Asian & Asian American Studies

Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Han Shan, Chan Buddhism and Gary Snyder’s Ecopoetic Way


In the series
Asian & Asian American Studies

Joan Qionglin Tan, Associate Professor and Head of the English Department at Hunan University, China, and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society in the UK, received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Wales in 2008. She has published books and articles in Chinese, on English teaching, translation and literature, and most recently has been working as a lecturer at the Centre for Chinese Studies of the University of Wales, Lampeter.

This book is a comparative study of the Tang poet and recluse Han Shan (Cold Mountain) and Gary Snyder, an American poet and environmental activist. Joan Tan explains how Chan Buddhism has the potential to be recognised as an important voice in contemporary ecopoetry. Mountain-seeing Chan/Zen theory and the nature-Chan mirror are employed as aesthetic criteria to explicate the dual discourses – spiritual and aesthetic – which exist in Han Shan and Snyder’s poetry and life work. Snyder’s goal of establishing one ecosystem for all communities encouraged him to adopt Han Shan as an ideal (albeit Chinese mythical) model and Chan Buddhism as a global subculture representing environmental values. Han Shan, Chan Buddhism and Gary Snyder's Ecopoetic Way investigates how Snyder interweaves Chinese cultural sources in an eclectic way to impose a sense of place, a sense of work and a sense of energy in his ecopoetry. His unique ideogrammatic method – riprapping – developed as a result of his literary indebtedness to the Oriental tradition, makes for a forceful statement on contemporary ecology.

Through Snyder’s successful translation, Han Shan has been revived as an immortal Beat Poet (Jack Kerouac features prominently in the chapters), while Cold Mountain has emerged as synonymous with enlightenment. Snyder himself has become an exemplary representative of an American Han Shan. The poetic line extending from Han Shan through Chan/Zen to contemporary ecology is considered here as a continuum – a continuum profoundly enhanced by Snyder’s remarkable achievement of eco-wholeness – the original goal of Han Shan in his poetry.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-341-6
Paperback Price: £22.50 / $37.50
Release Date: March 2009
Page Extent / Format: 320 pp. / 246 x 171 mm
Illustrated: No


Abbreviations and Notes
List of Tables


1 Chan, Ecology and Ecopoetry
Chan, Mind and Nature
The Aesthetics of Chan and Chan Poetry
Chan: the Sustainable Voice in Contemporary Ecopoetry

2 Han Shan’s Poetic Way to Cold Mountain
Han Shan’s Spiritual Quest for Chan Enlightenment
Oneness: Persona, Nature and Mind in Han Shan’s Chan Poems
Artistic Techniques of Nature-Chan Images
The Status and Influence of Han Shan and His Cold Mountain Poems

3 Han Shan: Gary Snyder’s Chinese Mythical Model
The Early Zest for Chan/Zen and Chinese Poetry
The Translation of Han Shan’s Cold Mountain Poems
The Experimental Practice of Han Shan, Chan and Cold Mountain Poems

4 Han Shan, Chan and Ecology in Gary Snyder’s Ecopoetry
Place: Plants, Animals and Land
Work: Body, Practice and Mind
Energy: Emptiness, Compassion and Enlightenment

5 Gary Snyder: An Exemplary Representative of an American Han Shan
‘Moving the World a Millionth of an Inch’
Han Shan, Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums
‘A Bit of a Han Shan Spirit’



Review Quotes to Follow

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab.

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.