Travelers have always experimented with disguise while observing the disguises of others. Each of the chapters in Mobility and Masks illustrates the strategies of concealment in the experience of travel: a seventeenth-century German aristocrat discovers new freedom as she travels incognito, Jesuits write home from China in the eighteenth century about how costume changes serve their mission, a Chinese opera star reflects on his own masked art during a tour of Russia in 1935. Masking can be a racial marker, as shown in two nineteenth-century accounts: an English woman encountering the creole culture of the West Indies and a French woman observing how cosmetic beauty is defined in Shanghai. Fictional representations of the masked traveler are illustrative, too: masked voices in the lyric poetry of Horace, the masked woman as an obstacle in classic adventure tales, the failure of cultural masking in the story of a modern immigrant.
Elizabeth C. Goldsmith is Professor Emerita of French at Boston University.