Books on Chinese literature, history, and strategy.

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Re: Another China's most important classical novel

Unread postby Kong Wen » Tue Nov 16, 2004 11:42 pm

tcyong wrote: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.

Have you read it? Do you have a personal review to offer? I have been reading reviews about this book with some degree of interest, but I'm not sure if I'm going to invest in it yet.
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I highly recommend "1587, A Year of No Significance&

Unread postby tcyong » Sun Nov 21, 2004 6:11 pm

Although i had a copy of chinese version of "Chin P'ing Mei", but i haven't start to read it, so i can't offer any personal review on this book.

"Chin P'ing Mei" originally published around 1618, during the Ming Dynasty, but before read this novel, i highly recommend a book name "1587, A Year of No Significance" by historian Ray Huang to all who are interesting and want to know more about the Ming Dynasty.

Here are some quotes from amazon.con customer's review about this book:

"A scholarly work that is easily accessible to non-specialists, historian Ray Huang's ironically subtitled 1587: A Year of No Significance focuses on the Ming Emperor Wan-li--who rose to the throne and the age of eight and who reigned for 48 years--and five other figures in the court of the decadent, doomed Ming Dynasty.

This is an off-beat masterpiece of both history and biography, learned yet chatty, steeped in the dense, ancient imperial chronicles yet surprisingly contemporary in its oblique illuminations of contemporary Chinese political culture through the prism of history.

Although published by a major university press, 1587: A Year of No Significance is not simply for specialists. (It is, however, highly regarded among professional China scholars and contains all the trappings--excellent and extensive endnotes, bibliography, and index--of the scholarly monograph.) Above all, it is an engaging, often gripping, at times tragic, and, ultimately, unforgettable portrait of a man and a moment in time. It is, moveover, beautifully written in an odd, often haunting first-person voice that renders palpable the weight and majesty of four thousand years of Chinese civilization.

A variety of excellent, biographically-based popular works on imperial China remain in print--Jean Levi's historical novel, Emperor of China, and Jonathan Spence's work on the Qing emperor Kang-hsi are among the best known--but, in my opinion, Huang's book surpasses them all. 1587 is, indeed, a work of great significance, by an author of encyclopedic knowledge and scope and a stylist of vast charm and elegance. --Paul Frandano"
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Tue Dec 07, 2004 1:15 am

I would like to suggest Ralph D. Sawyer's Fire and Water: Incendiary and Aquatic Warfare in China (2004) to anyone interested in ancient and medieval Chinese warfare (especially involving sieges) prior to the widespread proliferation of gunpowder. Although Sawyer briefly covers riverine warfare, it is not the focus of his work; the "aquatic" adjective in the title refers to the use of water to flood or drown enemies. One warning: although Sawyer's works are full of good information and exhaustively researched, they are also quite dense in style. He also employs the Wage-Giles system of romanization.
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Unread postby WeiTreize » Wed Jan 26, 2005 8:09 pm

one of the books that i like in chinese philosophy is the art of war by sun tzu and mastering the art of war by zhuge liang
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Other Chinese Novels

Unread postby Belfagor » Wed Feb 09, 2005 7:36 pm

I was wondering if anybody here could recommend any other Chinese novels to read. These are the ones I’ve read.

Sanguo Yanyi / Three Kingdoms (Moss Roberts translation)
Shuihuzhuan / Water Margin aka Outlaws of the Marsh aka All Men Are Brothers
(Sidney Shapiro translation)
Xiyouji / Journey to the West (WJF Jenner translation)
Fengshen yanyi / Creation of the Gods aka Investiture of the Gods (forget translator)
Chin P’ing Mei / Plums in a Golden Vase aka Golden Lotus
(Clement Egerton translation)
Rulin Waishi / The Scholars (Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang translation)
Hongloumeng / A Dream of Red Mansions aka Story of the Stone aka Dream of the
Red Chamber (Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang translation)
Jinghua Yuan / Flowers in a Mirror (Lin Tai-yi translation)
Xixiangji / The Western Chamber aka West Chamber (Henry H. Hart translation)
Mudanting / The Peony Pavillion (Cyril Birch translation)

I know the last two are only plays but I read them just because they were so highly referred to in A Dream of Red Mansions. Anyway here are some novels that other websites recommend.

老殘遊記Lao Can Youji / Travels of Lao Can
三俠五義 (七俠五義) Sanxia Wuyi (Qixia Wuyi) / Three (Seven) Heroes and Five
Jou Pu Tuan / The Prayer Mat of Flesh aka The Carnal Prayer Mat
孽海花Niehaihua / A Flower in the Sea of Sin
兒女英雄傳Ernu Yingxiong Zhuan / The Story of a Hero Boy and Hero Girls

I was only able to find translations available for the first three, and not for the second two. So if somebody here has read one of those five books, please tell me what your opinion of it was. If anybody knows of translations for Niehaihua or Ernu Yingxiong Zhuan, or if anybody simply knows of some other Chinese novels that have been translated into English and are good, then please recommend them.

Those five recommendations came from lists of novels at these two websites. ... erenc.html ... habet.html
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Unread postby starting-line » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:25 pm

The 4 lengends of chinese ancient book, like rotk and the monkey one and the one about 4 big familys and the 108 hero one. I dont get how come the japness are not interest 108 hero but interest on rotk.
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Unread postby Zu Mao the Brave » Fri Mar 18, 2005 1:51 am

I was reading my Sun Tzu Art of War translated Ralph D. Sawyer when I saw this

" The seven military books, as they have been traditionally arranged in the Seven Military Classics since the Sung dynasty are:

Sun-tzu's Art of War
The Methods of Ssu-ma (Ssu-ma Fa)
Questions and Replies Between
T'ang T'ai-tsung and Li Wei-kung
Wei Liao-tzu
Three Sratagies of Huang Shih-kung
T'ai Kung's Six Secret Teachings"

I obviusly know the first one. But what are the rest , and can I get these in english?
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Unread postby Kong Wen » Fri Mar 18, 2005 2:43 am

Sawyer has actually published a collected translation of the seven military classics. Here is a link to it on Amazon: Seven Military Classics @

That volume includes his translation of the Art of War as wel.
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Unread postby Sean » Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:09 pm

...I have some doubt in this post, goes nothing.

Does the book "Chinese Eunuchs: Structure on Intimate Politics" fall under this category? I'm considering buying this book (somewhere), but I was wondering if anyone here's read this book, and could give some pointers on what this book is about. And please, don't tell me that this is a book about a structure on intimate politics.

If this question isn't valid for a topic such as this, then could a kind person direct me to a place suitable for such questions? Thanks.
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Unread postby Lady Wu » Mon Apr 18, 2005 10:20 pm

It definitely falls under this category, Moogle. :)

The title sounds intriguing... does Amazon or somewhere have a review/synopsis of it?
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