Earnshaw Books, an independent publisher specializing in China matters, has recently issued two books featuring westerners sojourning in China over a period of a century and a half. Frances Wood, a respected scholar of Chinese history, presents the account of Aeneas Anderson, who served as a valet to Lord Macartney when the latter led an embassy to the court of the Qianlong emperor (1792) and Graham Earnshaw introduces a book of photographs taken by Isabella Bird on her travels through China in 1898.

The great Swiss travel writer Nicolas Bouvier began his career in 1963 with L’Usage du Monde, an account of a journey from Geneva to the Khyber Pass. Published in English as The Way of the World, the book earned him cult status amongst travel-writing aficionados, its distinctive sensibility and supremely elegant prose elevating it well above the myriad other 20th-century travel books featuring well-heeled young Europeans traversing sections of the old Silk Road.

The Original Meaning of the Yijing: Commentary on the Scripture of Change, Zhu Xi. Joseph A Adler (trans, ed) (Columbia University Press, November 2019)
The Original Meaning of the Yijing: Commentary on the Scripture of Change, Zhu Xi, Joseph A Adler (trans, ed) (Columbia University Press, November 2019)

The Yijing (I Ching), or Scripture of Change, is traditionally considered the first and most profound of the Chinese classics. Originally a divination manual based on trigrams and hexagrams, by the beginning of the first millennium it had acquired written explanations and a series of appendices attributed to Confucius, which transformed it into a work of wisdom literature as well as divination. Over the centuries, hundreds of commentaries were written, but for the past thousand years, one of the most influential has been that of Zhu Xi (1130–1200), who synthesized the major interpretive approaches to the text and integrated it into his system of moral self-cultivation.

Serendipity, we may say, is a wonderful thing sometimes. Here are both a newly expanded edition of Hinton’s translation of Tu Fu’s poems, and at the same time his book about Tu Fu’s life as exemplified in an examination of some of these poems as they relate to the poet’s precipitous journey through life.

Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China, edited by Timothy Cheek, David Ownby, and Joshua A Fogel (Columbia University Press, November 2019)
Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China, edited by Timothy Cheek, David Ownby, and Joshua A Fogel (Columbia University Press, November 2019)

China’s increasing prominence on the global stage has caused consternation and controversy among Western thinkers, especially since the financial crisis of 2008. But what do Chinese intellectuals themselves have to say about their country’s newfound influence and power? Voices from the Chinese Century brings together a selection of essays from representative leading thinkers that open a window into public debate in China today on fundamental questions of China and the world—past, present, and future.

Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958, Yurou Zhong (Columbia University Press, November 2019)
Chinese Grammatology: Script Revolution and Literary Modernity, 1916–1958, Yurou Zhong (Columbia University Press, November 2019)

Chinese Grammatology traces the origins, transmutations, and containment of this script revolution to provide a groundbreaking account of its formative effects on Chinese literature and culture, and lasting implications for the encounter between the alphabetic and nonalphabet worlds.