Every Rock a Universe
The Yellow Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing

including the first complete translation of Wang Hongdu's A Record of Comprehending the Essentials of the Yellow Mountains

by Jonathan Chaves

The Yellow Mountains (Huangshan) of China's Anhui Province have been famous for centuries as a place of scenic 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 important symbol and refuge for loyalists protesting the new Qing dynasty and hoping for a reaffirmation of native governance and ideals. Among those 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 in 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 the Yellow 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.

"Brings to life the beauties of a great work of Chinese travel literature and… revives for us the poetic, political and religious culture that nurtured it."
— David K. Schneider, U Mass, Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews, Vol. 36

Jonathan Chaves is professor of Chinese in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures at The George Washington University. A published original poet and renowned translator and scholar of Chinese poetry, his work has been nominated for the National Book Award in the translation category.

210 pp, 6 x 9, Soft
8 monochrome photographs by Wang Wusheng
ISBN: 978-1-891640-70-4