"Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture"

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"Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture"

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:48 am

I want to bring some attention to a book I recently read -- and by read, I mean I powered through it in a single day because it was such a good book. I'll try to make this not sound like a shilled advertisement. :lol: (But seriously, I just really like the book.)

Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture, edited by Kimberly Besio and Constantine Tung

This book is a collection of essays analyzing the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, its impact on modern culture, how it depicts Chinese values of its time, and why it said what it said.

It's a shorter book, sitting at 165 pages (193 counting bibliography and indexes), and includes 11 articles (12 counting Moss Roberts' very informative foreword that probably should have been its own article). Some of its recognizable authors include the aforementioned Moss Roberts, Constantine Tung, Dominic Cheung, Hoyt Tillman, and more.


Here are some topics covered that were of particular interest to me:

* The Romance's depiction of filiality vs. fraternity

* The struggle of the Shu in balancing important matters and emotional matters; and what, exactly, the Peach pact means and implies about Chinese culture

* A breakdown of the Three Kingdoms television series' themes compared to the novel

* Why Zhuge Liang's story has become so mystical and rife with fiction over the years


I suppose my main takeaway, outside of some learning a lot of cool stuff, is that it's really easy to be hard on the Peach Tree brotherhood and Zhuge Liang. And I don't just mean the Romance's depiction of them. This book has challenged my perceptions and has given me a better understanding of some of Liu Bei's more questionable choices.

I'd say this book is a great companion piece to the Sanguo Yanyi, though it does assume you've read it. Those who are especially well-studied in the novel may not learn anything new, but those like me who have always taken the novel mostly at face-value may discover deeper meanings you missed before.

It's also just a good book for understanding Chinese culture in general, especially when it comes to things like Confucianism in practice and "appropriateness" of action.
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
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Re: "Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture"

Unread postby Sakae Wu » Wed Apr 04, 2018 11:05 am

This sounds great! I'm going to order it online. Thanks for posting the informative review.
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Re: "Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture"

Unread postby Sun Fin » Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:05 pm

The book is listed in my sources thread but as i don't own it I don't have a review. Would you be able to condense what you've written into a paragraph that tells an interested party what it's about?
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
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Re: "Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture"

Unread postby Jia Nanfeng » Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:21 pm

Hi Sun Fin,

I’ve posted a review there. :mrgreen:
Have a question about a book or academic article before you buy it? Maybe I have it!
Check out my library here for a list of Chinese history resources I have on hand!
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