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Notes on the Geography of China: Shanghai:The Bund: Photo 37

world pictures China: Shanghai:The Bund

Another view. (For more on buildings of this era, see Tess Johnston and Deke Erh's A Last Look: Western Architecture in Old Shanghai, 1993.)

All in all, what shall we make of the Bund? It's become so iconic that it generally escapes judgment, but Harold Acton wasn't fooled. "The Bund was a ponderous parody of the palaces which men delight to build along all rivers, along the Thames, the Seine, the Hudson, the Arno. But along the rivers of Europe and along the Hudson, there is something noble about the buildings. The Louvre belongs to the Seine, the Houses of Parliament to the Thames: you may not like the architecture but you have to admit its integrity and a certain splendour. Each is a product of its own civilization; these monuments are habitable by the sort of man who made them: they have personality. But the buildings along the Shanghai Bund do not look man-made: they have little connexion with the people of China; they are poisonous toadstools sprung up from the mud, a long line of pompous toadstools raised by anonymous banks, trusts and commercial firms. Imposing from the river with their turrets and clock-towers, but essentially soulless: no court or government had designed them and given them life. There they stand trying to give materialism importance, but they fail." (Memoirs of an Aesthete, 1948, p. 292.)

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