Friday, May 15, 2009

Romance of the Three Kingdoms

As promised, here is a list of books featuring the Romance of the Three Kingdoms:
  • Romance Of The Three Kingdoms (in 2 volumes) by Lo Kuan-Chung, and translated by C H Brewitt-Taylor. The original San Guo Yan Yi was written around the fourteenth century. This edition, translated in the mid-1920s, is based on a shortened and simplified version of the original San Guo Yan Yi published in 1670s.
  • Battle At The Red Cliff: A Guide To Three Kingdom by Li Lienfung. The popular Singapore-based writer Li Lienfung, writing under her Green Bamboo column, provided an excellent introduction to many of the famous episodes in San Guo Yan Yi. The author's relaxed style and her array of little known facts and knowledgeable insights and reinterpretations will intrigue readers and inspire them to discover for themselves the characters and timelessness of the original novel itself.
  • Romance Of The Three Kingdoms (A set of 10 books) by Zhang Qirong; Li Chengli (Illustrator). This is AsiaPac's illustrated volume. All the major episodes from San Guo Yan Yi are featured, with elegant and concise writing and detailed and evocative illustrations.
  • Three Kingdoms: Chinese Classics (Classic Novel in 4-Volumes) by Luo Guanzhong, and translated by Moss Roberts. We do not carry this translated edition, but it is available from Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. Lo Kuan-Chung's "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is an astonishing prose monument(in more senses than one) of Chinese literature well worth the considerable investment of time you're required to make in it. While the book is lively reading, its cavalier disregard for human life and its sheer bloodthirstiness will leave one shaking one's head at human nature(Europe's history during the same period was just as blood-drenched and inhumane at times). The novel's extended insights into the dark side of human nature would have fascinated both Shakespeare and Machiavelli and the sheer bloodiness of the narrative would have hit the spot with Jacobean writers such as Webster. The whole thing seems like a narrative commentary on Sun Tzu's "The Art of War"(which obsessed businessmen in the nineties who hoped to get a piece of the "Asian Miracle", as it were). The political sophistication of the book is quite astonishing for the time. While the novel is not particularly strong at exploring the inner lives of its characters, it is astute in its exploration of human motives and its use of incident to reveal character. Still, the book will be a tough go for some Western readers given the sheer length and the number of sometimes insufficiently differentiated characters in the narrative. A classic nonetheless. You will leave this book considerably saddened about human nature, but maybe you'll be that much the wiser...Greg Cameron, Surrey, B.C., Canada