I just set up a number of web pages for my new book project, The Fury of the Europeans, on the destruction of the Yuanmingyuan in 1860. The pages are here. The idea is to gather all my notes on-line, together with pictures, eyewitness accounts, maps and other primary sources. Eventually my own book chapters will appear here as well. The book will be published by Paradigm Publishers in the U.S. in 2008 (who also publish Charles Tilly, Noam Chomsky and other luminaries).
Strange, I have never seen anyone put live research notes on the web in this way. But it’s very convenient when moving from one library to the other and it’s fun to set up. Perhaps others are afraid of having their stuff ripped off. Well, but as scholars we are also supposed to contribute to the knowledge of society. Besides, publishing the sources give me a great feeling of actually communicating with someone. Communication is what it’s all about in the end.
Yesterday I spent in the special collection reading room at SOAS. It’s great to be back with dusty primary sources again. It’s been years. Yesterday I read an eyewitness account by this Frenchman, Jean-Louis Negroni, who was one of the first to break into the palace. He claims to have saved the emperor’s favourite courtesan, he even claims she kissed him! Anyway he stole a lot of objects which he took with him back to Europe — well, more about him some other time.