India and Europe : from Barlaam to Brecht


The one-day Symposium is a follow-up of an international Conference held in Amiens (France) in 2007: during three days 25 scholars from various research fields met around « Regards occidentaux sur l’Inde » theme. Historians or musicologists, specialists of medieval or modern literature, indologists or philosophers, the contributors – each in his/her own field – had endeavoured to look at the way in which European creators and thinkers fed on India and that since the birth of Europe in the Middle-Ages. Some were studying how an image of India has been built up through travelogues, studies and translations while others were looking at the expression of that very such image by musicians, writers, thinkers and other creators.

Some of us thought that it would be fruitful to go deeper on the topic of the creative power of the general phenomenon dealt with during Amiens Conference. The chosen way was to engage in a multilevel debate taking as starting point a few sample studies. Thus the morning papers and discussions shall deal with our European Middle-Ages when Indian influence extended over European imagination, radiating through classical sources linked with Alexander’s Eastern expedition, as well as through more recent inputs thanks to purely intellectual transmission – see “Barlaam and Josaphat” adventures – or very human vehicles – see Marco Polo archetype of medieval traveler. In the afternoon contributors shall look at the 20th century. However inventive Salman Rushdie will take us to Renaissance and Medicis’ court as well as Moghuls’ one when direct links were multiplying between India and Europe. As for Brecht, he was probably unaware that his “Caucasian Chalk Circle” was to be an invaluable instrument for the transmission to Europe of Indian theatrical technique in the seventies.


Click here to download the detailed programme schedule.


  • Centre d’Etudes Médiévales, Université Jules Verne, Amiens
  • French Institute of Pondicherry


  • Prof. (emer.) Danielle Buschinger, Université Jules Verne, Amiens.
  • Prof. (emer.) Bruno Dagens, Université Paris III – Sorbonne nouvelle.


Jawaharlal Nehru Conference Hall, French Institute of Pondicherry, 11 Saint-Louis Street, Pondicherry 605 001