“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Buying a Used Car in Old Shanghai

Posted: July 7th, 2021 | No Comments »

Imagine how many crooks, tricksters, conmen and generally dodgy types were around in old Shanghai? Now remmeber that the used car business is a natural home to crooks, tricksters, conmen and generally dodgy types. And so imagine what a potential nest of vipers a Shanghai used car showroom must have been. Of course, Albert Motors might have been totally legit….

This ad for the company is from 1947 and so uses the dual road names then common – the old Settlement?French Concession names mixed with this introduced by either Wang Jing-wei during the war or the Nationalists just after. So Roi Albert was also now Shensi Road South and is now Shaanxi Road South.

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Early French Modernism, Confucius & The Sundays of Jean Dezert

Posted: July 7th, 2021 | No Comments »

The Sundays of Jean Dezert by Jean de la Ville de Mirmont is a novella written in about 1912/1913 before the author went to war and was killed. It is a quite stunning work of French early modernism and ticks just about all the modernist reference boxes – jazz, cinema, trolleybuses, electric chains, modern funerals, vending machines, vegetarian restaurants etc. The novel is a snapshot of modern Parisian life just before the First World War. In among all these saymbols of the new and the modern are, of course, for this period Chinese lanterns:

“He invited Mademoiselle Dorgeval, a striking brunette who speicalized in the chanson rosse, out to dinner. He learned to play billiards and backgammon. He joined up with a procession of students in the Latin Quarter, carrying a Chinese lantern on the end of a cane. He even went dancing at the Tabarin and inadvertently almost got embroiled in a matter of honour with an artillery sergeant.”

But Confucius also gets a mention – which is interesting as it shows both a trend at the time for references to China in European early modernist works and the transmission of ideas back and forth much more than is normally acknowledged. Jean de la Ville de Mirmont’s stories of Jean Dezert have uncanny echoes in some Chinese early modernist writing, such as that from Mu Shiying (check out his stories here)….

Jean Dezert is spending one of his precious Sundays (now a time not for church and rest but for consumerism and consumption of course) browsing the bouquiniste book stalls on the Quai Voltaire.

For 5 sous he discovers a thin volume, printed in London in the 18th century entitled: Confucian Ethics and Chinese Philosophy. If this is not a real book (and if it is then i can’t find it with that exact title) then de la Ville de Mirmont is thinking of then there were many similar ones available.

Jean Dezert reads a few maxims:

A magistrate must honour his father and mother…

There are three things wise men must revere: the laws of heaven, powerful men, and the words of the righteous…

Jean Dezert thinks those OK maxims, but a third, he believes, symbolises his life…

When one is unable to find a remedy to an illness, it is useful to keep searching for one…

Dezert buys the book and, at home, places it on the nightstand next to his bed and, we are told, consulted it everyday for the rest of his life…

Jean De La Ville De Mirmont (1886-1914)
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Iconographies of Occupation: Visual Cultures in Wang Jingwei’s China, 1939–1945

Posted: July 5th, 2021 | No Comments »

Jeremy Taylor’s Iconographies of Occupation is an absolutely fabulous book for those interested in Wang Jingwei’s collaborationist regime during the war – and the kindle version is free!

Iconographies of Occupation is the first book to address how the “collaborationist” Reorganized National Government (RNG) in Japanese-occupied China sought to visualize its leader, Wang Jingwei (1883–1944); the Chinese people; and China itself. It explores the ways in which this administration sought to present itself to the people over which it ruled at different points between 1939, when the RNG was first being formulated, and August 1945, when it folded itself out of existence. What sorts of visual tropes were used in regime iconography and how were these used? What can the intertextual movement of visual tropes and motifs tell us about RNG artists and intellectuals and their understanding of the occupation and the war?

Drawing on rarely before used archival records relating to propaganda and a range of visual media produced in occupied China by the RNG, the book examines the means used by this “client regime” to carve out a separate visual space for itself by reviving prewar Chinese methods of iconography and by adopting techniques, symbols, and visual tropes from the occupying Japanese and their allies. Ultimately, however, the “occupied gaze” that was developed by Wang’s administration was undermined by its ultimate reliance on Japanese acquiescence for survival. In the continually shifting and fragmented iconographies that the RNG developed over the course of its short existence, we find an administration that was never completely in control of its own fate—or its message. Iconographies of Occupation presents a thoroughly original visual history approach to the study of a much-maligned regime and opens up new ways of understanding its place in wartime China. It also brings China under the RNG into dialogue with broader theoretical debates about the significance of “the visual” in the cultural politics of foreign occupation.

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Shanghai’s Comfort Dispensary

Posted: July 1st, 2021 | No Comments »

Old Shanghai’s Comfort Dispensary was up on Lloyd Road (Liuhe Lu). This ad is from 1947 when both the old International Settlement road names and the new ones introduced by the Nationalist govenrment (most of which were then replaced again by the communists) were running in tandem, at least in English.

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Yung Ziang Press of Foochow Road

Posted: June 30th, 2021 | No Comments »

Yung Ziang Press – ‘Printers you can rely on…’ – down on Foochow Road (Fuzhou Lu) among the bookstores, restraurants and sing-song houses in the 1930s….

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MUSIKER UND MUSIKERINNEN IM SHANGHAIER EXIL 1938–1949

Posted: June 30th, 2021 | No Comments »

Sophie Fetthauer of Hamburg University has done an amazing piece of research that will benefit all us working on old Shanghai – the academics as well as those like me….this has everybody who was anybody included.

MUSIKER UND MUSIKERINNEN IM SHANGHAIER EXIL 1938–1949/
approx. 800 pages, ISBN 978-3-95675-033-5, 68.00 €

Topics covered include: the role of aid organizations in preparing the
exile • popular music scene • trade union involvement • classical
music scene and institutionalization • the Shanghai Municipal
Orchestra • stage productions • Jewish cantors in synagogues and
concerts • music educators and Chinese student circles • activities of
composers • migration and rehabilitation after the end of the war

Book orders from Germany and Austria: http://www.bockelverlag.de/
bestellung@bockelverlag.de
Book orders from other countries: https://www.booklooker.de/

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Becoming Inspector Chen

Posted: June 28th, 2021 | No Comments »

The Inspector Chen back story….Becoming Inspector Chen

After a number of grueling cases Chief Inspector Chen is facing mounting pressure from his superiors, many of whom are concerned with where his loyalties lie. What’s more, he is excluded from an investigation into an incendiary poem posted on an online forum.

Wracked with self-doubt and facing an anxious wait to discover the fate of his career, Chen is left to reflect on the events that have led to where he is now – from his amateur investigations as a child during the Cultural Revolution, to his very first case on the Shanghai Police Force.

Has fighting for the Chinese people and the morals he believes in put him in conflict with the Party? Why is he being kept away from the new case? As well as his career, is his life now also at risk?

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Royal Asiatic Society Beijing – The Inside Story of ‘Becoming Inspector Chen – 30/6/21

Posted: June 25th, 2021 | No Comments »

The Inside Story of “Becoming Inspector Chen”

WHAT: “The Inside Story of ‘Becoming Inspector Chen'”, an RASBJ online conversation with author Qiu Xiaolong about his latest crime thriller, moderated by Rianka Mohan.
WHEN: June 30, 2021 Wednesday 8:00 PM – 9:00 PM Beijing Standard Time

Award-winning writer Qiu Xiaolong says his latest book is his personal favorite because of its autobiographical and experimental elements. In this RASBJ conversation, Qiu reveals to us the story behind “Becoming Inspector Chen”, the latest in his series about Shanghai police inspector – and poet — Chen Cao. Despite setbacks at work, Inspector Chen pursues a mysterious new case involving a controversial poem posted on China’s most popular social media platform. His own past may hold tantalizing clues. The narrative about the inspector’s investigation has something evocative for nearly every kind of Sinologist — from the legacy of the Cultural Revolution to meticulously textured street life, from ancient poetry to the murder of a rich foodie after an extravagant but puzzling meal. The talk will be moderated by freelance writer Rianka Mohan.

HOW TO JOIN THE EVENT ON ZOOM:
This event is free and exclusively for members and associates of RASBJ, and its RAS partners. If you know someone who wants to join the RASBJ, please ask them to sign up at least 48 hours before the event via our website at: https://rasbj.org/membership/

MORE ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Qiu Xiaolong won the 2001 Anthony Award for Best First Novel for Death of a Red Heroinewhich kicked off his best-selling Inspector Chen series of detective novels set in China. He has since written ten additional novels in the series; his books have sold millions of copies, and have been translated into more than twenty languages. And all his Inspector Chen novels have been made into BBC radio dramatizations. He has also published collections of short stories, poetry, and poetry translations. Born in Shanghai, China, Qiu Xiaolong published poetry, translation and criticism in Chinese before he went to the United States as a Ford Foundation Fellow and obtained his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis. He currently lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.

MORE ABOUT THE MODERATOR: Rianka Mohan has moderated panels at the EU-China Literature Festival, the Neilson Hays Festival, and other literary events. She spent 15 years in New York working as an investment banker for J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse. She is currently working on a screenplay.

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