Travel Writing and Cultural Memory in Late-Ming Beijing The Case of A Sketch of Sites and Objects in the Imperial Capital (Dijing jingwulüe, 1635)

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Naixi Feng



Focusing on A Sketch of Sites and Objects in the Imperial Capital (Dijing jingwul- üe, 1635), this article examines how the primary author, Liu Tong (1593–1636), created and preserved the cultural memory of Beijing through writing the city’s scenic sites in the waning years of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Liu Tong, who sojourned in the capital then situated on the state’s frontier, observed Beijing during a period of comprehensive decay. This temporal and spatial framework affected the way he observed Beijing’s northern landscape features and inspired him to both preserve the city’s literary and historical heritage and report on its current dilapidation. This study addresses Liu Tong’s literary strategies to preserve Beijing’s literary legacy and surviving landscapes, with particular attention to his adaptation of earlier travel writings about Beijing, his development of a new lyrical style of prose, and the portrayal of the immediate reality of his lived experience.

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