• ChinaBooks.ch
  • Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Romance of Three Kingdoms

    Over the past three weeks, several folks have recommended that I read the Romance of Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong. "Three Kingdoms was the first full-length novel with clear chapter divisions to appear in ancient China. It is a classic historical romance. No other work of this genre, in past times or present, has had such a deep and wide-ranging impact on Chinese society. The Chinese title of this novel, Sanguo Yanyi, indicates that its theme is 'righteousness,' which at one time was extrolled as the highest standard of virtue in China." [From Professor Shi Changyu's Introduction to Moss Roberts' translation.]

    A Three Kingdoms web site is dedicated to this historical novel and includes commentary by Dr. Rafe de Crespigny. He explains: "ROTK...is the most popular novel in Asia. Written 600 years ago, it tells the epic of Han Dynasty in China during the 2nd and 3rd century...The English translation of ROTK by Moss Roberts is the best translation I have ever seen. It is more enjoyable than the original Chinese text, I truly agree. Here is the one reason: Professor Roberts provides us 250 extra pages of notes, which come from various sources, from both history and traditions. I have read a few original texts, and the editions I read do not give as much information. Beside notes, Professor Roberts also supplies several useful maps of battles. One advantage of this translation is that it is new, and therefore, it uses the modern Pinyin name system (names like Cao Cao, Liu Bei, and Sun Quan---those names are used in games, too)...ThreeKingdoms.com publishes the full translation of ROTK by C.H. Brewitt-Taylor on the web free for all internet readers. We incorporate the literature style of Brewitt-Taylor, and at the same time we use the modern Pinyin name system. Moreover, we have corrected the many mistakes the paper book has. And the best thing of all, we include many notes, backgrounds, as well as maps with more details than in any ROTK book." Go to ThreeKingdoms.com, learn more about this great novel, and start to read it. You can download the complete text to your computer for easy access.

    I was fortunate to be able to purchase in Chengdu a paperback boxed copy of Moss Roberts' Three Kingdoms in four volumes, published by the Foreign Language Press in Beijing for about US$10.00.


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