Xu Xiake’s Travel Notes: Motion, Records and Genre Change

  • Yi Zheng
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 30)


This study examines the Late Ming Chinese traveler Xu Hongzu’s (1586–1641) travel notes Xiake Youji against the background of the transformations in Ming (1368–1644) social, economic and literati culture. It suggests that the genre change of which Xu’s text is a forerunner is directly related to the increasing importance of spatial movement and with it changing forms of knowledge as well as roles of the literati-knower at the time. It explores how Xu’s method of recording and structuring movement, observations and knowledge in accounting for his travels not only takes on what might be described as systematic empiricist tendencies but also redefines their limits, thus differing from prevalent travel jottings as occasion for lyrical expression, affective association and intellectual meditation. It argues that in the process Xu made the kind of knowledge making his contemporaries discussed and theorized a life-long practice. He devised ways of writing the process of spatial movement as process of knowing, and the knower as imperturbable explorer in uncompromising motion.


Spatial Movement Kunlun Mountain Intellectual History Affective Association Walk Stick 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Brook, Timothy. 1998. The confusions of pleasure: Commerce and culture in Ming China. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  2. Chen, Jiru. 1981. Biography of Mr. Xu Yu’an, accompanied by Wang Ruren (Yu’an Xu gong jipei Wang Ruren zhuan). XXKYJ 1247–1249.Google Scholar
  3. Chou, Chih-P’ing. 1988. Yuan Hung-Tao and the Kung-An School. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Elman, Benjamin A. 2005. On their own terms: Science in China, 1550–1900. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Guo, Shuanglin. 2000. Xicaixia de wanqingdili (Late Qing Geography under the Western Waves). Beijing: Beijing daxuechubansh.Google Scholar
  6. Jiang Minghong. 1994. Yishen jiaoyou (Friendship). In Xu Xiake yu shanshui wenhua (Xu Xiake and the Culture of Mountains and Rivers), eds. Zheng Zuan and Jiang Minghong, 54–71. Shanghai: Shanghai wenhua chubanshe.Google Scholar
  7. Li, Chi. 1974. The travel diaries of Hsu Hsia-k’o. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press of Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  8. Liang, Qichao. 2007 [1929]. Zhongguo jin sanbainian xueshu shi (intellectual history of China in the last three hundred years). Beijing: Zhongguo huaqiao chubanshe.Google Scholar
  9. McDowall, Stephen. 2009. Qian Qianyi’s reflections on Yellow Mountain: Traces of a late-Ming hatchet and chisel. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Needham, Joseph. 1981. The shorter science and civilization in China, vol. 2. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Riemenschnitter, Andrea. 2003. Traveler’s vocation: Xu Xiake and his excursion to the southwester frontier. In Political frontiers, ethnic boundaries, and human geography in Chinese history, ed. Nicola Di Cosmo and Don J. Wyatt, 286–324. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Strassberg, Richard E. 1994. Inscribed landscapes: Travel writing from imperial China. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Wang, Jizhong. 1977. Youhuanxu (Preface to “Summons to Travel”), Wang Jizhong zazhu (Miscellaneous writings of Wang Jizhong). 2 vols, 276–278. Taipei: Weiwen chubanshe.Google Scholar
  14. Wang, Shixing, Wu yue you cao (Travel notes of five mountains) [microform]: [12 juan]/[Wang Shixing zhuan; Tu Long ping]. Wangli 21 [1593] Microfilm. Taibei/Canberra : Guo li zhong yang tu shu guan/Australia National Library.Google Scholar
  15. Ward, Julian. 2001. Xu Xiake (1587–1641): The art of travel writing. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Wilkinson, Endymion Porter. 2000. Chinese history: A manual. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Centre for the Harvard-Yenching Institute.Google Scholar
  17. Wu, Qiulong. 1994. guxiang jiashu (family and hometown). In Xu Xiake yu shanshui wenhua (Xu Xiake and the culture of mountains and rivers), ed. Zheng Zuan and Jiang Minghong, 1–21. Shanghai: Shanghai wenhua chubanshe.Google Scholar
  18. Xu, Hongzu. 1981. In Xu Xiake Youji (Xu Xiake’s travel notes). 2 vols. eds. Chu Shaotang and Wu Yingshou. Shanghai: Shanghai gujichubanshe.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chinese Studies, School of Humanities and LanguagesThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations