The Translators

Join the Romance of the Three Kingdoms discussion with our resident Scholars. Topics relating to the novel and history are both welcome. Don't forget to check the Forum Rules before posting.
Kongming’s Archives: Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Three Kingdoms Officer Biographies
Three Kingdoms Officer Encyclopedia
Scholars of Shen Zhou Search Tool

Unread postby PrimeMinister Bu Zhi » Fri Aug 06, 2004 3:16 pm

When I read the novel, I skipped three things:
Most of the Hulao gate battles. To me, hearing them say, "he dueled for 50 bouts", over and over again is really annoying. I skipped the part where Liu Bei conqeured south Jing except for Changsha. I read up to the Xing Dorang thing and it really bored me, especially Zhuge Liang running away on his wheel chair. And I missed some of the battles with Jiang Wei. Those were boring.
PrimeMinister Bu Zhi
Scholar of Shen Zhou
Posts: 1002
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2004 9:22 pm
Location: Jiao

Unread postby James » Fri Aug 06, 2004 5:26 pm

SGYY Moss Roberts; Note 9, Chapter 15 wrote:Here Luo Guanzhong nods, and the remainder of this chapter may seem tedious. The events leading to an independent Southland under Sun Quan (Ce’s brother) are important history, nonetheless. If the reader wishes to skip to the last page of the chapter, the gist of the story is this: Sun Ce defeats the legitimate imperial inspector of Yangzhou, Liu Yao; wins to his side the great warrior Taishi Ci; and conquers the southern districts of Wujun and Kuaiji. In this way Sun Ce lays the foundation for the southern kingdom that his brother Quan will inherit and rule as regional hegemon and eventually as emperor. The chapter ends with Yuan Shu’s preparing to attack Liu Xuande.

That’s the exact note from the book. Looking back, I’m glad he was specific about it having historical value. Also, I had forgotten Taishi Ci’s duel was after this point. I really enjoyed that duel, and remember it clearly. The stuff after it, for the most part though, really wasn’t very exciting, and I just remember enough to put it into a bullet-point list. I would personally never skip something unless I was a) bored with it, and b) it was for class, but since this was reading for pleasure that earned a chuckle, I ignored the summary, and went back to reading.
Kongming’s Archives – Romance of the Three Kingdoms Novel, History and Games
“ They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  — Ben Franklin
User avatar
Sausaged Fish
Sausaged Fish
Posts: 17958
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2002 3:21 pm
Location: Happy Valley, UT

Re: The Translators

Unread postby Exar Kun » Fri Aug 06, 2004 11:00 pm

Kong Wen wrote:One of the most hilarious endnotes I have ever seen in my life is in Moss Roberts's translation of SGYY. Note 9 to chapter 15 essentially tells the reader "The rest of the chapter is boring. If you want to skip it, here is what happens." Those who have read the book a couple of times might remember that one--it is the chapter in which Sun Ce goes around conquering territory and fighting minor warlords. It's just a hilarious thing for someone to say in a book they obviously care a lot about.

I agree with Roberts now and I agreed back then.Of course then and now I have had a well known hatred for all things Wu and the word "Sun" in that book had amazing valium-like properties for me but essentially to most readers that chapter is rather useless.

Certainly if you care about Wu or really want to knoe everything then it's great but the conquest of Wu is rather boring not to mention that the actual methods of conquest really doesn't do anything for later in the book.Sun Ce steamrolled those southern buffoons so easily you can't even say that you can use it to get a handle on his form of tactics.
"Two there should be; no more, no less.
One to embody the power, the other to crave it."
-Creed of the New Sith-
User avatar
Exar Kun
Dark Lord of the Sith
Posts: 3346
Joined: Thu Jan 23, 2003 12:18 am
Location: Cruising the Nether

Unread postby Kong Wen » Sun Aug 29, 2004 10:18 am

I suppose this goes here. I recently looked through my abridged edition of the novel, just to see what kind of a picture of the Three Kingdoms story readers of the shortened edition would get, and here is some of the information I came up with.

Obviously, in an abridgement of such a long book, almost every chapter is going to be shortened in some way, and many are going to be omitted completely. To help the reader follow the chain of events through omitted material, Roberts provides his own commentary between edited sections. This is interesting to me, as a student of the development of the literature itself, because it is the only form of the text in which we get to see Roberts doing a lot of in-text commentary.

The following chapters are completely omitted by Moss Roberts in the abridged edition of the novel (with chapter titles borrowed from Three Kingdoms Online Novel:

10 - Gathering Arms, Ma Teng Moves To Rescue The Emperor; Commanding A Force, Cao Cao Marches To Avenge His Father.
11 - Liu Bei Rescues Kong Rong At Beihai; Lu Bu Defeats Cao Cao Near Puyang.
12 - Tao Qian Thrice Offers Xuzhou To Liu Bei; Cao Cao Retakes Yanzhou From Lu Bu.
13 - Li Jue and Guo Si Duel In Changan; The Emperor Establishes Anyi The New Capital.
14 - Cao Cao Moves The Court To Xuchang; Lu Bu Leads A Night Raid Against Xuzhou.
15 - Taishi Ci Fights With The Little Prince; Sun Ce Cuts Short The White Tiger King.
16 - In The Camp Gate, Lu Bu Shoots The Halberd; At River Yu, Cao Cao Suffers A Defeat.
17 - Yuan Shu Marches Out Seven Armies; Cao Cao And Three Generals Join Forces.
18 - Giving Counsels, Jia Xu Directs A Great Victory; Braving Battlefield, Xiahou Dun Loses An Eye.
19 - Cao Cao Makes Flood In Xiapi; Lu Bu Perishes At The White Gate Tower.
22 - Yuan Shao And Cao Cao Both Take The Field; Guan Yu And Zhang Fei Captures Two Generals.
23 - Mi Heng Slips His Garment And Rails At Traitors; Ji Ping Pledges To Kill The Prime Minister.
24 - Cao Cao Murdered The Consort Dong; Liu Bei Flees To Yuan Shao.
29 - The Little Chief Of The South Slays Yu Ji; The Green Eyed Boy Lays Hold On The South Land.
30 - Shunning Advice, Yuan Shao Loses Leaders and Granaries; Using Strategy, Cao Cao Scores Victory At Guandu.
31 - Cao Cao Overcomes Yuan Shao In Cangting; Liu Bei Seeks Shelter With Liu Biao In Jingzhou.
32 - Jizhou Taken: Yuan Shang Strives; River Zhang Cut: Xun You Schemes.
33 - A Gallant Warrior, Cao Pi Marries Lady Zhen; An Expiring Star, Guo Jia Settles Liaodong.
55 - Liu Bei Rouses The Spirit Of Lady Sun; Zhuge Liang A Second Time Angers Zhou Yu.
58 - Ma Chao Launches An Expedition For Revenge; Cao Cao Flees The Field In Disguise.
59 - Xu Chu Strips For A Fight With Ma Chao; Cao Cao Writes A Letter To Han Sui.
61 - In The River, Zhao Zilong Recovers Liu Shan; With One Letter, Sun Quan Repulses Cao Cao.
62 - The Taking Of River Fu Pass, Yang Huai and Gao Pei Perish; The Siege Of Luocheng, Huang Zhong and Wei Yan Rival.
63 - Zhuge Liang Mourns For Pang Tong; Zhang Fei Releases Yan Yan.
64 - Zhuge Liang Plans For The Capture Of Zhang Ren; Yang Fu Borrows Soldiers To Destroy Ma Chao.
66 - Armed With Sword, Guan Yu Goes To A Feast Alone; For The State, Empress Fu Offers Her Life.
67 - Cao Cao Conquers Hanzhong; Zhang Liao Terrorizes Xiaoyao.
68 - Gan Ning's Hundred Horsemen Raid The Northern Camp; Zuo Ci's Flung-Down Cup Fools Cao Cao.
69 - Guan Lu Sees Things In The Book Of Changes; Five Loyal Subjects Die For Their State.
70 - Zhang Fei Takes Wakou Pass With Tactics; Huang Zhong Captures Tiandang Mountain By Stratagem.
71 - At Opposite Hill, Huang Zhong Scores A Success; On The River Han, Zhao Zilong Conquers A Host.
72 - Zhuge Liang's Wit Takes Hanzhong; Cao Cao's Army Retires To The Ye Valley.
74 - Pang De Takes His Coffin To The Field; Guan Yu Uses Water To Drown The Seven Armies.
79 - Brother Oppressing Brother: Cao Zhi Composes Poems; Nephew Harming Uncle: Liu Feng Receives Punishment.
82 - Sun Quan Submits To Wei, Receiving The Nine Dignities; The First Ruler Attacks Wu, Rewarding Six Armies.
83 - Fighting At Xiaoting, The First Ruler Captures An Enemy; Defending The Three Gorges, A Student Takes Supreme Command.
86 - Using Words, Qin Mi Overcomes Zhang Wen; Setting Fire, Xu Sheng Defeats Cao Pi.
87 - Conquering The South Mang, The Prime Minister Marches The Army; Opposing Heaven Troops, The King Of The Mangs Is Captured.
88 Crossing River Lu: The Mang King Is Bound The Second Time; Recognizing A Pretend Surrender: Meng Huo Is Captured The Third Time.
89 The Lord of Wuxiang Uses The Fourth Ruse; The King of Mang Is Captured The Fifth Time.
90 Chasing Off Wild Beasts, The Prime Minister Defeats The Mangs For The Sixth Time; Burning Rattan Armors, Zhuge Liang Captures Meng Huo The Seventh Time.
92 - Zhao Zilong Slays Five Generals; Zhuge Liang Takes Three Cities.
93 - Jiang Wei Goes Over To Zhuge Liang; Zhuge Liang Reviles Wang Lang.
94 - Zhuge Liang Defeats The Qiangs In A Snowstorm; Sima Yi Captures Meng Da By A Rapid March.
97 - Sending A Second Memorial, Zhuge Liang Renews The Attack On Wei; Forging A Letter, Jiang Wei Defeats The Northern Army.
98 - Pursuing The Shu Army, Wang Shuang Meets His Death; Raiding Chencang, Zhuge Liang Scores A Victory.
99 - Zhuge Liang Defeats The Wei Army; Sima Yi Invades The West River Land.
100 - Raiding A Camp, The Shu Soldiers Defeat Cao Zhen; Contesting Array Battles, Zhuge Liang Shames Sima Yi.
101 - Going Out From Longshang, Zhuge Liang Dresses As A God; Dashing Toward Saber Pass, Zhang He Falls Into A Snare.
102 - Sima Yi Occupies The Banks Of River Wei; Zhuge Liang Constructs Mechanical Bullocks And Horses.
106 - Suffering Defeat, Gongsun Yuan Meets His Death; Pretending Illness, Sima Yi Deceives Cao Shuang.
107 - The Ruler of Wei Hands Over The Power To Sima Yi; Jiang Wei Is Defeated At Ox Head Hills.
108 - In The Snow, Ding Feng Wins A Victory; At A Banquet, Sun Jun Executes A Secret Plan.
109 - A Ruse Of A Han General: Sima Zhao Is Surrounded; Retribution For The House Of Wei: Cao Fang Is Dethroned.
110 - Riding Alone, Wen Yang Repulses A Brave Force; Following The River, Jiang Wei Defeats The Enemy.
111 - Deng Ai Outwits Jiang Wei; Zhuge Dan Battles Sima Zhao.
112 - Rescuing Shouchun, Yu Quan Dies Nobly; Attacking Changcheng, Jiang Wei Mobilizes.
113 - Ding Feng Makes A Plan To Slay Sun Chen; Jiang Wei Arrays A Battle To Defeat Deng Ai.
114 - Driving To The South Gate, Cao Mao Plunges Into Death; Abandoning Stores, Jiang Wei Defeats The Wei Army.
115 - Listening To Slander, The Latter Ruler Recalls His Army; Living In Farms, Jiang Wei Avoids Disaster.
116 - On Hanzhong Roads, Zhong Hui Divides The Army; In Dingjun Mountain, The Martial Lord Shows His Apparition.
117 - Deng Ai Gets Through The Yinping Mountains; Zhuge Zhan Falls In The Battlefield Of Mianzhu.
118 - Weeping At The Ancestral Temple, A Filial Prince Dies; Marching To The West River Land, Two Leaders Competes.
119 - The False Surrender: A Wit Scheme Becomes A Vain Plan; The Abdication: Later Seeds Learn From The Ancient.
120 - Recommending Du Yu, An Old General Offers New Plans; Capturing Of Sun Hao, Three Kingdoms Becomes One.

It should be noted that chapters 34 to 50 are largely intact (i.e. completely unabridged).

So what do we have? Most of Cao Cao's moments as a "protagonist" (i.e. his substantial strategic military victories) are omitted completely and simply glossed by Roberts. Many of the chapters in which the Sun family plays an integral role are omitted or shortened significantly. The chapters involving the establishment of Shu and Zhuge Liang's planning through to the end of Chibi are largely intact.

At first glance, it would appear that Roberts has a strong tendency to Shu's side of the story, but it should also be noted that most of the Nanman material is left out or significantly shortened, and pretty much all of Jiang Wei's involvement got the axe. Indeed, all of the later history of the Three Kingdoms is chopped down into a single chapter that includes the lengthy poem on the end of the era.

My view is that Roberts has a good understanding of what the text is about, and tries to convey that sense to the reader with this abridgement. He cuts much of the redundant material (the Nanman campaign was a bit long in the full version) and pares the whole story down to what Luo Guanzhong built his massive epic around: the conflict between Cao Cao and Liu Bei, exemplified in Zhuge Liang. In trimming the story down to a very basic portrayal of Liu Bei as a good guy and Cao Cao as a villain (or at least a powerful opposing force), Moss Roberts is loyal to the sense of the original text.

In short, if someone who had never even heard the names Cao Cao, Zhuge Liang, Guan Yu, or Liu Bei were to pick up this edition of the book, the general theme of the story would not be entirely lost. Liu Bei's plight is still there. Wu not doing much of anything is there with even more textual economy (I am not saying it is fair, I am just stating what Luo Guanzhong actually did). Roberts's notes provide enough interesting information about the omitted events/sections (e.g. Lü Bu's downfall) that a reader who enjoys the book may eventually want to continue on to the unabridged edition. If so, mission accomplished.

If anyone is interested, the story itself runs from page 3 to page 407 (a total of 404 pages). This edition does not include any foot/end notes, but Moss Roberts's excellent afterword is included in its entirety (pg. 409-478, 69 pages, the same length as approximately 17% of the story itself).
"We spread the time as we can, but in the end the world takes it all back."
— Roland Deschain, Wolves of the Calla
User avatar
Kong Wen
The Bronze Age of SoSZ
The Bronze Age of SoSZ
Posts: 11857
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2003 7:38 pm
Location: Canada


Return to Sanguo Yanyi Symposium

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

Copyright © 2002–2008 Kongming’s Archives. All Rights Reserved