Macau Periodical Index (澳門期刊論文索引)

Shaw, Damian
The Adventures of Willson Avery and the Limits of Cultural Relativism: The Forgotten Record of the Travels of Lucy Hiller Lambert Cleveland to the East Indies and Timo
Journal Name
Pub. Info
Dec. 2011, 總第18期, 第2期, pp. 45-62
Travel;Children;Southeast Asia;Slavery
Abstract : During 1828-1829, Lucy Hiller Lambert Cleveland (known as a folk artist and author ofchildren’s literature) travelled to Timor and Macao. She wrote a diary of the voyage, and a fictionalised account of the journey appeared a few years later in a novel for children entitled The Adventures of Willson Avery. Though this work has been largely forgotten, it presents a fascinating account of Sino-Southeast and Asian-Western contact in the early nineteenth century. This article aims primarily to re-introduce a valuable text, and to explore Cleveland’s presentation of various groups in Southeast Asia at the time, especially the Chinese, Malays, Portuguese and British. Although Cleveland is at times critical of the habits and activities of these groups, she constantly advocates the necessity for cultural understanding of other groups in the book. Her reasoning seems to be based on an uneasy combination of Cartesian rationalism, idealistic Romantic sensibility and Protestant Christianity. I highlight several interestingtopics raised by the novel such as slavery, the relationship between children’s literature, nationality and travel writing, and the role of suffering in Romantic travel literature, but also question the limits of Cleveland’s early nineteenth centuryunderstanding of cultural relativism. However much Cleveland might advocate understanding and toleration of other cultures, it becomes clear that her ultimate wish is that these cultures would eventually become assimilated into the Protestant American self. Her contact with other participants in the Southeast Asian colonial and trade nexus, however, inevitably leads to a sense of cultural alienation that is not entirely effaced from the novel.