China, 1898: a time of war, intrigue and growing foreign power. Onto the scene comes a Parisian fugitive with a gifted pen and a journalist's eye. Alfred Raquez, a self-proclaimed "explorer without a mission", drifts from Indochina to Hong Kong, Macao and Canton before falling in with a group of shady entrepreneurs in Shanghai with interests far up the Yuan River. In short order, Raquez sets off on a rollicking voyage into the heart of the lawless Miao-country, pen and camera in hand, far beyond the reach of Peking's court and its ruling Empress Dowager. The result is a richly recorded adventure through fin-de-si cle China told from the perspective of a wandering French boulevardier and in a startlingly fresh voice. The first English translation from the French of a long out-of-print and sorely neglected work, In the Land of Pagodas offers scholars and students new and unexpected historical insights into the ferment of 1890s China. In its narration it also reveals much about the derring-do and startling hypocrisy of the colonial enterprise. At the same time, this is a tale that will fascinate all readers, taking them on a picaresque journey that is as much Moulin Rouge as it is Heart of Darkness.
About the Author
Alfred Raquez (Author) 'Alfred Raquez' was the pseudonym of Joseph Gervais, a bankrupt French lawyer who fled to the Far East in the late 1890s and had access to some of the powerful players in French Indochina. He wrote prolifically about China and Indochina, took some of the earliest photographs of Laos and made the earliest field sound recordings in that land. He died under mysterious circumstances in Marseille in 1907. Confidence man, daring explorer, dashing bon vivant, proto-photojournalist and amateur ethnographer in equal parts, Raquez offers one of the more intriguing voices (not to mention mystery-filled yarns) of any commentator on the mix of ambitions and follies of of European colonial expansion into the Far East.William L. Gibson (Editor, Translator) William L. Gibson is a writer, researcher andoccasional sound artist based in SoutheastAsia. With a PhD in literature from theUniversity of Leeds, he is also the author of atrilogy of hard-boiled crime fiction set in 1890sSingapore and Malaya.Paul Bruthiaux (Editor, Translator) A prolific academic author and editor with aPhD in linguistics from the University ofSouthern California, French-born PaulBruthiaux now lives in Thailand. His memoir, French Bred: Growing Up Provincial in a BygoneFrance, was published in 2012.