Professor Jonathan Chaves publishes a new book, Every Rock A Universe: The Yellow Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing

Every Rock A Universe
July 15, 2014

This title includes the first complete translation of Wang Hongdu’s A Record of Comprehending the Essentials of the Yellow Mountains.

The Yellow Mountains (Huang shan) of China’s Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of sce- nic beauty and inspiration for poets, painters, and travelers, and remain a hugely popular tourist destination today. A “golden age” of Yellow Mountains travel came in the 17th century, especially after the traumatic Manchu invasion of China in 1644 led to the overthrow of the Ming dynasty. The mountains subsequently became an impor- tant symbol for loyalists protesting the new Qing dynasty and hoping for a reaffirmation of native governance and ideals. Among them was poet and artist Wang Hongdu (1646–1721/1722), who dedicated himself to traveling to each and every peak and site and recording his impressions. Unfortunately, his resulting masterpiece of Chinese travel writing was not printed until 1775 and has since remained obscure and available only in Chinese.

In the present book, Professor Jonathan Chaves presents the first complete translation of Wang’s work into a Western language, with extensive annotations. Wang’s newly rediscovered poetry is also translated, showing him to be one of the most accomplished poets of his day. Introductory essays explore the history of scholarly and religious pilgrimage to the area, and the role of theYellow Mountains in the great Neo-Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist revivals of the early Qing period, that is, as the center of a yearned-for spiritual and cultural renaissance.