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Prof.Richard Gombrich

The Biography:
Richard GombrichHe was born in London. His mother was an accom¬plish¬ed mus¬ic¬ian, his father, Sir Ernst Gom¬b¬rich, the pre-eminent art historian of the 20th cent¬ury. Ernst Gombrich grew up in Vienna. The psychiatrist Freud, the composer Mahler, and the poet von Hofmannsthal were intimate acquaint¬ances. The philosopher, Sir Karl Popper, be¬came his closest friend.

Richard Gombrich’s education was in the best English trad¬ition of classical learning with an empirical bias. Having master¬ed Greek and Latin literature, he moved on to Sanskrit and Pali. At 39, he was Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford.

This was the earliest Chair in Sanskrit to be established in the West (in 1831). Now it was, for the first time, occupied by a scholar whose principal interest was in Buddhism.

Gombrich’s first book illustrates his range. It is a work of soc¬ial anthro¬pology, based on fieldwork in Sri Lanka. It gives a clear, compelling picture of village Buddhism. Then it com¬pares that with the classical (Pali) literature. So it shows how care¬fully the tradition has been maintained — and also throws light on how lay Buddhist life is likely from the first to have related to doctrinal categories.

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