Books on Chinese literature, history, and strategy.

Discuss literature (e.g. books, newspapers), educational studies (getting help or opinions on homework or an essay), and philosophy.

Unread postby BobPalindrome » Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:43 pm

I guess I should have been more clear. By "real" people and "real" emotion I mean that they actually have deep personalities and go through feelings and experiences that every human being can relate to. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, while based on historical events and figures, can be so fantastic at times that sometimes when reading it the reader might have to stand back and go "What the hell?" At times, RTK can be more like reading a comic book than a classic novel. Also, the characters are never deeply explored, as most of them are introducted, mentioned a few times and then are never heard from again. We don't get a lot of introverted self-questioning, angst, or personal growth save in brief glimpses. Basically, Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a relation of (mostly) true history and tall tales that -- while succeeding in keeping the reader intrigued -- is shallow and sensational.

Dream of Red Mansion, however, is far more profound and moving, especially in how it depicts its characters. In it, we witness the fall and decline of an aristocratic Chinese family and it has been notced for its deep psychological insight. It stands out in Chinese literature for its depth, which -- quite frankly -- Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West and Outlaws of the Marsh lack in spades.

Of course, I'm not saying those books are bad books. But one must remember that they are colloquial in nature -- tales handed down by one generation to the next, until various people sat down and actually wrote them down. These stories were popular with the common people, so obviously they're more exciting than deep. That doesn't take away from their appeal, but if you're going for actual literary merit, Romance/Journey/Outlaws don't make the cut compared to Dream.
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Unread postby _Zhuge_Jin_ » Thu Aug 19, 2004 12:33 am

BobPalindrome wrote:I guess I should have been more clear. By "real" people and "real" emotion I mean that they actually have deep personalities and go through feelings and experiences that every human being can relate to. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, while based on historical events and figures, can be so fantastic at times that sometimes when reading it the reader might have to stand back and go "What the hell?" At times, RTK can be more like reading a comic book than a classic novel. Also, the characters are never deeply explored, as most of them are introducted, mentioned a few times and then are never heard from again.


Sadly, the ROTK books are so abreviated that that is the result, I think it would be amusing to read chronicals of the three kingdoms and as it would take a long time, you would really get an idea of what these people were like.
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Unread postby robbyjo » Wed Aug 25, 2004 7:33 am

Hi all,

I'm wondering if you guys could give me a pointer to literatures of General Yue Fei and General Yang? I had these books in the past in my languages, but it seemed to me that they're all lost... :(

-- Rob
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Unread postby Trip My Wire » Sat Sep 04, 2004 4:03 am

I have Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh in those nice 4 volume sets that match in design printed by the Foreign Language Press.... I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about.
There are two more novels (A Dream of Red Mansions and Journey to the West) that match this set and I'm considering buying them so that I can have a nice looking set of 4 books in four volumes each that are all made by the FLP.
Before I purchase these novels so that my shelf looks neat, can some of you who have read either of these books give me your opinion on them and maybe tell me how they compare to Outlaws and Three Kingdoms?

Thanks!
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Unread postby Mei Zhen » Sat Sep 04, 2004 6:26 am

My guess is that they may not be to your liking if you prefer historical war fiction, though completing the set of four classic Chinese novels is well worth it! Hung Luo Meng (A Dream of Red Mansions) is a love story, and just so I don't ruin it for you, it chronicles the lives of four prominent houses, and I'll just hint that it contains some tragic elements. It's been described as a Chinese Romeo and Juliet if that's your cup of tea.

Xi You Ji (Journey to the West) is sort of like The Odyssey, I suppose. Your usual cast of mutants and monks go on a mission to retrieve the sacred Buddhist texts from India, and how can you go wrong when you have a curious monkey, a water spirit and a god-turned pigman on your team? It's a work of fantasy very popular among especially younger audiences.

Gettem if they sound interesting to you!
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Unread postby Trip My Wire » Sat Sep 04, 2004 4:17 pm

Thank you!

I've been really considering buying the Dream of Red Mansions soon because of all that I've heard about it... the only problem is making sure I buy the right edition so it matches the rest of my books. Thanks for your input!
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Unread postby IsbenFaith » Sun Oct 24, 2004 7:02 am

I was flipping through a World Literature anthology and I found "Letter in Reply to Jen An". It says the author is Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Is this the same author as Historical Records? Plus, is there a good translation of Historical Records? The closest thing I have is some excerpts "The Biography of Po Yi and Shu Ch'i", "The Prince of Wei", "Yu-jang" and "Nieh Cheng". What translation would you recommend and where can I get it?
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Sun Oct 24, 2004 8:25 pm

IsbenFaith wrote:I was flipping through a World Literature anthology and I found "Letter in Reply to Jen An". It says the author is Ssu-ma Ch'ien. Is this the same author as Historical Records?

Yes. He's the one. (I'm surprised that letter made it in an English anthology!)
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Another China's most important classical novel

Unread postby tcyong » Tue Nov 16, 2004 2:06 pm

The Plum in the Golden Vase or "Chin P'ing Mei"

Originally published around 1618, this 100-chapter novel unravels the greed and political and sexual exploits of a Sung dynasty merchant. Infused with eroticism and high irony, the story is often seen to be a microcosm of 17th-century Chinese society. With its 40 period woodblock illustrations, this book is essential in any collection of world literature. - D.E. Perushek, Univ. of Tennessee Libs., Knoxville

English rendering translated by David Tod Roy.
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Unread postby IsbenFaith » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:26 pm

Are there any really good Li Po poem collections (english translation)?

What I've read of his is remarkable! I absolutely love his style and how he can transform into the most beautiful writer or the most tasteless. But even his tasteless poems are written tactfully. An example of this is 'Ballad of Youth'.

I'm kinda hoping for a collection that doesn't just show one side of his, but all.
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