I doubt that any serious sinologist would question either of the following statements: first, matters related to geography (especially place-names and their associations) occupy a ubiquitous presence in traditional literary texts; and second, highly descriptive, literary language is present in many premodern geographical works. And yet, while some contemporary scholars writing in Chinese have studied the link between literature and geography in the traditional period, an area of inquiry now called “literary-geography” (wenxue dili), only a few China specialists writing in English have given it serious consideration. This neglect is surprising when one considers that the texts China scholars routinely consult and draw upon were, for the most part, produced by literati who spent the bulk of their careers migrating from one official post to the next, usually in the provinces. Much of their lives and careers, then, was characterized by movement, through space, to and from specific...

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