再会,老北京 | The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed by Michael Meyer

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2019年11月29日13:00:00再会,老北京 | The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed by Michael Meyer已关闭评论 344 次浏览
再会,老北京 | The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed by Michael Meyer

A fascinating, intimate portrait of Beijing through the lens of its oldest neighborhood, facing destruction as the city, and China, relentlessly modernizes.

Soon we will be able to say about old Beijing that what emperors, warlords, Japanese invaders, and Communist planners couldn’t eradicate, the market economy has. Nobody has been more aware of this than Michael Meyer. A long-time resident, Meyer has, for the past two years, lived as no other Westerner—in a shared courtyard home in Beijing’s oldest neighborhood, Dazhalan, on one of its famed hutong (lanes). There he volunteers to teach English at the local grade school and immerses himself in the community, recording with affection the life stories of the Widow, who shares his courtyard; coteacher Miss Zhu and student Little Liu; and the migrants Recycler Wang and Soldier Liu; among the many others who, despite great differences in age and profession, make up the fabric of this unique neighborhood.

Their bond is rapidly being torn, however, by forced evictions as century-old houses and ways of life are increasingly destroyed to make way for shopping malls, the capital’s first Wal-Mart, high-rise buildings, and widened streets for cars replacing bicycles. Beijing has gone through this cycle many times, as Meyer reveals, but never with the kind of dislocation and overturning of its storied culture now occurring as the city prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Weaving historical vignettes of Beijing and China over a thousand years through his narrative, Meyer captures the city’s deep past as he illuminates its present. With the kind of insight only someone on the inside can provide, The Last Days of Old Beijing brings this moment and the ebb and flow of daily lives on the other side of the planet into shining focus.

北京,充满活力的中国之都,变化是唯一不变的主题。

对中国人而言,北京是一切的中心:政府、传媒、教育、艺术和交通,甚至包括了语言和时间。自北京建城以来,她就是吸引外来人口、商人、学者和探险者的魅力之地,其中也包括了13世纪的马可·波罗:“全城地面规划有如棋盘,其美善之极, 未可宣言。”

这副“棋盘”的遗址仍留在北京城内,六十多平方公里的面积和曼哈顿区差不多大,那些叫做胡同的狭窄巷子也依然存在。胡同之于北京,就如河道之于威尼斯。几个世纪以来,胡同一直是这个城市的文化特点,即使现在的巷子还不到以前的八分之一。

北京并不是西方人眼中的城市。1962年,一名外国记者将这里定义为“史上最大的乡村”。尽管这里有世界上第二繁忙的机场,近一百家星巴克和一条覆盖到城市核心之外的新的地铁系统,但在某些北京人的眼中,它仍是一个乡村。

过去十年,就像是任何一个崛起中的国家的首都那样,北京这个大乡村走向了国际。穿过天安门广场,百公里外的长城标志着这个城市宽广的界限。或许它的改变可以用这个小插曲来说明:

几年前我看到一个充满乐观意味的横幅,挂在一栋老楼的拆迁现场,上写:再现古都。

一天晚上,不知道谁悄悄地将第二个字的左半部分去掉,所以口号变成了:再见古都。

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  • 版权声明: 发表于 2019年11月29日13:00:00
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