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The Search for a Vanishing BeijingA Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages$
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M. A. Aldrich

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9789622097773

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622097773.001.0001

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(p.363) 25 Epilogue
The Search for a Vanishing Beijing

M. A. Aldrich

Hong Kong University Press

The mosaic of Old Peking is complete. The Italian diplomat Daniele Vare struggled with the dilemma of cultural relativism during his postings in Peking. Vare wrote novels set during the Qing and Republican eras. One day, he dreamed up a dramatic incident. A Qing official remonstrates against the emperor's willingness to issue a decree for reform. The official submits a memorial protesting the contents of the decree. He is ignored. To persuade the Son of Heaven of the sincerity of his protest, the official mortally stabs himself in the courtyard of the Hall of Supreme Harmony. The great divide between Vare and his teacher is described. As Stanley Karnow once quipped to fellow foreign devil Dick Hughes, “the Far East is a university in which no degree is ever granted”.

Keywords:   Old Peking, Daniele Vare, cultural relativism, Qing official, Son of Heaven, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Dick Hughes, Stanley Karnow

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