I’d like to read this book–Tribulations of a Chinaman in China by Jules Verne–but I can’t find an English version. My french isn’t good enough that I can understand anything beyond the first few sentences.
Why I want to read it? Because the Wikipedia article says the hero “rejects seppuku”, and I want to know if this was Jules Verne’s idea of China. The first recorded sighting of a seppuku by the West was only around 10 years ago, so the practice was probably making the rounds in a These-Chineseses-Are-Crazy fad, and I suppose Mr Verne might have just been trying to add some spice to an otherwise bland comedic farce.
(In case there are any non-Asian readers of this blog, I would just like to say that the Chinese do NOT commit seppuku.)
It’s one of my favourite songs, only I heard it first in French, so I looked for an English version. I discovered it came in various languages, including German, sung by one Marlene Dietrich, a famous 60s singer. Here’s a YouTube video of her performance in German:
And the much more hilarious version where she performs it in English. I snorted at every painful phrase and half-expected her to take up a gun to fire on her pink-backdrop-worshipping audience.
I think it’s a cultural stereotype from watching too many movies with evil Germans. A german accent singing about flowers sounds improbably funny.Of course, considering that Ms Dietrich first sang this song as a frontline performer (she was a prominent anti-Nazi) during WW2, I guess singing it in a cutesy grass-snorting-hippy-manner wouldn’t have been very respectful.
In case you’re interested, here’s the original singer (I think he’s playing a ukelele):
As a less funny note, just to (un/re)confirm the existence of my cultural stereotypes, here’s a clip where Ms Dietrich, as Frau Bertholt, educates her friend on the non-complicity of the majority of Germans for the deeds of the Nazis.