Zhuge Kongming wrote:Well, first off, we don’t know at what point in Zhuge Liang’s life this book was written. It is possible he was reflecting on mistakes made earlier in his later years? It is also sometimes much easier to see the right path than to follow it. That said, there are bound to be contradictions. This could provide some great discussion though.
This could have only been written during peace time, which means it was written between the Northern Campaigns and Yi Ling.
Zhuge Kongming wrote:Liu Feng had a duty to help Guan Yu when Guan Yu called upon him for help. Liu Feng chose to do nothing. This is why he was executed, and it was in accordance with military law. The fact that he was Liu Bei’s son, according to the military law, does not give him special treatment in relation to punishment.
The story of Liu Feng’s downfall begins when Liu Bei becomes King of Hanzhong and, as a king must, names his heir apparent: Liu Shan. Zhuge Liang’s anxieties about a challenge to this decision are recorded in Liu Feng’s biography: “Kongming feared that Liu Feng would prove stubborn and assertive and difficult to control in the next reign, so he convinced Liu Bei to get rid of him.” This information about Kongming, a consistent supporter of Liu Shan, is not to be found in either edition of the novel, which connects Liu Feng’s downfall to Guan Yu’s plight in Jing Zhou and Liu Feng’s doom to Guan Yu’s death.
Here in the novel’s version of the circumstances: during the time Guan Yu is hunted down, captured, and finally executed by Sun Quan, Liu Feng and Meng Da are the only ones in a position to send a rescue mission to try to save Guan Yu. Liu Feng and Meng Da have been posted as commanders to the eastern reaches of the Shu-Han Kingdom and thus are close to Jing Zhou, Guan Yu’s sphere. But Liu Feng is either unwilling or unable to send help. Perhaps he refuses it because he knows Guan Yu spoke for Liu Shan as Liu Bei’s heir. Whatever Liu Feng’s motives, when Liu Bei receives a report blaming Liu Feng and Meng Da for the death of Guan Yu, he and Kongming are too angry to forgive, and they have Liu Feng executed when he returns to Cheng Du; Meng Da defects to Wei soon after Guan Yu is killed.
When he defects, Meng Da writes a letter to Liu Bei explaining his change of masters. The letter is preserved in both editions of the novel. Meng Da also writes to Liu Feng urging him to defect, but Liu Feng hotly rejects the proposal, exclaiming: “This villain would break the bond between nephew and uncle and sunder the love of the father and son, making me disloyal and unfilial.” So saying, Liu Feng destroys the letter, executes the courier, and goes forth to challenge Meng Da to battle. His stand, however honorable, fails to save him when he returns to Cheng Du.
Both editions of the novel have the basic story, but only the Three Kingdoms has Meng Da’s letter urging Liu Feng to follow him and defect. The contents of the letter suggest Mao Zonggang’s motive for not including it. Meng Da appeals to Liu Feng by criticizing Liu Bei’s choice of successor: “The selection of Ah Dou [Liu Shan] as heir apparent bitterly disappointed men of discernment…..Turmoil and ruin have ever sprung from the changing o the heir apparent.” The letter moves on from the Shu-Han succession question to argue the superiority of natural to adopted parenthood: “Now, for one to abandon his [natural] parents to become another’s heir violates tradition….. If someone of your ability were to give up his status and come east to resume the place heir to the Lord of Luo [Liu Feng’s father], it could not be a betrayal of a parent.”
Even allowing for Meng Da’s special pleading, this letter’s arguments fits the official record: Liu Bei and Zhuge Liang decided to get rid of Liu Feng in order to clear the way for the chosen heir, Liu Shan, to succeed Liu Bei as Emperor of Shu-Han without a challenge from the only credible rival. And the result of Liu Shan’s ascension as Second Emperor was that “every governmental matter in Shu-Han, great or small, was decided by Kongming.” Thus the question of Liu Bei’s succession, which the Mao edition suppresses, is openly handled in the Three Kingdoms, even if some relevant material in the SGZ is omitted. Once again the 1522 Three Kingdoms proves to be closer to the official record, while the Mao edition tends to develop its own moralizing fictions on certain points.
Mao Zonggang wanted to keep the focus off Liu Feng’s status as Liu Bei’s son and on his own conflicts with Meng Da (whose defection was partly Liu Feng’s fault) as well as on his failure to rescue Guan Yu. Mao omitted any material about Liu Bei and Kongming that might have compromised their portraits as embodiments of traditional Confucian values such as virtue and humanity, the factors of legitimacy. It may be remembered at this point how often the novel makes an issue of the consequences of tampering with succession by the eldest son. Thus, Mao Zonggang’s handling of the Liu Feng incident is in keeping with his advocacy if Liu-lineage legitimacy.
Zhou Gongjin wrote:In SGYY Wei Yan was assassinated because he was going to rebel against Shu. It was a good move. Historically, the whole entire matter is different.
Mao Zonggang exercised great care in reworking the image of Zhuge Liang into an ideal; indeed, this transformation of Zhuge Liang may be considered the heart of the difference between the Mao edition and the Three Kingdoms. Their divergence is revealed again in the way they treat the case of the Shu Commander Wei Yan. Although submerged in the novel, Wei Yan contributed as much to the cause of the historical Shu-Han as Guan Yu, Zhang Fei or Zhao Yun.
When Zhuge Liang leaves Jing Zhou to join Liu Xuande in Shu-Han, he places Guan Yu in charge of the province. When Liu Bei declares himself King of Hanzhong and departs for Cheng Du, he places Wei Yan in charge of the region. The Han Zhong region, a buffer between Shu-Han and the north (or more specifically the Chang An region) is no less important to Liu Bei than Jing Zhou is. Zhang Fei has privately been expecting to assume control of Hanzhong when Liu Bei leaves, but Liu Bei appoints Wei Yan instead, to the army’s amazement. This is noted in the SGZ and not the novel.
Wei Yan is a member of Zhuge Liang’s inner circle and plays a prominent role in the last series of campaigns against the north. His proposal before one of these campaigns in famous. Wei Yan urges Zhuge Liang to strike Chang An directly, but Zhuge Liang chooses instead to maneuver around from Longyou in the west. Later, many think that Kongming might have taken Chang An had he heeded Wei Yan’s advice. Wei Yan comes to prominence after the old guard – Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun – die. Most important, Wei Yan supports Kongming’s war policy, which all the Emperor has some doubts about it.
Still and all, Zhuge Liang doesn’t trust Wei Yan. “He has treason in his bones,” is Kongming’s judgment. (The only basis for this in the SGZ is a remark by Sun Quan that Wei Yan may prove unreliable after Kongming dies.) And so Zhuge Liang attempts to get rid of Wei Yan in the course of his surprise attack on Sima Yi in the Shangfang gorge. Kongming uses Wei Yan to draw Sima Yi into the gorge, where a fiery ambush has been set, but a sudden downpour quenches the flames and enables Sima Yi to escape. Wei Yan would have perished too but for the rains. Afterwards, Wei Yan protests that Zhuge Liang tried to kill him, an accusation found in the Three Kingdoms but not in the Mao edition. Zhuge Liang then arranged to have Wei Yan executed after his death.
At the time of Zhuge Liang’s death, Wei Yan has the vanguard. He wants to send Kongming’s body home and continue the campaign. He is ordered to turn the van into the rearguard, however, and protect a general retreat. Wei Yan refused this order, and a leadership crisis erupts on the battlefield. It may be that Kongming though the army should rest after his death. It may be that Kongming feared his van leader might simply go over to the enemy. It may be that it suited the novelist’s purpose to emphasize a crisis over Kongming’s successor.
Whatever the problem, the editor of the “Li” edition of the Three Kingdoms uses the incident to attack Kongming: “Kongming is no follower of the Kingly way, if only because he contrived to murder Wei Yan… If Wei Yan had committed a crime, why did he not make it public, why did he treat Wei Yan like a Sima?” Mao Zonggang drops the paragraph in which Wei Yan accuses Kongming of trying to kill him. Moreover, Mao assumes that Wei Yan is a potential traitor: “Kongming anticipated Wei Yan’s rebellion and got rid of him before he could act; this shows wisdom… Once Wei Yan has rebelled, Shu-Han would have a foe in Wei Yan as great as Sima Yi. When Wei Yan burned the Cliffside walkway, when he attacked Nanjun, had the northerners found out and turned back, the fate of Shu-Han would be sealed.”
Readers of historical conscience may feel that Wei Yan has been wronged when they turn to the biography that follows Wei Yan’s in the SGZ, that of Yang Yi, Wei Yan’s rival. Yang Yi had expected to succeed Zhuge Liang as Prime Minister of Shu-Han, but Jiang Wan was chosen instead. Indignantly, Yang Yi said he should have defected to Wei when Kongming died. Since Yang Yi is the source of the accusation of treason against Wei yan, the charge becomes suspect.
Zhuge Kongming wrote:I think the statement that Zhuge Liang was working only to increase his rank is very open to personal opinion and debate. Liu Bei promoted him for good deeds and merit. He even arranged for his demotion at one point, something ambitious men do not do. Later, he had to fight to maintain his authority (historically) in the same way that Sima Yi was forced to.
From all the sources I've consulted, the only thing Kongming ever seemed to be concerned about was himself. He disobeyed Liu Bei's request to replace Liu Shan with someone else, and his fued with Wei became his passion and his demise.
Zhuge Kongming wrote:It really isn’t fair to compare the fictional novel Zhuge Liang to the historical writings and suggestions presented by him in relation to this matter. The historical Zhuge Liang did not call the winds, read the heavens, and predict fates.
But the one in both versions of SGYY, and in most people's minds did.
Zhuge Kongming wrote:Zhuge Liang opposed the battle at Yi Ling. Liu Bei made a mistake. Zhuge Liang’s book says nothing about leaving your lord because he makes a poor mistake; his book is about managing generals you command. In fact, I would be eager to call Zhuge Liang a traitor if he left as a result of these actions.
The point was that Zhuge Liang still supported Liu Bei, he just made mention of him not agreeing with Yi Ling, while others have showed much more sincerity (like Zhang Zhao with Sun Quan, and others in Wei). He also could have tried to trick Liu Bei into not going like he tricked him into becoming Emperor.
Zhuge Kongming wrote:This is a mixture of history and SGYY, I can’t really reply without knowing where you want to take this. I will wait on the Ba-Shu part of this discussion, but in relation to Wu I do not agree historically or from the novel. Shu cooperated with Wu to defeat Wei (waits for Han Xin’s reply); they also took territory that was not under Shu or Wu during the process. Sure, Shu took territory that both countries wanted, but in order for it to be a betrayal I think they would have had to attack Wu.
Shu promised to return those lands didn't they? Instead of doing so, they devised tricks to keep it while Liu Bei stole Yizhou.
He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it.