- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Medina Publishing Ltd (June 3, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1909339539
- ISBN-13: 978-1909339538
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 739 g
- Customer reviews: Be the first to review this item
Deeper Than Indigo Hardcover – 3 June 2015
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"... the story of a forgotten pioneer whose startling diaries shed a surprisingly progressive light on European colonialism."--Hannah Finch "Western Morning News "
About the Author
A writer, artist, lecturer and intrepid traveller, she is author of two books on Indigo, and numerous other writings. Jenny was consultant curator for the Whitworth Art gallery's 2007 touring exhibition 'Indigo, a Blue to Dye For' and consultant for two documentary films. An Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University, and a Fellow of London's Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Asiatic Society and New York's Explorers Club. She is involved in research into dyes in shipwrecks, is a partner in 'Silk Road Connect', an educational initiative launched by cellist Yo Yo Ma's Silk Road Project in New York in 2009, lectures internationally and promotes revivals of natural dyes worldwide.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Thomas kept detailed journals describing his travels, and Jenny Balfour Paul makes inspired use of his words to recreate his life in vivid detail and to relay his adventures and the enlightenment and suffering they brought him. All this is illuminated by her own travels in Thomas's footsteps, as she conjures up a vivid succession of times, places and perspectives framed by her own experience.
Over the years Jenny leaves no stone unturned as she researches Thomas's life and times and seeks out points of connection with him, whether it's visiting his childhood home in Yorkshire or searching out his grave in India. Deeper than Indigo offers historical fact aplenty, along with reflections and reminiscence, literary, philosophical and religious quotations and aphorisms, and beautiful illustrations and photographs, all woven together with an intuitive, personal touch.
Jenny is a natural storyteller, as I realised when I saw her speak about Deeper than Indigo at North Cornwall Book Festival, and she skilfully draws together the contrasting threads of Thomas's life and her own. So, for example, we move between Thomas’s first sea voyage in 1840 and his first sight of the Orient - Madras at dawn - and Jenny as an 18-year-old setting out on the hippie trail in 1970. She crosses the Turkish border into Iran in a Land Rover with its engine patched up with poached eggs, and later sees the Bamiyan Buddhas: 'The fate awaiting this wonder of the world was as inconceivable to me as it would have been to travellers in centuries past.' Thomas witnesses death by drowning and fever, and soon sees military action, witnessing the brutality of the Opium Wars between Britain and China.
Thomas goes on to become an indigo planter; indigo is an interest that he and Jenny share across the centuries, and she touches briefly on her extensive travels to research indigo and preserve knowledge of its use as a dye - 'to such places as south-west China, Tokushima Island in Japan, the Dogon cliffs of Mali near Timbuktu, and back to India'. The lonely end of Thomas's story in India is tempered by Jenny's journey to the New World to meet some of his surviving relatives; she is given a warm welcome and finds out about others in the family who share Thomas’s questioning and observant approach to life, including a Theosophist artist and an aeronautical engineer who worked for NASA.
Jenny quotes John le Carre in the first chapter of Deeper than Indigo: 'the purpose of life is to make sure our origins are not our destinies'. Thomas could have settled for a quiet existence in the English countryside, but even though he loved his family home he was driven to make a life for himself far from the landscape of his birthplace. However far he travelled, Thomas could not escape history - but looking back on his life as readers, knowing what he could never know and seeing how the past survives in the present, it almost feels as if we can.