Friday, July 21, 2006

Boil 1.97

..."Caraboo", a mysterious lady, who appeared at Almondsbury near Bristol in 1817, unable to speak any known language but distinguished by a strange black turban. Described as "a most beautiful woman", "surprisingly fascinating" and "an angel", "Caraboo" supplied little more than her own name, but taken up by the local gentry and confronted with a succession of scholars and Orientalists proceeded to assent to various bits of the theories they offered about her; thus, as in some psychological parlour game, she constructed an identity which was a projection of her interviewers' fantasies. It was soon agreed that she was a "person of consequence" from an island near Sumatra. The daughter of a Chinese father and a Malay mother, she had been abducted by pirates, from whose clutches she had escaped by jumping into the English channel.
Grevel Lindop, TLS June 6 2006, p.8


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