Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools
The History of Travel Literature in Imperial China
- PUBLISHED: December 2018
- SUBJECT LISTING: Asian Studies / China, Literary Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 280 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 12 b&w illus.
- ISBN: 9780295744476
First-hand accounts of travel provide windows into places unknown to the reader, or new ways of seeing familiar places. In Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools, the first book-length treatment in English of Chinese travel literature (youji), James M. Hargett identifies and examines core works in the genre, from the Six Dynasties period (220–581), when its essential characteristics emerged, to its florescence in the late Ming dynasty (1368–1644). He traces the dynamic process through which the genre, most of which was written by scholars and officials, developed, and shows that key features include a journey toward an identifiable place; essay or diary format; description of places, phenomena, and conditions, accompanied by authorial observations, comments, and even personal feelings; inclusion of sensory details; and narration of movement through space and time.
Travel literature’s inclusion of a variety of writing styles and purposes has made it hard to delineate. Hargett finds, however, that classic pieces of Chinese travel literature reveal much about the author, his values, and his view of the world, which in turn tells us about the author’s society, making travel literature a rich source of historical information.
Authors & Contributors
James M. Hargett is professor of Chinese at State University of New York, Albany. He is the author of Stairway to Heaven: A Journey to the Summit of Mount Emei and translator of Treatises of the Supervisor and Guardian of the Cinnamon Sea.
Focusing exclusively on premodern travel literature written in classical Chinese, Hargett (Univ. at Albany, SUNY) adroitly traces the development of this literary genre in China from the Six Dynasties through the late Ming. . . . Readers will enjoy the fine balance between the author’s analysis and his translation of excerpts from representative travel essays. . . . Highly recommended.- Choice
This long-awaited, first book-length literary history of imperial Chinese travel prose in English is an impeccably researched guide to the Chinese literature of “movement across the planet’s surface.” Jade Mountains and Cinnabar Pools is eminently readable, with little exoteric or specialist vocabulary. While written primarily for those interested in China studies, it is certainly accessible to the general reader or to the enthusiast of Western travel literature.- Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews
A comprehensive, in-depth, and authoritative account of the evolution of travel literature in Chinese history.- Cong Ellen Zhang, author of Transformative Journeys: Travel and Culture in Song China
Hargett addresses an important topic in Chinese literary and cultural history.- Linda Walton, author of Academies and Society in Southern Sung China
Landscape inspired not just China's painters, but its writers as well. Hargett is our sure-footed sherpa across this landscape, taking us to places we did not know were there—and along the way sharing his obvious pleasure in these literary gems.- Timothy Brook, author of Vermeer's Hat and Mr. Selden's Map of China