Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SGYY) Purchase and Book Info

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Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SGYY) Purchase and Book Info

Unread postby James » Wed Jan 22, 2003 12:41 am

Considering the purchase of Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi)?
A common question I have been asked, and that has turned up in this forum, is what copy of San Guo Yan Yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong) should be purchased? There are multiple choices, and they each have their own merits, so the query is justified.

Never read it? Read a little bit of the massive novel here:
http://threekingdoms.com (The full Brewitt-Taylor translation online).

The first thing to take into consideration is whether or not you want an abridged edition. Full translations are usually around $50 USD in paperback, and run around 2,000 pages or more, while abridged version are as low as $12 USD, and can be as small as 350 pages. From my perspective I strongly suggest paying the extra money for the full edition. Even at around 2,000 the story is actually holds a fast pace (especially when compared to most Western literature), and over the course of the novel countless officers, kingdoms, positions, and other general bits of information are introduced.

Now, when you take this into consideration and imagine shoveling the whole story into only one 400-page book, you might see a problem (and you are right, it doesn’t work). In abridged editions the story speeds up so fast that proper attention is not paid to various elements; many interesting parts are completely removed, and you never get the same chance to associate with the characters and locations. That said, if you simply cannot afford to pay $50 for your full copy, you might want to consider the $15 abridged version. If you don’t mind paying $50 for a great story though, don’t even consider the abridged version a valid option.

ISBN: 0520215850 - Romance of the Three Kingdoms (English)
Author: Moss Roberts, Abridged Edition (1 Volume), 488 pages, $12.03 USD

Want more information on the unabridged editions, or you have already decided that the abridged edition isn’t the right choice for you? You have one more choice ahead. There are two major English translations, the Brewitt-Taylor and the newer Moss Roberts versions. Both make for a wonderful read. For the most part the Moss Roberts translation seems to flow better, has fewer errors, and contains wonderful footnotes and appendixes (more content in more expensive versions, naturally). On the other hand, some people consider the Brewitt-Taylor version to be more interesting in regards to major events; they say it pains a better picture, and in many cases I am inclined to agree. You can read the Brewitt-Taylor version at threekingdoms.com, but the Moss Roberts version is more a purchase of faith (unless it is at a local bookstore where you can thumb through it, which is unlikely).

Unfortunately, because of the limited availability of Brewitt-Taylor translations on the Internet, we will be focusing on Moss Roberts translations (which are easier to purchase). If you would like to see if Brewitt-Taylor translations are in stock you can try this Amazon.com search.

You will also want to consider whether or not you want the Chinese officers names to be printed in Wade Gilles [Ts’ao Ts’ao (Mêng-tê)] or Hanyu Pinyin [Cao Cao (Mengde)]. For the most part Hanyu Pinyin is much easier to read, so I would suggest it over Wade Gilles if you are not already used to that system. Nearly all Brewitt-Taylor translations are presented in Wade Gilles and the Moss Roberts translations are presented in Hanyu Pinyin.

If you are buying an unabridged edition, I would suggest getting either the four-volume paperback or five-volume library binding Moss Robert’s version depending on how you view cost vs. quality.

<div align="center">Image</div>
ISBN: 7119005901 - Romance of the Three Kingdoms (English)
Author: Moss Roberts, Paperback (4 Volumes), 2340 pages, $39.95 USD

ISBN: 7119024086 - Romance of the Three Kingdoms (English/Chinese)
Author: Moss Roberts, Library Binding (5 Volumes), 3115 pages, $149.95 USD

Obviously the price difference is significant, but as an owner of both editions I can assure you that they are both worth their respective prices to a fan of the Three Kingdoms. The four-volume paperback release features a fair font size, but the margins, paper, and quality don’t compare to nicer hardbound books (obviously). If you are used to paperback editions of books, you shouldn’t have a single complaint at all. Furthermore, the relatively low price tag is not something to scoff at, especially for a reader with a limited income for leisure books.

On the other hand, the five-volume library-binding version is complete beauty. Healthy margins, a friendly font size and font face, good quality paper, and a large quantity of footnotes, illustrations, maps, and appendixes are just some of the many merits. Not to mention the fact that this translation also includes the original Chinese hanzi on the left hand pages. If you are a true fan of the series, and can come up with the extra money, this is the translation for you. You can also find it at discount from time to time on the Amazon page from an independent seller. Make sure you buy new if you don’t want to take risks.

Some additional useful information
If you cannot make your novel purchase online, you will have to check local bookstores and colleges. Major university bookstores can usually order the version you want (just give them the ISBN). Sometimes stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders can also make an order (same case, give them the ISBN and book information). You will probably have difficulty if you attempt to find it in the local bookstore, however.

Looking to sell an old copy of the Three Kingdoms novel?
Why not post information regarding the copy you are selling here in this thread? There are probably other members looking for their own copy, and a discount may be welcomed. In the name of honor please include complete book details (pages, whether it is hardbound or paperback, etc.) and any damage (dog-eared pages, tears, stains, water damage, wear and tear, etc.).

What is the San Guo Yan Yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel)?
From Kongming’s Archives and authored by Lady Sun and James:
Luo Guanzhong, a writer from the fifteenth century, combined historical information found in the San Guo Zhi, commentaries on it by Pei Songzhi, and popular folk tales about various officers of the Three Kingdoms era and turned them into a wonderful novel called the San Guo Yan Yi (or Romance of the Three Kingdoms). Later, in the late 17th Century, Mao Lun and Mao Zhong Gang edited the original novel.

The Maos’ contribution to the text was the establishment of an authoritative edition out of all the different versions of the SGYY currently available on the market. They did some minor editing, but also wrote commentaries, ded some poetry, corrected historical inconsistencies, additional details such as the story of Lady Sun committing suicide. For these reasons we can say that “the modern San Guo Yan Yi (or Romance of the Three Kingdoms) cannot be seen as completely written by Luo Guanzhong himself.”

Because the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SGYY) is a fictional novel it cannot be used as a historical reference, even though the events presented within are usually derived from historical people, places, and events. To learn more about this history behind the Romance of the Three Kingdoms we suggest reading the San Guo Zhi biography translations presented on this site and made available by several dedicated and knowledgeable members of the Three Kingdoms online community.

Although the Romance of the Three Kingdoms (SGYY) has been claimed to be “7 parts history, 3 parts fiction”, most would agree that this masterpiece is the most enjoyable ways to learn about people and events of the Three Kingdoms era. After reading it you may find yourself much more interested in the actual historical documents.

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If you find any errors in this document, or have any suggested additions, please post in reply to this message so they can be fixed. Feel free to post questions for members of this forum as well.
Last edited by James on Sun Nov 26, 2006 8:52 am, edited 8 times in total.
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Unread postby Erdrick » Fri Jan 24, 2003 2:02 am

I must agree; the 5 volume is an extravagent, but well worth it; the endnotes that take up about one hundred pages by themselves, not to mention the either old-style pictures of events or map that make an appearance nearly every chapter, (let alone the original, concurrent character original text), is fantastic.
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Unread postby Tianshan Zi » Fri Jan 24, 2003 3:01 am

I am very happy with my 5-volume library bound edition. However, I am disturbed at the high number of typos and misprints that remain in it. That I am disappointed with.

One excellent improvement of this 5-volume edition over the older 3-volume paperback edition: the endnotes for each volume are located within each appropriate volume. One doesn't need to carry around volume 3 in addition to whatever volume one is reading at the time in order to check the endnotes.
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Unread postby Sun Bofu » Sat Jan 25, 2003 3:54 am

I've had the four-volume set for about 2 years now.:D I bought it form amazon.com, and for those of that buy books online amazon takes off the "Shiping&Handling" in for all states 8-)
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Unread postby Erdrick » Sun Jan 26, 2003 3:42 pm

Tianshan Tzu wrote:I am very happy with my 5-volume library bound edition. However, I am disturbed at the high number of typos and misprints that remain in it. That I am disappointed with.

One excellent improvement of this 5-volume edition over the older 3-volume paperback edition: the endnotes for each volume are located within each appropriate volume. One doesn't need to carry around volume 3 in addition to whatever volume one is reading at the time in order to check the endnotes.


I must agree with the typoes; however, at least they aren't any confusing ones, (i.e., where the typo would change meaning as opposed to being annoying). But, the endnotes are in each volume for the chapter that the note relates too... (at least in the edition I have; the one shown above anyway)
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Unread postby Tirranek » Wed Feb 05, 2003 1:11 pm

Thank you very much James for the information. I have been intending to buy the books for a while now, but always got confused with the various editions and versions. You have made things clear, and the 5-volume hardback edition sounds very appealing. Many thanks! :)
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Unread postby James » Wed Feb 05, 2003 1:34 pm

Tirranek wrote:Thank you very much James for the information. I have been intending to buy the books for a while now, but always got confused with the various editions and versions. You have made things clear, and the 5-volume hardback edition sounds very appealing. Many thanks! :)

That makes typing it out worthwhile to me right there. :)
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Unread postby Ender » Wed Feb 05, 2003 11:28 pm

Bn.com is also a good place to find the book.
http://www.bn.com/ and... I did a search...

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Unread postby James » Tue Feb 11, 2003 4:41 am

Bn.com is Amazon.com, you will notice if you check out the logo.
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Unread postby danfindlay » Wed Feb 12, 2003 2:14 am

I got my five volume set yesterday. Thanks for making everything clear as far as editions, I'd been holding off for a long time because I didn't know which to get.
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