntil the end of his life, but the hermeneutical method was progressivelydeepened. In what we may call the second stage one notices
growingfamiliarity with some problems of the history of religions, especiallythe symbolism of chtonian fertility represented by the Magna Mater,
To quote only one example: his stimulating and very learned monograph,"SvayamBtmnL: Janua Coeli"
[1939; actually 19401: 3-51), printed inBucharest during my absence and disfigured by a great number of misprints, wasavailable in only fifteen offprints sent by me from Paris in 1945. The entire editionof
was burned up in Bucharest. The original, correct text of
appeared for the first time in
2:465-520 (unlessotherwise stated, references are to this work).
The sad story of the editorial preparation of
is discretely told
by Roger Lipsey (3: v
See my article, "Ananda Coomaraswamy,"
4 (1937):183-89, re~rintedn
Insula lui Euthananius
265-75.see alsb the stimulating review by one of i3)oomaraswamy's diiciples: SchuylerCamman, "Remembering Again,"
3, no. 2 (May 1978): 8P91.One must keep in mind Coomaraswamy's relations with the Indian Nationalistmovements and the influences of William Morris and of the Tagore Circle inCalcutta, (see vol. 3, chaps.
7, 9, 17).