Thursday, November 1, 2007

Three Kingdoms

New Project: Three Kingdoms.

It's a trip. A long one.

Often compared to the Iliad, and one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, Three Kingdoms is the classic work of Luo Guanzhong (c. 1330 -c. 1400). This novel, and the story of the Three Kingdoms, has influenced Chinese (and now American) culture much in the same way that Shakespeare has transformed the lives and times of Richard II and Richard III for Western audiences. Three Kingdoms has inspired manga, various TV series and video games.

Three Kingdoms is a complex tale with over 100 principal characters. Written in both plain and Classical Chinese, Luo Guanzhong's text was considered the standard text for 300 years, and the Moss Roberts unabridged translation encompasses two books at about 550 pages each. It tells the story of the end of the Han dynasty and its division into three battle hungry kingdoms. (This dates somewhere between a.d. 200-280.)

A Chinese friend suggested the Moss Roberts translation, and even though my eyes fell out of their sockets when I saw the long list of characters and about 93 pages of notations, I knew I had to read this book. I don't have much experience with Chinese literature, and have been working on rectifying this.

If you have any interest in Chinese history, literature, or just an epic story, here is what you should think when you hear the title Three Kingdoms: MUST READ.

Has anyone read Three Kingdoms? Would love to hear your thoughts...

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