2008年8月31日 星期日

Jardin des Tuileries

English

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杜伊勒里宫及花园
杜樂麗宮及花園

杜樂麗宮法語Palais des Tuileries)曾是法國的王宮,位於巴黎塞納河右岸,於1871年被焚毀。

目錄

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[編輯] 歷史

杜伊勒里宫东立面,面向卢浮宫广场
杜樂麗宮東立面,面向羅浮宮廣場

1559年法國國王亨利二世去世後,其遺孀卡特琳·德·美第奇決定搬出亡夫居住的羅浮宮,另建新宮。1564年,卡特琳·德·美第奇下旨在羅浮宮西面約250米遠的地方營建杜樂麗宮。「杜伊勒里」的名字來於該處的一座石灰窯(tuileries)。

杜樂麗宮的設計師為菲利貝·德·洛梅(Philibert de l'Orme),他在設計時參考了義大利文 藝復興時代的宮殿建築,將布局設計成南北向的長條形宮殿,西側的所有主要房間均面向西邊的杜伊勒里花園。宮殿主體建築為兩層,一層為舉行禮儀活動的公用空 間,二層布置國王及王后的臥室和起居室等私人空間。二層之上有閣樓屋頂。建築正立面中央為圓穹頂,兩翼為法式方穹頂。杜伊勒里花園的布局仿照美第奇太后的 故鄉——義大利佛羅倫斯的花園,布局對稱,並種植了來自義大利的檸檬、柑桔等植物。宮殿于17世紀初完工,由「花廊」(Pavillion de Flore)與羅浮宮相連。

亨利三世路易十三,法國國王均往來居住于杜樂麗宮與羅浮宮兩處宮殿中。瓦盧瓦王朝的國王居住在空間封閉的羅浮宮的時間更多一些,1588年三亨利之戰」中,吉斯公爵亨利一世曾下令其私兵和巴黎市民圍困羅浮宮,攻打亨利三世波旁王朝的幾位君主喜歡更為開敞的空間,因此亨利四世路易十三住在杜樂麗宮的時間較多。

杜伊勒里宫西立面,面向杜伊勒里花园
杜樂麗宮西立面,面向杜伊勒里花園

1624年路易十四下令翻蓋羅浮宮,重建其東立面,但杜樂麗宮未做任何改建。1664年,路易十四命令園林設計師勒諾特(André Le Notre)重新設計了杜伊勒里花園的花壇和桔園。1682年,法國宮廷移往新落成的凡爾賽宮,杜樂麗宮被遺棄,此後100多年間被空置(只有幾次法國國王使用過裡面的王家劇場),其花園則成為巴黎市民喜愛的度假地。

法國大革命爆發後,巴黎的民婦于1789年10月6日集群前往凡爾賽宮請願,隨後將路易十六及其家人挾至巴黎城內,安置於杜樂麗宮。1791年6月20日,路易十六和王后瑪麗·安托瓦內特從宮中出逃,但在邊境被人截獲。1792年8月10日,巴黎發生反君主制的暴動,暴民衝擊宮廷,國王和王后不得不逃至立法會議尋求庇護。9月21日成立國民公會,路易十六王位被廢,法國改制共和。此後不久,由於一名鎖匠的揭發,共和政府在杜樂麗宮內搜出了一處秘密夾室,起獲了國王和王后與奧地利、英國等敵國聯絡的大量秘密信件。此後杜樂麗宮先後被國民公會公安委員會佔用。

1799年霧月政變後,拿破崙宣布杜樂麗宮為第一執政的官邸。1804年拿 破崙稱帝後,杜樂麗宮改稱為皇宮。拿破崙之所以選擇杜樂麗宮而非凡爾賽宮作為自己的皇宮,是因為凡爾賽宮的名字已與波旁王朝君主的窮奢極欲、橫徵暴斂和專 權統治聯繫在一起,懼怕搬入凡爾賽宮會激怒民眾。另外凡爾賽的宮殿建築過於龐大,經過大革命的劫掠和破壞,要恢復其往日的壯麗,在財力和物力上已不可能。

第二帝国时期杜伊勒里宫的晚会,1867年6月10日
第二帝國時期杜樂麗宮的晚會,1867年6月10日

但是,拿破崙在位時期也對杜樂麗宮-羅浮宮建築群進行了擴建,建造了面向里沃利林蔭路的北翼建築,並在由此圍合起來的巨大廣場中修建了古羅馬風格的卡魯索凱旋門(Arc de Triumph du Carrousel),作為杜樂麗宮的正門。1806年拿破崙將柏林布蘭登堡門頂端的銅駟馬車運回法國,曾計劃將其安放于卡魯索凱旋門之上。

拿破崙一世時期,杜樂麗宮的宮殿內部也經過了大規模重新裝修,拿破崙聘請大量建築師和藝術家,對其踵事增華,為宮中添置了許多新傢具、陳設、油畫和壁畫,尤其精心布置了皇后約瑟菲娜·德博阿爾內的大臥室。這一時期的杜樂麗宮成為拿破崙時期「帝國式」裝飾風格的典範。

1812年拿破崙第一次退位後,杜樂麗宮成為復辟的波旁王朝路易十八的王宮。出於與拿破崙同樣的考慮,路易十八也沒有恢復凡爾賽宮的王宮地位。1830年法國七月革命期間,杜樂麗宮第三次遭到巴黎市民的圍攻,查理十世逃往凡爾賽。隨後建立的七月王朝仍以杜樂麗宮為王宮。1848年歐洲革命期間,巴黎市民于2月28日第四次圍攻了杜樂麗宮,殺死了守衛宮廷的大量瑞士衛隊士兵。

由於杜樂麗宮在1848年革命中遭到搶劫和破壞,革命後建立起的第二共和國愛麗舍宮定為總統府,但是1851年路易·波拿巴發動政變、改共和為帝制並自稱拿破崙三世後,杜樂麗宮再度成為皇宮。

拿破崙三世時期是杜樂麗宮的黃金時期,拿破崙三世對宮殿建築進行了大規模的維修翻建和重新裝修,宮內金碧輝煌,豪華壯觀,經常舉行各種盛大的慶典、典禮、宴會和遊園會。1855年維多利亞女王訪法期間曾下榻于杜樂麗宮中。

拿破崙三世時期,還完成了持續半個世紀之久的杜樂麗宮-羅浮宮建築群擴建工程,在宮前圍起了面積巨大的「拿破崙廣場」。在奧斯曼男爵主持的巴黎城市改建工程中,杜樂麗宮的立面形狀成為巴黎主要幹道旁新建的各主要公共建築、飯店、公寓模仿的對象,這種被稱為「第二帝國式」的建築風格甚至傳到了英國和美洲。

[編輯] 焚毀與拆除

杜伊勒里宫的废墟
杜樂麗宮的廢墟

1870年7月19日普法戰爭爆發,拿破崙三世帶病出征,在色當戰敗被俘,法蘭西第二帝國滅亡。隨後成立的第三共和國面臨內憂外患,1871年3月18日巴黎市民舉行起義,成立巴黎公社

1871年5月23日,法國政府軍攻入巴黎,公社當局見面臨失敗,下令焚毀巴黎的各主要建築,包括杜樂麗宮、羅浮宮、盧森堡宮、巴黎歌劇院、巴黎市政廳、內政部、司法部、王宮(Palais Royal)、以及香榭麗舍大街兩旁的豪華飯店和高級公寓樓,「寧願見其消亡,也不留給敵人」。在這一口號的慫恿下,12名公社社員于23日晚7時攜帶焦油、瀝青和松節油,至杜樂麗宮內縱火。大火燃燒了兩天,至5月25日方被政府軍和巴黎消防隊撲滅,但宮殿建築已被全部焚毀,只剩下外殼。與杜樂麗宮相連的羅浮宮花廊和馬爾贊廊也被公社社員縱火燒毀,但存放有大量藝術珍品的羅浮宮主體建築——卡利庭院奇跡般地倖存下來。

此後11年間,杜樂麗宮的廢墟一直佇立在原址。儘管內部被完全焚毀,但其外立面依然完好,可以復建。事實上,被完全焚毀的巴黎市政廳和羅浮宮側翼等 建築都已在19世紀70年代按原樣重建。但經過反覆權衡,第三共和國政府決定不修復杜樂麗宮,因為這座宮殿已經成為法國君主制和帝制的象徵物。

1882年,法國國民大會決定拆除杜樂麗宮廢墟,並以33000金法郎(約合2005年的13萬美元)的價格將其賣給了一家私人承包商。奧斯曼男爵和其他一些法國建築家、藝術家強烈反對政府的這一決定,稱這是對法國藝術和歷史的犯罪。儘管這樣,杜樂麗宮廢墟還是于1883年9月30日拆除完畢。一些大理石飾件作為紀念品賣給了收藏家。

杜樂麗宮拆除後,原來一直封閉在廣場中的羅浮宮庭院第一次暴露在城市景觀中,並成為巴黎東西歷史軸線的起點。這條軸線起自蘇利庭院,經杜伊勒里花園、協和廣場香榭麗舍大道凱旋門。杜伊勒里花園仍然保持了勒諾設計的原始風貌。

[編輯] 重建杜樂麗宮的可能性

杜伊勒里宫内的一处大厅
杜樂麗宮內的一處大廳
杜伊勒里花园,沿巴黎历史轴线的方向,远处可见协和广场的方尖碑,香榭丽舍大道尽头的凯旋门
杜伊勒里花園,沿巴黎歷史軸線的方向,遠處可見協和廣場的方尖碑,香榭麗舍大道盡頭的凱旋門

2003年, 一部分法國團體和個人提出重建杜樂麗宮的構想。重建的理由之一是羅浮宮前的廣場過於巨大,再加上與其相連的杜伊勒里花園,使得香榭麗舍大街向東的透視空間 消失在雜亂的廣場中,而在1883年之前,杜樂麗宮的壯觀立面是這條透視空間的完美終點。另一點原因是羅浮宮的中軸線與香榭麗舍大道並不在同一條直線上, 而是形成一個夾角,導致視覺上的不對稱(羅浮宮前的玻璃金字塔向左偏),破壞了整體的美感。第三點、也是最實際的原因,是可以利用重建的杜樂麗宮內的龐大 空間作為羅浮宮博物館的新展覽空間。

由於存在大量關於杜樂麗宮內部房間結構、陳設、布置的圖片資料,重建工作面臨的技術困難非常小。同時宮中原始的傢具、油畫和其他陳設物品也保存完好。這些物品在1870年普法戰爭開始後不久就從宮中運出,以防遭受戰爭破壞,如今仍堆放在羅浮宮的地下庫房之中。

重建杜樂麗宮的費用初步估算為3億歐元,可以由公眾籌措,建設工作可以由法國政府指定的私人基金會承擔。從2003年起,法國媒體對這一構想進行了大量報導。如果該項目獲得通過,將是20世紀初以來巴黎最大公共建設工程之一。

[編輯] 參見

[編輯] 外部連結

2008年8月30日 星期六

Corsica, France’s Isle of Beauty

From the first day of his wedding trip to Ajaccio in Corsica, Matisse realized that he had found his spiritual home: the south, with its heat, color, and clear light. For years he worked unceasingly toward the style by which we know him now. But in 1902, just as he was on the point of achieving his goals as a painter, he suddenly left Paris with his family for the hometown he detested, and returned to the somber, muted palette he had so recently discarded.
The Unknown Matisse
A Life of Henri Matisse: The Early Years, 1869-1908
Written by Hilary Spurling

Corsica, France’s Isle of Beauty

Ed Alcock for The New York Times

Immersed in the sea off Bonifacio, in southern Corsica.


Published: August 31, 2008

THE train is hardly anything to write home about, not with its three rusted and creaky cars and with seats as hard as church pews. But 20 minutes into the journey from Ajaccio, Corsica’s largest coastal city, to Corte, in the island’s rugged outback, a certain alchemy begins to take place.

The smells of palm trees and Mediterranean winds give way to odors of pine forest and damp vegetation. Twenty minutes more and you’re clattering upward past plunging ravines and snow-capped mountain ranges that look transposed from Ansel Adams photos. Red-roofed mountain villages, ruined stone huts, and lightning-blasted trees thunder past and vanish behind. All that’s missing is a Corsican Wordsworth to distill these natural wonders into verse.

Almost all the passengers — among them Italian cyclists, Dutch trekkers and my own astonished self — press their faces to the dirty glass, muttering superlatives and wondering what will materialize around the next bend. Our words come rushing out in multiple languages — “Bello!” “Mooi!” “Holy crud!” — with each phrase expressing the same sense of awe.

In a way, our band of travelers is just conforming to history’s pattern. For millennia, visitors have arrived in Corsica only to be blown away by its loveliness. The ancient Greeks sailed into its dazzling turquoise bays and declared the island Kalliste: the Most Beautiful. Henri Matisse strode down a gangplank many centuries later and found a “marvelous land,” where “all is color, all is light.”

These days, French kiosks from Normandy to Nice glow with magazine covers depicting the crescent-shaped sandy beaches, jagged ranges, Roman ruins and pastel-hued port towns that give Corsica its modern nickname, L’Île de Beauté: the Isle of Beauty.

But while Corsica fires near-religious worship in France and its European neighbors, it remains terra incognita for us Americans. Of the more than three million United States residents who annually fly into France, barely 6,000 wind up spending a night on this entrancing compact island roughly the size of New Hampshire, according to the Maison de France, the French government’s tourism office.

Earlier this summer, I decided to add one more number to that statistic.

THE train empties us in the mountain redoubt of Corte (pronounced core-TAY). A palpable Corsican pride suffuses the town. Shop windows beckon with traditional local delicacies — ropes of sausage, wedges of cheese, bottles of honey, casks of local wine — and the cafes are filled with groups of old men chatting in the native Corsican language. More than a few of the town’s walls drip with graffiti shouting slogans for Corsican independence.

“For Corsicans, Corte is symbolic of our identity, the place that was least altered by outsiders,” says Jean-Marc Olivesi, the director of Corsica’s museums. He’s in town to plan a big 2009 exhibition on the island’s most famous native, Napoleon Bonaparte, to be held in the town’s Musée de la Corse. “The coastal towns” — Calvi, Ajaccio, Bastia, Bonifacio, Porto-Vecchio — “have a history wrapped up with Genoa or with France,” the two powers that successively controlled Corsica for the last several hundred years, Mr. Olivesi explains.

As a result, Corte was named capital of Corsica during the island’s lone flicker of independence from the Genoese republic, from 1755 to 1769. The leader of the independence campaign, Pascal Paoli, is a local deity. His name adorns the university, the main street and even the sweet shop on the main square — as well as the square itself. In its center he lives on in statue form, a well-dressed Enlightenment gentleman with an intense gaze.

At night I file into the 17th-century Church of Ste.-Croix for a performance by Voce Ventu, one of the many groups around Corsica that is resurrecting the island’s Old World polyphonic singing style. Half the town seems to be there: stooped grandmothers, young families, local collegians and sweaty foreign travelers fresh from trekking. Five black-clad men and some accompanying musicians take positions before the altar.

“This song is an homage,” says the group’s leader, a tall bald fellow named Frédéric Poggi.

It’s a Corsican-language number called “Si Mai Imparaghju à Esse Chjucu,” which translates roughly as “Henceforth I Must Learn to Be Small.” It begins with a lone voice, soon joined by a second, a third, and then the rest, conjuring a fluid and shifting vocal chord. The minor-key melody is somewhere between a Gregorian chant and a folk ballad, with voices rising and falling, drifting in and dropping out.

More songs follow — sprightly reels, sea-chantey-like rounds. When the concert ends and the spirited applause finally dissipates, Mr. Poggi explains the homage from the opening song.

“It’s about Corsica itself,” he says as the spectators flow out the church’s open doors. Beyond them, moonlight glows on the mountains.

“We are only a small part of this Earth,” he continues, translating the lyrics from Corsican to French. “But we are still a very proud part of this Earth.”

IF possible, approaching the southern town of Bonifacio by sea is even more staggering than arriving in Corte by rail. Immense chalk-white cliffs, horizontally grooved like a geological millefeuille, dwarf our sightseeing boat as it cuts through water the color of Curacao liqueur. At sea level, enormous grottoes open darkly in the cliff walls, revealing candle-drip stalactites. Wind-eroded rock formations, some as large as Manhattan apartment buildings, sprout mysteriously from the sea.

It’s said that Ulysses and his men took shelter in Bonifacio’s cliff-lined port, encountering a race of giants. Thousands of years later, Bonifacio is again drawing famous folks and larger-than-life characters — mainly celebrities and corporate titans. For the mellower segment of the boldface crowd, southern Corsica has lately emerged as a discreet alternative to the South of France.

“In Corsica, you have none of the artificiality of the Côte d’Azur,” says Patrice Arend, proprietor of a nautical antiques store, Mer et Découvertes, set in the shadow of Bonifacio’s centuries-old citadel, who, while praising the authenticity of the area is also quick to mention that Sting has been a customer, and that a few years ago he ran into Bill Gates just outside. “A lot of famous people come here, but they come so that they can be incognito.”

Sail east from Bonifacio and you’ll tack past the Golfe de Sperone, a seaside golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones and containing private villas created by the likes of Norman Foster. It’s the kind of place where golfers might actually try deliberately to hit their balls into the water, just for an excuse to plunge into the dazzling sea.

Continuing on, you’ll glimpse the Île de Cavallo, a secluded island community known quaintly in the French press as the Isle of Billionaires. Finally you can pull up directly to the opulent Casa del Mar hotel in the glitzy town of Porto-Vecchio — the only hotel in Corsica with a dedicated yacht mooring. Designed by Jean-François Bodin, known for his addition to the Matisse Museum in Nice, the five-year-old hotel has quickly generated big buzz and attracted folks like Giorgio Armani and Marc Jacobs to its Michelin-starred restaurant and lush grounds.

As evening descends on Porto-Vecchio, I slip into the village’s old streets and watch the village transform into Corsica’s night-life mecca. Bronzed from Santa Giulia and Palombaggia — the area’s Tahitiesque beaches — crowds in white linen pop into art galleries and gelato parlors. On cafe terraces, glasses fill with rosé from the nearby Domaine de Torraccia vineyard and Corsican Pietra beer, flavored with chestnut. Air kisses flutter like fireflies — “Ciao!” “Bon soir!” “Hola!” — as an outdoor D.J. spins electro-soul for the dolled-up girls sipping cocktails at Le Patio.

But this is all a mere preamble for La Via Notte, the island’s nocturnal temple. The scale is enormous, bombastic, as if Napoleon himself had ordered it. Seven bars and nearly as many restaurants spread over multiple levels and pavilions. Inside the D.J. booth, three men operate long flashing control panels as if trying to pilot a spaceship. Go-go dancers grind on platforms as streaks of laser light shoot past. A swimming pool glimmers in the distance.

“We have the largest capacity in Europe,” says the owner, Henry Bastelica, estimating the floor space at around 20,000 square feet. “About 4,000 people can party here.”

To woo them, the club flies in big names from the international D.J. circuit, including Roger Sanchez, Dirty Soundsystem and Erick Morillo. (“He flies in a private plane ... and costs 40,000 euros,” says Mr. Bastelica of Mr. Morillo). The vast V.I.P. area, he adds, has served the designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, the supermodel Laetitia Casta, the soccer star Zinédine Zidane and “all the biggest French actors.”

But Mr. Bastelica is quick to crush any comparisons with France’s flashier resorts.

“Celebrities go to St.-Tropez and get snapped to death by paparazzi,” he says with a disdainful shake of the head. “Here no one will bother them. Here they don’t even need a bodyguard.”

Far to the north, on the opposite side of the island, the medieval hilltop citadel of Calvi shoots up from the sea like a Mediterranean answer to Mont St.-Michel. But its warren of cobbled lanes feels more like Kafka’s castle. Around every bend lurk exiles, explorers, renegades and castaways from the pages of history.

In one passage I chance across an old house that some believe was the real birthplace of Christopher Columbus, who is conventionally assumed to have been Spanish. (Admittedly, records of the navigator’s origins are filled with more question marks than a game of “Jeopardy.”) Tucked away nearby is a small building where Napoleon lived in hiding from Corsican nationalists during the French Revolution.

A third small street reveals Chez Tao, a nightclub founded decades ago by a foreign Russian military officer named Tao Kerekoff. Buffeted by a different insurrection — the Russian Revolution — Kerekoff fled to New York. There he met Prince Feliz Yusupov, one of the conspirators against Rasputin, who persuaded Kerekoff to go to Calvi. He opened his namesake night spot in 1935, and it still fills nightly with stylish seasonal refugees from Paris, London and the Continent’s other capitals.

A cavern in the citadel hillside turns out to be a museum for the French Foreign Legion, which maintains a base outside Calvi. Amid mannequins in paratrooper outfits, exhibitions detail the history of this shadowy branch of the French military, once known for accepting recruits of any background from any country, no questions asked.

Under the watchful eyes of two ultra-buffed soldiers, curious visitors mull over the curious souvenirs on sale. If you bought them all, you could lie on a Foreign Legion beach towel, read a book of Foreign Legion Christmas tales and fill your Foreign Legion mug with Foreign Legion “Esprit de Corps” 2007 rosé, whose label depicts violently charging troops firing weapons.

“You have to drink it all at once,” says one of the soldiers with a laugh as he makes a chugging gesture. His French has a Russian or Eastern European accent, and his arms are a gallery of menacing tattoos. “Otherwise it’s not so good.”

The rosé at the glamorous Octopussy beach club, however, is getting abundant respect as an afternoon party crowd celebrates Calvi on the Rocks, a multiday festival of independent and electronic music that’s held every July. Along with two other international events — June’s Calvi Jazz festival and September’s Rencontres Polyphoniques, which focuses on vocal music — Calvi on the Rocks has helped make the town into the island’s most exciting musical destination.

Like a pied piper in sunglasses and headphones, an American D.J. named Mandy Coon is inspiring scores of swimwear-clad bodies to abandon their plush sun beds and gyrate to her mix. Surrounded by so much Arcadian eye-candy — the citadel, the translucent turquoise sea, an adjacent range of snow-capped mountains — she’s performing a minor miracle just by successfully competing for the crowd’s attention.

Lounging nearby in Octopussy’s restaurant, James Murphy, frontman of the popular indie band LCD Soundsystem, awaits his imminent turn as D.J. and surveys the postcard-perfect view behind Ms. Coon — who happens to be his wife.

“Calvi is possibly the most beautiful place on the planet,” he muses, recalling that his band was first invited to Calvi on the Rocks in 2005. He found the surroundings so “incredible” that he vowed to return every year.

“I’ve been to some really beautiful places,” Mr. Murphy continues, as dance music echoes down the beach. “But something about this place — the combination of how close the mountains are to the sea, and how clear the water is — is really magical.”

THE PLANE TO THE TRAIN TO THE MOUNTAINS TO THE BEACH

GETTING THERE

Air France offers abundant one-stop itineraries from New York to Corsica’s four main airports — Ajaccio, Bastia, Calvi and Figari (the closest to Bonifacio and Porto-Vecchio) — with a connection through either Paris, Lyon, Nice or Marseille. A recent online search found September fares from Kennedy Airport to either Calvi or Figari from $1,205.

GETTING AROUND

Renting a car is by far the simplest option in Corsica. Public transportation between towns and regions is scant, and the seaside and mountain views make driving a pleasure (though small, twisting two-lane roads, typically without guardrails, are the norm). All of the above airports have an outlet of Europcar (www.europcar.com).

For nondrivers, the Corsica rail system (www.ter-sncf.com/corse) connects northern towns (Ajaccio, Corte, Calvi and Bastia) but doesn’t access the southern part of the island (Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio), and there are only two to four trains a day, depending on the season. The best official online schedule (French only) is at www.trainstouristiques-ter.com. (Note that "TLJ" means "Every Day" in French.)

Eurocorse Voyages (33-4-95-71-24 64; www.eurocorse.com) offers a few buses a day between the towns of Porto Vecchio, Bonifacio, Ajaccio and Corte. For schedules, click "Prestations" on the Web site.

WHERE TO STAY, EAT, SHOP AND PARTY

A number of businesses in Corsica close outside of the main tourist season, which lasts more or less from April until October. It’s always best to verify in advance whether hotels, restaurants, shops, etc., will be open.

CALVI Located in the town center, the three-star Hotel Saint Cristophe (Place Bel’Ombra; 33-4-95-65-05-74; www.saintchristophecalvi.com) is a stone’s throw from both the citadel and the bustling port. Doubles are 98 to 165 euros, about $150 to $252 at $1.53 to the euro. For fashionable beachside dining, the white villalike Octopussy restaurant (Pinede Plage; 33-4-95-65-23-16) does jazzy riffs on Corsican ingredients, like Cap Corse mussels in muscat wine and saffron (14 euros) and fois gras with myrtle (16.50 euros). During the wee hours, the old and eternally hip nightclub Chez Tao (33-4-95-65-00-73; www.cheztao.com) offers drinks, dancing and views from its citadel perch.

CORTE It’s a bit spartan and showing its age, but the venerable 60-room Hôtel de la Paix (Avenue du Général de Gaulle; 33-4-95-46-06-72; socoget@wanadoo.fr) is still the best deal in town, with doubles from 54 euros. To take a crash course in the history and cultural traditions of Corsica, visit the Musée de la Corse (Citadel; 33-4-95-45-25-45; www.musee-corse.com). Admission 5.30 euros. Classic Corsican wines and foods — cured meats, honeys, cheeses — are on sale at La Vieille Cave (2, ruelle de la Fontaine; 33-4-95-46-33-79), while the terrace restaurant U San Teofalu (3, place Paoli; 33-6-73-06-35-58) does a three-course Corsican menu at 16 euros that includes a charcuterie and cheese plate, grilled trout and dessert.

BONIFACIO Overlooking the town’s dramatic harbor and restaurant-filled quays, the simple but clean and cozy hotel La Caravelle (35-37, quai Comparetti; 33-4-95-73-00-03; www.hotel-caravelle-corse.com) offers doubles from 97 euros. To view the spectacular cliffs and grottoes nearby, several sightseeing boats have kiosks along Bonifacio harbor, including Gina (33-4-95-23-24-18) and Corsaire (33-6-23-25-14-60). Most offer one-hour tours with departures throughout the day. Most charge 17.50 euros for adults. For maritime antiques, the cavelike Mer et Découvertes (19, montée Rastello; 33-4-95-73-54-39; www.meretdecouvertes.com) is a trove of centuries-old globes, maps and nautical equipment. Outfitted with white tablecloths and candles, the elegant harborside restaurant Le Voilier (Quai Comparetti; 33-4-95-73-07-06) serves a three-course daily menu (37 euros) that includes fish soup (or fish of the day) followed by lamb or fish, rounded out with sorbet or tiramisù.

PORTO-VECCHIO Whether you arrive by helicopter, megayacht or simple automobile, the five-year-old Casa del Mar (Route de Palombaggia; 33-4-95-72-34-34; www.casadelmar.fr) is outfitted to receive you. The white and airy hotel, which has a Carita spa and Michelin-starred restaurant on its lush grounds, offers doubles from 350 euros. Another high-end meal awaits at Le Troubadour (13, rue du Général Leclerc; 33-4-95-70-08-62), where Julien Marseault concocts dishes like Mediterranean tuna tartare with lime juice and herb cream (21 euros) and boneless chicken stuffed with spring vegetables in a lemongrass emulsion (22 euros). To sample Porto-Vecchio’s noted night life, start the party at Le Patio (2, impasse Ettori; 33-4-95-28-06-99), an outdoor bar with D.J.-spun soul and R&B, before heading to Corsica’s biggest and most famous nightclub, La Via Notte (just south of main village; 33-4-95-72-02-12; www.vianotte.com).

SETH SHERWOOD, based in Paris, is a frequent contributor to the Travel section.

2008年8月29日 星期五

Maulbronn Monastery and Concerts

Maulbronn Monastery as seen from the heavens

Maulbronn Monastery as seen from the heavens



"Location, location, location" would be a fitting motto for the Maulbronn Monastery Concerts, where the spirit of "ora et labora" (prayer and work) has a palpable effect on audiences and musicians.

Hermann Hesse, the most popular German author of modern times, concerned himself in many of his books with the power of art. It’s impossible not to think of Hesse, who as a student spent some time at Maulbronn Monastery, while listening to music played under the stone arches of this austere former dining hall for lay monks.

Performed by the Offenburg String Trio and Stefan Schilli (oboe) at Maulbronn Monastery on July 15, 2007 and recorded by DeutschlandRadio Kultur, Berlin (DLR):

  • Jean Francaix (1912-1997): Quartet for English horn and string trio (1971)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1945-1791): Quartet in F Major for oboe and string trio, K. 370 (1781)

Performed by the Offenburg String Trio on 07985 BM-CD 31.9185:

  • Jean Cras (1879-1932): Trio for Violin, Viola and Cello (excerpt)

Rebroadcasting Rights: one broadcast no later than September 29, 2008


Maulbronn Abbey (German: Kloster Maulbronn) is the best preserved medieval Cistercian monastery complex in Europe. It is situated on the outskirts of Maulbronn, Baden-Württemberg, Germany and is separated from the town by fortifications.

The monastery was founded in 1147 under the auspices of the first Cistercian pope, Eugenius III. The main church, built in a style transitional from Romanesque to Gothic, was consecrated in 1178 by Arnold, Bishop of Speyer. A number of other buildings — infirmary, refectory, cellar, auditorium, porch, south cloister, hall, another refectory, forge, inn, cooperage, mill, and chapel — followed in the course of the 13th century. The west, east and north cloisters date back to the 14th century, as do most fortifications and the fountain house.

After the Reformation broke out, the Duke of Württemberg seized the monastery in 1504 and built his hunting lodge and stables there. Half a century later, the former abbey was given over to a Protestant seminary, currently known as the Evangelical Seminaries of Maulbronn and Blaubeuren, which has occupied it ever since. The Protestant clerics adapted the monastic buildings for their own needs, e.g., they rebuilt the refectory.大餐廳

The monastery, which features prominently in Hermann Hesse's novel Beneath the Wheel, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The justification for the inscription was as follows: "The Maulbronn complex is the most complete survival of a Cistercian monastic establishment in Europe, in particular because of the survival of its extensive water-management system of reservoirs and channels".

毛爾布龍修道院原為西妥教團修道院(Zisterzienserabtei)前身,位於德國巴登-符騰堡邦,接近普福爾茨海姆。毛爾布龍的外圍,雷山西北方,為黑森林與歐登森林的交界處。修道院是阿爾卑斯山北面所存留保存最好的中世紀修道院群,皆是從羅馬式到後歌德式建築的形式潮流與發展過程代表。

整個修道院群由封閉的城牆包圍,其中包括毛爾布龍市政廳,警局,餐廳,九到十年級的福音派大學預校(文理中學)與其他公家機關等。從1993年十二月起為聯合國教科文組織列為世界文化遺產


Insight | 30.08.2008 | 04:30

Unesco World Heritage Sites: The monastery in Maulbronn

Founded in the middle of the 12th century, the monastery and medieval village of Maulbronn, near Stuttgart in south-west Germany, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

Maulbronn is a Unesco World Heritage Site of outstanding architecture, capturing a time of transition from Romanesque to early Gothic styles. After nearly 400 years as a Roman Catholic monastery, Maulbronn became a Protestant seminary and boarding school, hosting a long list of famous students. It’s therefore a site of important religious, architectural and cultural significance.

Report: Geoff Rodoreda



2008年8月23日 星期六

The streetcars LA 1911

« June 11, 1938 | Main | June 12, 1908 »

The streetcars


1911_main_street_1972_0123_street_2

Photograph by the Los Angeles Times, 1911
Dropcap_i_1886_2 seem to have antagonized some people by having the audacity to question the notion that Los Angeles' streetcar system was anything less than a shining glory and by poking fun of the idea that it was the victim of a shadowy cabal (think wheels within wheels of corruption). In Los Angeles, this is, of course, heresy of the worst sort. (And here are the results of a Google search for cabal, shadowy, conspiracy, streetcars, "Los Angeles")
1911_main_streetcars_detail_2
1911_0818_streetcars_zip


OK, let's go reality. Above, here's a photo of the Los Angeles streetcar system on Main Street in 1911, with a detail at left. Note how the streetcars are flowing with clocklike efficiency. Notice that the streetcars aren't backed up at the intersection. Yes, the wonderful old streetcars are gliding along the shimmering tracks, whisking passengers to their destinations quickly and safely without a care in the world. (It's a bit difficult to tell from the photo, but I believe these are the "Huntington Standard" cars of 1902).

Don't take my word for it, read The Times editorial (Aug. 19, 1911) at left about the wonders of the city's streetcar system.

Let me quote a bit of it:

"Each car clings tenaciously to its overhead wire, waiting like a sailing vessel in the doldrums to catch some favoring breeze; "as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean." Once in a while a barnacle is detached and creeps painfully and laboriously from its resting place on the corner of 2nd and Main to another snug berth prepared for it between 2nd and 3rd. Then the great calm returns, the delicious peace of eventide settles again on the motorman and the conductor. The yellow and red dragon wags its tail and goes to sleep once more."

Don't get me wrong. I support mass transit and I use the Red/Purple Line almost daily. But history shows that congested traffic in Los Angeles is a century old and that the city's streetcar system was problematic at best.

Email me

2008年8月22日 星期五

为人知的中国音乐

dian 鲜为人知的中国音乐

FT中文网特约撰稿人林剑:2008上海世界音乐周上,中国的侗族大歌及华阴老腔,意外地受到了各方的赞誉。
鲜为人知的中国音乐
英国《金融时报》中文网特约撰稿人林剑
2008年8月22日 星期五

了北京奥运会上展示的中国画、京剧、武术、书法、兵马俑,中国还能拿什么文化给世界看?而奥运之后,中国承办的又一大国际盛会——上海世博会,会给出不一样的答案。

今年5月,由上海世博会事务协调局主办的“放歌世博·2008上海世界音乐周”在上海举办,10支来自世界各地的民族音乐表演团队共同演绎“世界音 乐”(World Music)。其实,“世界音乐”算不得是正经的音乐分类学名词,只是唱片协会拿来帮助营销和推广“去西方中心主义”音乐的工具。学界至今有许多反对之 声,认为这个概念把西方音乐和非西方音乐放在了对立的位置上,政治不太正确。然而,邓小平说得好“不管是黑猫还是白猫,抓到耗子的就是好猫”。自从这个概 念诞生以后,确实有更多来自“亚非拉”的音乐人走向了世界的舞台,许多以往不为人知的传统文化也借此获得了全人类的认知。再加上联合国教科文组织梳理“人 类口头与非物质遗产代表作”,更从官方渠道使得不少濒临灭绝的传统文化获得了保护。

2008上海世界音乐周也是一场“亚非拉”的聚会,无论是布隆迪的鼓乐,伊朗的传统风笛,图瓦共和国的呼麦绝技,还是来自中国的侗族大歌以及华阴老腔,每个表演团队纯粹而原始的音乐,当然迥异于中国人所熟悉的“东方歌舞团”,却意外受到了各方面的赞誉。



把世界的声音请到中国来,让早就习惯了聆听西方的耳朵真正听到“亚非拉”的绝妙韵律,本身便已是大功一件,更重要的是,中国的民间音乐人也能在同一 个舞台上与世界对话。中国的“世界音乐”向来没能大规模地走向过世界。西方唱片店庞大的“世界音乐”空间里,中国人的音乐只有琵琶、二胡或者“我爱你塞北 的雪”,即便是成果颇丰的西藏佛教音乐,也并没有贴上“中国”的标签。这些年,何训田和朱哲琴的搭档为世界贡献了不少来自中国的声音,可还是太少太少。影 响巨大的WOMAD等世界音乐节上也绝少看到中国音乐人的身影。在这次的2008上海世界音乐周上,中国的表演团体和海外的表演团体对半开,虽然舞台上的 自信程度不如表演经验丰富的“海外军团”,但至少跨出了参与商业演出的第一步。然而这只是上海世博会全面启动世界音乐项目的序幕。

2010上海世博会期间,将在世博园内兴建一个可容纳3000人的户外“世界音乐广场”。在世博会举办的184天里,天天上演来自世界各地与中国的 民间音乐。2008上海世界音乐周的举办,给了主办方许多信心。刚开始各方各面,还以为世界音乐表演团体都是“草台班子”,经过一周的实践后,大家方才明 白这些陌生的声音具有极富感染力的沟通能力。尤其是面对“这么远,那么近”的中国民间音乐,迥异于那些常在各式晚会上听到的传统民乐或是“新民乐”,即便 是中国人也赞叹不已。

早些时日,“第一帝国——秦始皇兵马俑”展和“中国现在——当代中国设计展”在伦敦轮番上演。用英国文化协会首席执行官戴维信的话来说:“我们不仅 仅想了解中国在1世纪这些艺术的遗产,我们还想看到中国的艺术家在21世纪正在从事什么样的工作。”让西方了解中国,需要提供多元的选择。“世界音乐”在 中国受到的重视,将让世界看到一个更为多元而奇诡的中国,不仅仅是京剧、武术、书法、兵马俑和大熊猫。

《生活时尚》

Bend of the Boyne

Insight | 23.08.2008 | 04:30

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The Bend of the Boyne in Ireland

The area known as the "Bend of the Boyne" -- or "Brú na Bóinne" -- in Irish, is a multi-layered landscape that has many stories to tell.

The "Bend of the Boyne" has known human habitation since pre-historic times. When Unesco declared the Bend of the Boyne a World Heritage Site it affirmed the international importance of its passage tomb cultures and prehistoric burial rites. It is not just Newgrange, the best known of the more than 40 tombs discovered there, but the entire area that has been designated. For many this region, about one hour by train from Ireland’s capital Dublin, is the cradle of Irish history – home of its first recorded settlements – a place of refuge from Viking raiders – a holy place to early Christians and the battleground that determined the balance of power in Europe at the Battle of the Boyne. All this and more is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site.

Archeological Ensemble of
the Bend of the Boyne (1993)
Ireland

Back to index

The three main prehistoric sites of the Brú na Bóinne Complex, Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth, are situated on the north bank of the River Boyne 50 km north of Dublin. This is Europe's largest and most important concentration of prehistoric megalithic art. The monuments there had social, economic, religious and funerary functions.

Ireland 1983. Europa stamp. World Cultural Heritage. Neolithic pattern in the Newgrange burial place. Winter Solstice. Eire 1996. World Cultural Heritage. Excavations in Brú na Bóinne (Bend of the Boyne). St. Vincent of the Grenadines 1996. 50th Anniversary of the UNESCO. Archaeological site of Bend of the Boyne.
  • Eire 1983. Europa stamp. Neolithic pattern in the Newgrange burial place, depicting Winter Solstice. The find dates from 3.000 BC.
  • Eire 1996. The excavations in Brú na Bóinne (Bend of the Boyne).
  • St. Vincent of the Grenadines 1996. 50th Anniversary of the UNESCO. Archaeological site of Bend of the Boyne. The stamp is digitally cut out from a souvenir sheet containing eight different stamps dedicated to World Heritage. Click here to see the full sheet. The link will open in a new window. The stamp is located in the second row, far left. Scan by courtesy of Miomir Zivkovic (Serbia).

Links:

Petra

Spotlight

Petra's Treasury (Khazneh)
Petra's Treasury (Khazneh)
In present-day Jordan, Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt came upon the ancient city of Petra, on this date in 1812. Petra, the capital of the Nabataeans from the 4th century BCE until the Romans captured it in 106, was taken by the Muslims in the 7th century and by the Crusaders in the 12th century. Referred to by John William Burgon as a "rose red city half as old as time," Petra was walled in by rock mountains, yet controlled the main trade routes in the area. In 1985, Petra was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site; in 2007, it was named one of New Open World Corporation's New Seven Wonders of the World.

Quote

"A land without ruins is a land without memories; a land without memories is a land without history."Abram Joseph Ryan

2008年8月19日 星期二

Liverpool

我有點奇怪今年是 Liverpool 建城800周年 歐洲文化首都之一

Stavanger shares the European Culture Capital title with Liverpool this year
2月前BBC的 Reith Lectures 第2 場也在這兒舉行 English Lessons-- BBC's Reith Lecturer 2008hc翻譯過部分說詞
不過此blog竟然沒它
現在補充一下

Joseph Wright

2008年8月18日 星期一

Problems at Germany's Asse II Nuclear Waste Repository

Spectrum | 19.08.2008 | 04:30

Problems at Germany's Asse II Nuclear Waste Repository

A former salt mine in the German state of Lower Saxony is giving authorities and local residents cause for alarm.

In 1965 the Asse-II mine was turned into a temporary storage and research facility for nuclear waste. As the development of nuclear energy boomed, the 1000-metre-deep mine became a permanent disposal site for nuclear material. Between 1967 to 1978, hundreds of thousands of barrels of radioactive waste were disposed in the mine and remain there today. In June this year, news broke that brine, known to be leaking from the mine since 1988, is radioactive – at some eight times above safe levels. As Leah McDonnell reports, poor maintenance also means the mine is unstable and in danger of collapsing.

2008年8月14日 星期四

The temple Preah Vihear

Dialogue | 15.08.2008 | 05:30

Buddhist Temple Sparks Dispute in Southeast Asia

Buddhists the world over take their temples very seriously. But in Cambodia and Thailand, one temple is at the center of a potentially violent dispute.

Temples built a thousand years ago under the Khmer Kings are drawing tourists from around the world to Cambodia. Places like Angkor Wat or Preah Kann both impress and astound tourists. But they are also the root of many conflicts. Five years ago for example, Cambodian media reported that Thailand allegedly claimed the temples of Ankor Wat belonged to Thailand. As a result, agitated Cambodians burnt down the Thai embassy in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Recently tensions have been running high again. The temple Preah Vihear which is situated on disputed territory on the border between the two countries has been the catalyst for further disputes with even military action threatened.

Report: Bernd Musch-Borowska / Susan Houlton

The Young Man and the Lakes

The Young Man and the Lakes

By JOHN J. MILLER
August 14, 2008; Page D7

Seney, Mich.

When Ernest Hemingway was a young writer in the 1920s, he pinned a map of northern Michigan to the wall of his room in Paris. It probably came in handy as he wrote his first batch of short stories. Although he was born and raised in Oak Park, Ill., Hemingway spent the summers of his boyhood in the woods and lakes of what Michiganders call "Up North." They provide the settings for most of his early tales.

[photo]
The Granger Collection
Ernest Hemingway fishing in Michigan in 1920.

One of these yarns, however, has traditionally puzzled anyone who reads it and then checks a map. "Big Two-Hearted River" is probably Hemingway's first great contribution to literature, an example of nature writing at its finest and perhaps America's best fishing story, especially for readers who remember that Moby Dick didn't have gills.

The narrative begins with Nick Adams, Hemingway's protagonist and alter-ego, having just gotten off the train in Seney, a town in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He hikes into the wilderness and fishes for trout. The problem is that the Two-Hearted River lies about 20 miles north of Seney and flows into Lake Superior. On foot, it's virtually impossible to get there with Nick's apparent speed. The Fox River -- a perfectly good stream for brook trout -- runs right through the town, on its way to Lake Michigan.

Hemingway visited Seney with a couple of friends in 1919. Wouldn't he have just fished the Fox?

On the East Coast, every hamlet that can claim "Washington slept here" eagerly does so, for both patriotic and commercial reasons. In parts of Michigan, there's a Hemingway corollary: He slept here (at the family cottage on Walloon Lake), ate here (at Jesperson's Restaurant in Petoskey), and fished here (lots of places).

Michigan is so proud of its ties to Hemingway that the state humanities council has just wrapped up the Great Michigan Read, a literacy initiative that used "The Nick Adams Stories" as its focal point. For the past year, schools and libraries have sponsored discussion groups, a traveling exhibit, and even a Hemingway look-alike contest.

In Seney, a small historical museum includes a display with the gear Nick is described as having brought on his journey, such as a can of pork and beans and a can of spaghetti that he mixes together for a meal. Last month, the museum acquired a rowboat that Hemingway is said to have used. "Some days we won't get a soul in here, and the next day we might get 15," says Candace Blume, the curator.

In a letter to Gertrude Stein, Hemingway described "Big Two-Hearted River" as a story in which "nothing happens." Nick Adams walks out of Seney, makes camp, and goes fishing. Beneath this mundane surface, however, swims a potent personal drama.

Something bothers Nick. The text doesn't say what. As an author, Hemingway routinely withheld what would seem to be key information; his stories are often exercises in decipherment. A close reading of "Big Two-Hearted River" reveals that Nick's trek into the backwoods of Michigan is about much more than hooking trout.

Hemingway was famous for short declarative sentences, and "Big Two-Hearted River" is full of them: "It had been a hard trip. He was very tired. That was done. He had made his camp. He was settled. Nothing could touch him. It was a good place to camp. He was there, in the good place. He was in his home where he had made it."

Nothing could touch him? The good place? Clearly, Nick has issues.

The standard interpretation is that Nick is a shell-shocked military veteran who has returned from the grinding combat of World War I. Kenneth Lynn, one of Hemingway's biographers, has suggested that the author was disturbed by a quarrel with his mother.

The ultimate source of Nick's troubles hardly matters. The interest lies in how he tries to tame them through ritualistic activities: Step by step, Hemingway portrays him pitching a tent, brewing coffee, and collecting grasshoppers for bait.

Anyone who wants to discover precisely where Nick went fishing won't find a conclusive answer in "Big Two-Hearted River." In Seney, however, Don Reed is happy to help with a few ideas. He's the township supervisor and owner of the Fox River Motel. About once a week during the summer, he says, someone calls or drops by and wants to fish where Hemingway did.

"Trout fishermen don't like to reveal their best spots," he says. "Maybe that's why Hemingway named his story after the Two-Hearted. Everyone around here knows he fished the Fox."

That's the local lore. The truth is that in 1919 Hemingway didn't need a fishing license -- and years later he confessed to using literary license: "The change of name was made purposely, not from ignorance or carelessness but because Big Two-Hearted River is poetry."

Opinions still vary about whether he fished the Fox itself, a swampy branch to the east, or both. "All we can do is approximate," says Mr. Reed.

Hemingway once boasted that on his actual trip to Seney, he and his friends reeled in 200 trout. It would be tough to repeat their catch today, given Michigan's daily limit of five keepers. Yet the fishing may have improved: The riverbanks continue to recover from an era of mass logging, and new tree canopies shade the water. The planet may be warming, but the Fox is possibly cooling -- and trout prefer cool water.

Almost a century later, Hemingway's good place arguably has become a better place. Just don't expect a trout fisherman to tell you that.

Mr. Miller writes for National Review.

2008年8月13日 星期三

奧運公園人煙少 大讚助商遭冷落

奧運公園人煙少 大讚助商遭冷落

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國的確是個人口大國,但在北京的奧林匹克公園,你卻感受不到這一點。

一些主要奧運讚助商在這裡投入了數百萬美元,在公園內設計精美的廣告亭布展宣傳自己的品牌。但他們現在很鬱悶,因為進入這個奧運焦點區域及大部分比賽所在區域的觀眾人數受到了嚴格限制。

Getty Images
交換奧運徽章的人都無法進入奧林匹克
公園。
北京奧運官員出於安全考慮,已勸離了大量持有遊覽票希望參觀奧林匹克公園的遊人。一般來說,只有持有奧林匹克公園內運動場館比賽門票的人才被允許進入公園。

像聯想(Lenovo)、三星(Samsung)、阿迪達斯(Adidas)、可口可樂(Coca-Cola)等讚助商都設立了精心制作的企業歷史宣傳展板,並配以霓虹燈、巨幅電視屏幕和音樂設備。

但關注這裡的人卻人數不多,即使在周二晚上8點比賽正酣的時候也是如此。可口可樂展台外面站著一小隊人,幹冰和蘇打泡發出滋滋作響的聲音。與此同時,麥當勞在園內開設的大型餐廳也遠非滿座。

奧林匹克公園佔地遼闊,四周簇擁著“鳥巢”(國家體育館)等諸多比賽場館;遊泳、體操、射箭和許多其他項目的比賽均在這裡舉行。正如組織者規劃的,奧林匹克公園面積巨大,是雅典奧林匹克公園的6倍,是紐約中央公園的三倍。

據知情人士透露,幾家頂級讚助商之前預計每天能有200,000名觀眾,而實際人數只有這一預期的20%;遭遇這種情況,這些讚助商超過1.5億美元的投入成本很難收到應有效果。

加拿大人尤金﹒雷默(Eugene Reimer)說,這裡環境很好,卻沒什麼人,簡直太可惜了。隨著在三星廣告亭表演的一只北京搖滾樂隊的音樂,雷默投入地搖擺著身體。他一邊喝著啤酒一邊說,我還以為這裡會很有盛會的氣氛。

位於奧林匹克公園北區的麥當勞餐廳佔地32,528平方英尺,擁有1,015個座位;按規模和座位來看,這是麥當勞全球最大的獨立餐廳。麥當勞上周還期待這家餐廳會迎來巨大客流量,因為它是奧林匹克公園裡唯一的一家餐館。

麥當勞全球營銷副總裁約漢﹒傑佛(Johan Jervoe)周二說,我們對在這裡設立餐廳以及麥當勞品牌在奧運賽事拓展及觀眾中間的地位感到高興。

麥當勞發言人麗薩﹒霍華德(Lisa Howard)說,公司尚未向奧委會要求增加奧林匹克公園的觀眾數量。她不願具體回答有關園內觀眾匱乏的問題。

一些晚間有戶外活動的讚助商(如三星)說,他們對觀眾數感到滿意。同時,大多數讚助商預計,附近的鳥巢周五開始田徑比賽後,觀眾數會繼續增加。

如 果之前就能有更多人當然好,奧運會主要讚助商阿迪達斯(Adidas)發言人卡佳﹒施瑞伯(Katja Schreiber)說,但我們看到觀眾人數正逐漸增加,等本周晚些時候擁有91,000個座位的鳥巢開始田徑比賽後,觀眾人數還會進一步增加。阿迪達斯 在奧林匹克公園裡設有廣告亭。

即便如此,受挫的讚助商一直敦促奧委會官員採取補救措施,他們警告稱,目前這種狀況可能會導致讚助商不願在下屆倫敦奧運會上再掏腰包。

北京奧組委發言人孫偉德承認,的確存在這個問題。他說,我們已經意識到這個問題。我們已經計劃邀請更多人到奧林匹克公園來,我們當然希望有更多人和更多觀眾。但問題之一是,觀眾很難查找如何獲得入場券以及自行車公路賽路線等基本信息。

在 雅典和悉尼等歷屆奧運會期間,奧林匹克公園常常聚集了數千人,充斥著諸多餐廳和現場音樂演出。而在北京,數千人卻只能站在場館周圍和公園的隔離護欄外面, 眼巴巴看著沒法進去。許多交換徽章的人冒著酷暑聚集在出租車載客點旁邊的媒體中心外面進行交換。交換徽章是奧運會的一項很受歡迎的傳統活動,通常是奧林匹 克公園裡的固定項目之一。

問題之一是奧林匹克公園的面積。一些讚助商說,這裡簡直太大了,很難轉個遍。而北京本身也是個巨大的城市,奧運會相關活動和比賽分散在城市各處,沒有那一個地方人們會很集中。

現居北京的喬安妮﹒威特(Joanne Wheater)曾去過悉尼奧運會;她說,悉尼的奧林匹克公園要緊湊的多。她拿出一張北京地圖,指著北京奧林匹克公園所在的區域說,故宮走一圈就要兩個小時,而那裡跟奧林匹克公園比要小多了。

國際奧委會官員說,北京奧委會應在奧運會區域的安全和開放之間找到恰當的平衡點。

國際奧委會發言人吉斯勒﹒戴維斯(Giselle Davies)說,在北京,不止一家公司要求允許更多人進入所謂奧運會公共區域,奧組委也在為此尋找適當途徑,對此我們表示歡迎。

REBECCA BLUMENSTEIN / MEI FONG

2008年8月10日 星期日

Wonders and Whoppers

Wonders and Whoppers

Following in Marco Polo's footsteps through Asia leads our intrepid author to some surprising conclusions

  • By Mike Edwards
  • Smithsonian magazine, July 2008

men with dogs features

Bibliothèque Nationale/ AKG Images

"I tell you," wrote Marco Polo, "that this palace is of... unmeasured wealth." Its roof is sheathed in gold "in such a way as we cover our house with lead." Even the floors are gold, "more indeed than two fingers thick. And all the other parts of the palace and the halls and windows are likewise adorned with gold." In this gilded domain, he declared, lived the ruler of an island kingdom called Cipangu (that is, Japan), whose waters yielded red pearls "very beautiful and round and large."

Scholars believe Europeans had never heard of Cipangu before Polo told them about it in The Description of the World, which he started writing about 1298, a few years after he returned home to Venice from a 24-year Asian odyssey. Though fascinated, Polo's readers, according to one account, concluded that his tales were "fabulous...mere dreams." But as decades passed, some began to take Polo seriously. In Christopher Columbus' copy of The Description, which survives, "gold in the greatest abundance" and "red pearls" are written in the margin beside the Cipangu reports. Although the handwriting may not be Columbus', he is said to have sought Cipangu among the Caribbean isles on his 1492 voyage.

Columbus never came anywhere near Japan, of course, but what would he have found? Red pearls? Experts say the oysters that produce them don't inhabit Japanese waters. A golden palace? Japan's Golden Pavilion, the gold-leaf-covered Kinkakuji, was built in 1397, a century after Polo published.

Truth to tell, many of Marco Polo's tales of treasure were just that—tales. Tall tales. Readers who persevere in Polo's often confusing, disjointed text will encounter preposterous supernatural events and an astonishing bestiary, including men with the features of dogs. Some readers have even concluded that the book is a total fake. If Marco Polo went to China, British Sinologist Frances Wood asked some years ago in a book titled, appropriately enough, Did Marco Polo Go to China?, why did he fail to mention chopsticks, tea and the binding of girls' feet?

At the British Library, where Wood curates the Chinese collections, the switchboard lit up with calls from journalists and scholars. After all, Polo's book has ornamented libraries the world over for centuries and is regarded, despite its flaws, as one of the world's greatest travel accounts. Wood had taken on a global icon. "I knew that Marco Polo was a household name," she told an interviewer, "but I was unaware that millions of people all over the world felt passionately about him and would be baying for blood."

Polo's fellow Italians have long assumed that he was a fibber; both he and his text are known in his homeland by the name Il Milione, and many think it's because the book includes a million tall tales. But didn't Polo enrich Italy by bringing home pasta and ice cream? Nope, those are myths. Still, Italians weren't about to tolerate a challenge to Polo's integrity by a foreigner, and many other people in the world are likewise invested in him. In China, historians staunchly defend the man who helped put their country on the map.

About ten years ago, as a staff writer for National Geographic, I followed Polo's journeys across Asia, from Iraq to China and homeward via Sumatra, India and Sri Lanka, using his book as my guide. (There are about 120 versions of his narrative; the one I carried, generally considered the most authentic, is translated from a 14th-century copy in the French National Library.) Like others who have examined his writings closely, I am dismayed by his omissions and floored by his whoppers. But I am ultimately convinced of his essential truthfulness. Why? For one thing, his itineraries, as laid out by the sequence of book chapters, are fundamentally accurate, whether he's crossing Central Asia or central China. Where did he acquire that geographical information if he didn't make these journeys himself? No skeptical investigator has ever proved that he copied from some Arab or Chinese source. And while it's true that Polo is guilty of curious omissions (those chopsticks, for example), he expanded medieval Europe's meager knowledge of Asia with such hitherto-unknown names as Cipangu, Java, Zanzibar and Ceylon (Sri Lanka), besides identifying China's great cities and describing such features as the Takla Makan Desert and the Yangtze River. Having followed Polo's tracks, I know firsthand that he also got many things right, such as: both lapis lazuli and rubies are found in the Badakhshan region of Afghanistan; in China's southwest a minority people eat raw flesh; people in Sumatra and Sri Lanka make a joy juice from fermented palm tree sap.

Polo also produced an extensive report on Hindu customs in India, a country that clearly fascinated him. But his great love was Catai, as he called China. No kingdom ever had a better PR person. Time and again Polo wrote of Catai's wealth in silk and spices (no exaggeration) and declared that people had "all things in great abundance." So far, so good. But soon he was claiming that Hangzhou had 12,000 bridges arcing over its canals, a ludicrous inflation, even though Hangzhou was the world's largest city at the time; he even accorded the much smaller Suzhou 6,000 bridges. "Take that, Venice!" he seemed to be saying to his canal-rich hometown. (A later traveler could find only 347 bridges in Hangzhou, including those in its suburbs, and just 290 in Suzhou.)

Polo practically bubbled with enthusiasm as he described the palace of Kublai Khan, the Mongol ruler of Catai, in what is today Beijing. (He called the capital Cambaluc, a corruption of its Turkish name, Khanbalikh, "Khan's city.") The palace was "the greatest that ever was seen," with a hall large enough to accommodate 6,000 diners, and was encompassed by a wall four miles around. In some versions of his book, the wall grew even longer, in one case to 32 miles. Mangling his claims according to their own whims, The Description's translators, scribes and finally printers (beginning in 1477) often took his inconstant veracity down a further peg or two.

Whenever Polo mentioned Kublai, he laid it on thick. His hunting retinue, we are told, included 20,000 dog handlers; 10,000 falconers carrying gyrfalcons, peregrines, saker falcons and goshawks (Polo showed himself to be an avid birder); and unstated numbers of lions, leopards and lynxes to go after wild boars and other big animals. Still extolling his overlord—he claimed to have been a trusted servant of Kublai's regime—Polo wrote that the new year was celebrated in Cambaluc with a parade of Kublai's elephants, "which are quite five thousand, all covered with beautiful cloths," and with gifts to the ruler of "more than 100,000 white horses very beautiful and fine."

It's true that Mongol lords reveled in the royal hunt, a huge spectacle, and that they celebrated holidays grandly. And no doubt Kublai, like many Asian potentates, kept stables of elephants as a mark of power—but nothing like 5,000. And historians are confident that he didn't hunt with any 20,000 dog handlers or 10,000 falconers. "The numbers are staggering—they're obviously exaggerated," says Professor Morris Rossabi of the City University of New York, author of the definitive study of Kublai's reign. It is difficult to imagine his people maintaining, for example, a royal herd of 100,000 steeds in the region of Beijing. "People in the north didn't grow enough food to sustain themselves," Rossabi says. "Most of it had to be brought from the south. I can't believe they devoted tremendous amounts of pastureland to having 100,000 horses." Some scribes who copied Polo's text shrank the elephant herd to 500 or omitted it altogether, probably smelling excess, while one version raised it to 105,000.

Still, Polo had plenty of authentic marvels with which to astonish his countrymen—black stones that burned better than wood; money made of paper, porcelain, asbestos; huge oceangoing ships. And he documented China's wealth in silk and spices as well as its commerce with India, Java and other parts of Asia—valuable information for a trading state like Venice.

So why all the hyperbole? We'll never know for sure, but exaggeration is sometimes a character defect in adventurers—Walter Raleigh's gold-strewn El Dorado comes to mind. And in 13th-century Europe, even outright lies were a literary conceit. Grotesque beasts and magical doings were routine in the modest libraries available to even the most educated Europeans. The Histories of Herodotus, for example, told of gold-digging ants in India and winged snakes in Egypt.

I believe Polo kept a journal during his travels; if not, how did he manage, when at last home in Venice, to set down the wealth of detail that he had accumulated during his two dozen years of travel? Polo's diary: what a sensational discovery that would be! He doesn't say he kept one, but a version of The Description that appeared in Venice in the 1500s, supposedly based on authentic manuscripts, declares that he brought home "writings and memoranda." And these, it is said, were shared with a writer who helped him produce his book. That person is identified at the beginning of the text as Rustichello of Pisa, who'd been reworking some of the romantic stories of King Arthur, and whose writings had found their way into European libraries. According to Polo, he met Rustichello in a Genoa prison, into which Polo had been thrown after being captured in a sea battle between Venice and rival Genoa about 1298. Sounds like another tall Polo tale, but so far as scholars know, it's true.

Scholars see the hand of Rustichello in the book's account of a battle between Genghis Khan and Prester John, a Christian ruler in Asia, early in the 13th century. With its huge loss of life—although no body count was recorded—the engagement made a good story. Too bad there was no such person as Prester John; as historians know today, he was entirely a European invention. The legend was no doubt well known to Rustichello, while less so to Polo.

I also suspect Rustichello of concocting the tale of robbers able to "make the whole day become dark" as they swept down upon travelers. Polo described such an attack on his caravan in the desert of Iran. The passage continues, suspiciously, in the third person: "Moreover I tell you that Master Marc himself was as good as taken by that people in that darkness."


Then there are the mangonels, or catapults, Polo writes about. According to the author, Polo, his father and uncle helped build huge rock-hurling machines that inflicted terrible damage on the city of Xiangyang as Kublai pressed his conquest of the southern Chinese dynasty, the Song. Chinese as well as Persian sources describe the destruction, but credit Syrians employed in Kublai's army for the catapults. In any case, the siege occurred in 1273, and almost all authorities believe the Polos didn't reach China until two years later. Polo probably heard of the siege and took note of it. It may be that Rustichello, always attracted to stories of battle, came across it somewhere in his reading and decided to make the Polos military engineers.

Starting home by ship in 1291 or 1292, Polo was forced to spend five months on "Java the Less"—Sumatra—waiting for monsoon winds to shift so that he and his shipmates could sail northwestward toward Ceylon and India. Polo reported, accurately, that cannibals dwelled on Sumatra and, less accurately, that the island was home to some strange beasts, including enormous unicorns, in size "not at all by any means less than an elephant."

"I tell you quite truly," Polo continued about Sumatra, "that there are men who have tails more than a palm in size." And on an island that he called Angaman—probably referring to the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal—"all the men...have the crown of the head like a dog and teeth and eyes like dogs." Tales of strange creatures abounded in Asia as well, and Polo (who apparently never set foot on the Andamans) may have heard about them from sailors. It's also possible that he—or Rustichello—simply drew on the elaborate mythical bestiary of Europe's Middle Ages. (Or perhaps, as John Larner argues in Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World, Polo was simply describing the islanders metaphorically.)

Even as he served up these wild reports, Polo methodically cataloged a South Asian cornucopia, about which Europe knew almost nothing: the nutmeg and aromatic roots of Java, the camphor and coconuts of Sumatra, the pearls, diamonds and pepper of India, ivory from several places—these and many other goods, all tantalizing to European merchants, were commingled with the beasts and fantasies. It's as if the world, as Europeans viewed it, were a mix of real and unreal.

Some readers took notice of things "which are reckoned past all credence," as a Dominican friar recorded. When Polo was dying, in 1324, friends urged him to remove "everything that went beyond the facts," presumably to cleanse his soul.

Polo refused, saying he had not written half of what he had seen. He might have added: "And only half of what Rustichello and I invented."

Mike Edwards covered 6,000 miles in Marco Polo's footsteps.


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