“Alfred Raquez” is the pseudonym of a reprobate French lawyer who travelled the Far East at the turn of the twentieth century. He wrote extensively on China and Indochina, took some of the earliest photographs of Laos and made the earliest field recordings in that country. Confidence man, intrepid explorer, dashing bon vivant, brilliant writer, 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 European colonial expansion into the Far East.
In the Land of Pagodas (Au Pays des Pagodes). China: 1898. In the middle of one of the most dynamic decades in the history of the Celestial Empire, when Western technology threatened to engulf age-old practices and cultural tensions were set to boil over, came a Parisian con-man with a gifted pen and a journalist’s eye. In the Land of Pagodas takes readers on a picaresque journey that is as much Moulin Rouge as it is Heart of Darkness.
Laotian Pages (Pages Laotiennes). Laos: 1900. A frontier caught in a power struggle between Eastern kingdoms and Western colonial powers, a fertile land teetering between an ancient pastoral existence and the modern machine age. Raquez’s keen eye and sensitivity to the exotic in both nature and human culture, combined with a mastery of the genre and his hallmark conversational style, transport the reader to the largely unexplored frontier of fin-de-siècle Indochina.
"In the Land of Pagodas is an impressive academic update and required reading for anyone with a connection to China." Read the review in South China Morning Post.
Read an interview with William and Paul on China Underground.