Monday, January 5, 2009

Comparing China

The other day I noted that the American comedian Will Rogers compared the countryside around Harbin to Nebraska when he visited in the early 1930s. This jogged my memory to other bizarre comparisons that have cropped up over the decades – invariably to various English places:

In the 1870s Jules Verne compared Hong Kong to a town in Kent or Surrey

In 1933 Peter Fleming toured China and compared Chengde to Windsor

He then compared Peking with Oxford for some reason!

Later in 1938 Auden and Isherwood (above obviously) described the countryside around Guangzhou as reminiscent of the Severn Valley

And then during his stay in China during the Second World War the (yet to be at the time) famous Sinologist Joseph Needham compared Fuzhou to Clapham and, perhaps most bizzarely, wartime Chongqing to Torquay!

And so a blog about China gets to include a picture of Torquay in the charming county of Devon


John Guise said...

Yes I remember that from your Peter Flemming speech at the Shanghai Literary Festival. Weird comparisons but an excellent post.


Paul French said...

makes a change from the Shanghai=Blade Runner nonsense I seem to read constantly from lazy journalists

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