017_Lao She Memorial Hall.jpg
중국 Lao She 老舍故居 Memorial Hall  
Beijing, China  

The courtyard home of one of Beijing's best-loved writers (lǎo shě gù jū 老舍故居), Lao She (1899-1966), is the most charming of many converted homes scattered around Beijing'shutong.Despite being granted this home by Zhou Enlai in 1950, the writer refused to become a cheerleader for the regime, and his post-revolution years were remarkably quiet for such a prolific writer. He recently came in at no. 5 in an online survey of "China's leading cultural icons," ahead of pop diva Wang Faye but well behind the no. 1 choice, the iconoclastic writer Lu Xun (lǔ xùn 鲁迅) (who has a memorial hall in the west of town, see chapter 8). Lao She is renowned for the novelRickshaw (Luotuo Xiangzi), a darkly humorous tale of a hardworking rickshaw puller, Happy Boy.

Start in Hall 3, to the right, which records his early years in London, the United States, and Shandong Province. Hall 2 is an attempt to re-create the mood of his original study and sitting room, with his personal library untouched and his desk calendar left open at the day of his disappearance -- August 24, 1966. While the date of his death is certain, the details are murky. The official line has him committing a poetic suicide in nearby Taiping Hu (pictured in Hall 1) after enduring a "struggle session" at Kong Miao. It's possible that he was simply murdered by Red Guards.

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