The Perfection of Wisdom

Iconoclast, astrologist, communist sympathizer, and devoted practitioner, Edward Conze translated Buddhism for the West.

Eric M. Zsebenyi

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His wife Muriel called him "the old man who hates everyone." His mother once described him as "nothing at all, just a bundle of contradictions." Yet Dr. Edward Conze almost single-handedly made the Prajnaparamita ("Perfection of Wisdom") sutras—the fundamental scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism—available to the English-speaking world. Conze’s pioneering accomplishment is still hailed as a model of meticulous scholarship, and he ranks among the greatest and most prolific modern translators of the Buddhist tradition. But as renowned as Edward Conze was for his erudition, he was equally well known for his caustic, often outrageous temperament, and the combination earned him an intriguing and contradictory reputation.

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