'History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme' - Mark Twain.
A gallimaufry of random China history and research interests
Monday, January 5, 2009
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
As someone who divides their time pretty evenly writing about China now and China back then this seemed like a place to throw all the interesting bits that fall through the cracks somehow and never get used anywhere else.
It's basically the stuff that doesn't get used in my writing about modern China or in the books I do about old China - i.e. probably of little interest to anyone but me and therefore ideally suited to an obscure blog up a dark cul-de-sac of the Internet.