Wu Guotai (the other Lady Wu)

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Wu Guotai (the other Lady Wu)

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:24 am

Mod Edit (James): Discussion Split from San Guo Zhi Pinghua

See? What'd I say.

Zhang Fei is god damn unstoppable.

I think we should make a distinction though. Correct me if I'm wrong. But to my understanding Wu Guotai is a fictional character, she's not Lady Wu. Lady Wu died well before the events surrounding Red Cliff (208, she died in 202).
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Qu Hui » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:50 am

Crazedmongoose wrote:I think we should make a distinction though. Correct me if I'm wrong. But to my understanding Wu Guotai is a fictional character, she's not Lady Wu. Lady Wu died well before the events surrounding Red Cliff (208, she died in 202).

This is something I've been wandering about as well. In the Moss Roberts version of the novel, Lady Wu is said to have a sister who, upon her death, becomes like a mother to Quan and Shangxiang. This is presumably Wu Guotai.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:57 am

Qu Hui wrote:
Crazedmongoose wrote:I think we should make a distinction though. Correct me if I'm wrong. But to my understanding Wu Guotai is a fictional character, she's not Lady Wu. Lady Wu died well before the events surrounding Red Cliff (208, she died in 202).

This is something I've been wandering about as well. In the Moss Roberts version of the novel, Lady Wu is said to have a sister who, upon her death, becomes like a mother to Quan and Shangxiang. This is presumably Wu Guotai.


It's the same in my Brewitt-Taylor edition.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:11 am

Yep, in the novel. Basically when her sister married Sun Jian she came along. But there's no mention of this Wu Guotai in any historical texts. And Yi Zhongtian says the idea that a sister came along with Lady Wu was quite ridiculous as Wu's family didn't even want to marry her off, let alone give another daughter over to Sun Jian.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Sun Fin » Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:23 pm

Crazedmongoose wrote:Yep, in the novel. Basically when her sister married Sun Jian she came along. But there's no mention of this Wu Guotai in any historical texts. And Yi Zhongtian says the idea that a sister came along with Lady Wu was quite ridiculous as Wu's family didn't even want to marry her off, let alone give another daughter over to Sun Jian.


Not that ridiculas if you think it through. The fact that she lived a few years longe her sister meas that she could of been a few younger and so didn't get married until later. He became relatively sucesful with Wu Jing being under his command so whats to say he didn't marry another sister later?

But as you say theres nothing historical this is just hypothetical.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Xu Yuan » Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:16 pm

History? This is San Guo Zhi Pinghua! Pang Tong's ghost saves Huang Zhong, Xu Shu knows magic, Liu Bei becomes a "righteous bandit", Zhang Fei duels and Defeats Lu Bu! Of course it's not historical, haha.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Crazedmongoose » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:23 pm

Yes but the character of Wu Guotai exists in a lot of folklores so it's important to explore whether this character existed.

However as I said, not a single historical text makes mention of her.

Mod Edit (James): This response from Crazedmongoose pasted in from other thread.

Yi Zhongtian states that Wu Guotai was invented as a literary device to denigrate Wu's officers and advisors. But I can't remember what she does in SGYY.

edit: Okay I got it

ROTK, chapter 43 wrote:125 "Retire for a time," said his master. "I must think it over carefully."
126 So Lu Su left the chamber. Among the soldiers some wished for war, but of the civil officers, all were in favor of surrender; and so there were many discussions and much conflict of opinion. Sun Quan went to his private apartments greatly perplexed. There his worry was easily discernible, and he neither ate nor slept. He was quite unable to decide finally upon a course of action.
127 Then Lady Wu, the sister of his late mother, whom he also regarded as his own mother, asked him what so troubled him, and he told her of the threatened danger of Cao Cao and the different opinions his advisers held one and another and all his doubts and fears.
128 "If I fight, I might fail. But if I offer to surrender, perhaps Cao Cao will not tolerate me," said he.
129 Then she replied, "Have you forgotten the last words of my sister?"
130 As to one recovering from a fit of drunkenness, or waking out of a dream, so came to him the dying words of the mother who bore him.
131 His mother's advice he called to mind,
"In Zhou Yu's counsels you safety find."

So Yi's theory is that historically and in SGYY, the events surrounding the Sun-Liu alliance happened very differently.

In SGYY, the main architect and instigator of the alliance was Zhuge Liang. Sun Quan's camp has only one hero, and that's Zhou Yu. Lu Su was a good guy but completely useless, and Sun Quan was young and indecisive. The rest of the southern scholars were all cowards who wanted to surrender. However it didn't make sense that Sun Quan would be convinced so utterly by this outsider alone on a course of action.

Also Zhuge Liang needed to shine over Zhou Yu during the negotiations stage (ie. Zhuge Liang's battle of wits with Zhou Yu which never historically occurred) So he had to seek some high status help within Wu. Of course, Lu Su and Sun Quan were both too stupid to think to bring back Zhou Yu. So they'd have to bring in another character. Lady Wu had died already, so it was necessary to create a fictional Wu Guotai to remind Sun Quan to bring back Zhou Yu.

In actual history of course Sun Quan, Lu Su and Zhou Yu were all brilliant men and had all made up their minds before meeting Zhuge Liang (debatable for Sun, definitely for Lu and Zhou) and certainly none of those three needed extensive hand holding from Zhuge Liang before they faced Cao.


I don't know if I agree with Yi's theory, it seems to be going a bit far. But then we should never under-estimate how far the three kingdoms subculture for centuries is willing to go to glorify Shu and her heroes.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby James » Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:32 pm

I'd love to hear more about Wu Guotai—especially given it seems there's not a whole lot of information floating around about her in English. Does anybody know something more about her background, from whatever sources she's evolved in, and her role in literature? And is this the SGYY mention being discussed?

SGYY; Chapter 7 wrote: Here it may be said that Sun Jian had four sons, all the issue of his wife who was of the Wu family. Their names in order were Sun Ce, Sun Quan, Sun Yi, and Sun Kuang. Sun Jian had a second wife who was the sister of his first wife. And the second wife bore him a son and a daughter, the former called Sun Lang, the latter Sun Ren. Sun Jian had also adopted a son from a Yu family and named him Sun Hu. And he had a younger brother named Sun Jing.

Here is her information from Romance of the Three Kingdoms XI. I'm curious what they manage to cover there. Any translators up to run through the Japanese? Might as well save some information about her for the Encyclopedia. I can split the Wu Guotai discussion off to a new topic. :)
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Qu Hui » Wed Mar 24, 2010 1:48 am

Sun Jian definatly had, at the very least, another concubine who bore him two more daughters. This perhaps is who Wu Guotai was or who she was based off of.
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Re: San Guo Zhi Pinghua

Unread postby Lady Wu » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:11 am

I have no twin. There is no historical mention of a sister to Lady Wu. Sun Jian did have a concubine or something who bore him Sun Lang. Sun Ren is another name recorded for Sun Lang. The Lady Sun married to Liu Bei was not given a name in historical texts; Sun Ren was SGYY's idea, and SSX from folk literature. I've always found this second Lady Wu a strange literary device. It's almost as if SGYY had to have a "mother of Sun Quan and Lady Sun" in order to play out the story of Liu Bei's marriage, but didn't want to give up the claim to historicity (?) by not killing off the One and Original Lady Wu earlier in the story. So this second Lady Wu was created (I'm suddenly and strangely reminded of the ghola in Frank Herbert's Dune series).

The RTK11 entry:

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Sun Jian's second wife. Mother of Sun Lang and Sun Ren (SSX). Her sister, Lady Wu, was Sun Jian's first wife, who bore him Sun Ce, Sun Quan, and Sun Yi.

Yanyi: [same story that we know]
History: Not recorded. Sun Lang was a son of Sun Jian borne not by his main wife. "Sun Ren" was another name for Sun Lang. Whether or not Sun Lang and Lady Sun (SSX) are full siblings.
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