In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 235 Richard E. Strassberg, translator. InscribedLandscapes: Travel Writingfrom Imperial China. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University ofCalifornia Press, 1994. xvii, 580 pp. Hardcover, $55.00. Paperback, $20.00. This is an excellent book, one which should henceforth become a part ofevery serious library of Chinese literature. Richard Strassberg here makes available for the first time to an English-speaking audience a generous sampling ofthe rich travel prose of China in accurate and aestiietically superior English. An increasing interest in Chinese travel writing has been developing both in the West and in China itself. OfWestern scholars in the field, James M. Hargett has devoted the greatest attention to this material, and has contributed die most elaborate analysis ofit to date in his book, On The Road in Twelfth Century China: The Travel Diaries of Fan Chengda (1126-1193) (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1989). In China, in addition to numerous scholarly studies, many ofthem cited by Strassberg in his fine bibliography, there have been a number ofpopular anthologies aimed at a broader readership, most notably the Li-tai yu-chi hsüan MiXMíiM, edited by Pei Yüanch 'en JUÌSEJk and Yeh Yu-ming MOl^M (Ch'ang-sha: Hunan Jen-min Ch'u-panshe , 1980), which in die edition I happen to own reached a printing of 174,000 copies, and Chung-kuo ku-tai chi-yu wen-hsiieh ying-hua 1PMl^ÍX^M^C^^W , edited by Ma Hsien-i Ü7rjii et al. (Chi-nan: Shan-tung Jen-min Ch'u-pan-she, 1986), a volume which interestingly presents both prose and poetry (not listed in Strassberg's bibliography). Ifone compares Strassberg's table ofcontents with these two anthologies, there turns out to be a remarkably high correlation. Even for such prolific authors ofyu-chi WH (travel essays) as Yuan Hung-tao AiSSM (1568-1610) or Ch'ien Ch'ien-i WkMlSi (1582-1664), the overlap is striking. To some extent this may simply reflect the supreme importance ofcertain individual works (e.g., Su Shih's Wffi [1037-1101] Stone Bells Mountain, found in Pei and Yeh, Ma et al., and in Strassberg), but in others one cannot help but feel that Strassberg has missed an opportunity to uncover previously unknown gems by some of these writers. On the other hand, Strassberg has been innovative in at least two regards. For one thing, by presenting the Record ofthe Feng and Shan Sacrifices by Ma Ti-po MjW>iÙ, from the Hou Han shu ilt/XH, as a yu-chi, he is able quite plausibly to push the origin ofChinese travel writing back to the Han dynasty, whereas most accounts tend to derive it from Six Dynasties sources. Pei and Yeh are even more© 1995 by University conservative and actually begin their anthology with the T'ang-dynasty writer ofHawai'iPressYuan chieh ¿fìfè (n9_772). Secondly, Strassberg has had die idea oflinking the quasi-ethnographical foreign travel account, A Record ofthe Western Regions, by Hsüan-tsang 2^ (ca. 600-664), with die belles lettres tradition represented by 236 China Review International: Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 1995 all die odier works presented here, even though one would not on die whole think ofHsiian-tsang as an artistic writer. (Ofcourse, there has also been some questioning ofthe aesthetic viability ofHsii Hsia-k'o's WM.^- [1586-1641] travel diaries, die most extensive body of such writing in all of Chinese literature, but lengthy passages ofwhich are quite tedious, and yet Strassberg argues strongly for the richness of Hsü's prose [p. 319], and die translated examples [pp. 319-354] certainly show Hsii at his best as a writer.) Strassberg is a very good translator. Again, I do wish tiiat he had chosen more pieces by the better-known figures that had not already appeared in English—Su Shih's Red Cliffprose poems have been done many times, as have the Liu Tsungyiian $?t?7? (773-819) miniatures—but Strassberg acquits himselfwell in his renditions of diese classics. And a high percentage ofthe entries are in fact presented in English for the first time. Only once in the entire book was I taken aback. In the Su Shun-ch'in...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 235-239
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.