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Mar 28, 2011

This famous troubadour from Provence lived almost to be one hundred years old - from 1180 to 1278. Due to his extraordinary for these medieval times life, he had a rare chance to observe deep changes around him. He saw how his native Occitan culture first went up to its highest point. And he witnessed its decline during the Albigensian Crusade and its post-Albigensian Crusade state. The name of this famous composer, poet and troubadour was Peire Cardenal. And his works are kind of different from many other troubadours of his time.

A lot of materials about Peire are still waiting for English author who will write a book about this exceptional man. There are so many materials that still need to be translated from Occitan and French into English. So what do we know now about Peire Cardenal?

He was born in Puy-en-Velay, Auvergne, France apparently of a noble family. And he was educated as a canon himself. Peire studied at the foremost cathedral school in Puy before becoming a song writer. He visited various courts of kings and barons, and had a jongleur to sing with him.

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Posted: Mar 28, 2011 3:04pm
Jun 10, 2008

We often use word Shangri-La in a similar context to Garden of Eden, It means for us some kind of a perfect paradise that exists hidden from modern man. In some cases we use it as an analogy for a life-long quest or something elusive that is much sought by man in the form of love, happiness, or Utopian ideals. Shangri-La has its place with other mythical and famous examples such as The Holy Grail, El Dorado, The Fountain of Youth. But, in fact, this word came to us from… fiction. This word first appeared in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by British author James Hilton. In the book, Shangri-La is a mystical, harmonious valley, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains. The novel was so popular, that this word became synonymous with any earthly paradise but particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia. From my web analytics company archives I found, that the author based the story of Shangri-La is based on the concept of Shambhala, a mystical city in Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

It is getting funnier, though. As years rolled by, several locations in the Buddhist Himalaya between northern India and Tibet claimed to be the basis for Hilton's legend, largely to attract tourism. A popularly believed inspiration for Shangri-La is the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, close to the Tibetan border, which Hilton visited a few years before Lost Horizon was published. Being an isolated green valley surrounded by mountains, enclosed on the western end of the Himalayas, it closely matches the description in the novel. A Shangri-La resort in the nearby Skardu valley is another popular tourist attraction.

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Ekaterina G.
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