The Pretended Asian: George Psalmanazar's Eighteenth-century Formosan Hoax
Wayne State University Press, 2004 - 182 páginas
In the summer of 1703, George Psalmanazar traveled to London posing as an East Asian native from Formosa - now modern Taiwan. In the following year, Psalmanazar published a book about his native country, A Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, a highly entertaining account of exotic Asiatic customs, replete with illustrations of Formosan costumes, temples, houses, castles, funeral processions, ships, and coins, as well as examples of the Formosan language and its alphabet. The book quickly went through two editions and appeared in French, Dutch, and German. Psalmanazar's fake Formosan language even became confused as an authentic language sample in the developing field of comparative linguistics. Although he was a blond European, posing as a member of another race was never a problem for Psalmanazar or his audience, since the concept of race, Michael Keevak claims, did not yet exist. In The Pretended Asian, Keevak looks at how Psalmanazar - far from having a difficult time pretending to be East Asian - readily played upon Asian stereotypes and the preconceptions of a public all too eager to learn about the Far East, enabling him to build an identity that could eve
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