Around the World in 80 Books discussion

Archives > Four classic Ming novels

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Hock (new)

Hock Tjoa (hockgtjoa) By far the most popular of the four great Ming novels is The Journey to the West or Stories of the Monkey King. It has been frequently translated and is based on an actual pilgrimage made in the 7C A.D. by a monk in search of Buddhist scriptures. But it is mostly about the adventures he and his bodyguards have against those who would attack them--men, ghosts, things that go bump in the night.

Almost as popular is The Water Margin, a story about rebels who were honorable men but became outlaws due to the injustice of the system. There are many scenes of Robin Hood like generosity but mostly it is full of repetitive and senseless violence--in my opinion. Pearl Buck, it appears, didn't think so and she translated most of it.

The Dream of the Red Chamber is actually a work from a later dynasty and replaced a Ming novel that was deemed pornographic by one who helped translate it (he refused to let his name be associated with it). The Dream is the most literary and sophisticated of the four and much read in academic circles; scholars specialize in studying it and have made so many students read it that there is even a version in Cliff Notes.

Finally, there is my own favorite, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It tells about civic virtues such as honor and loyalty as well as general values such as humanity, courage and friendship. I found it a bit long and unfocussed--it is supposed to tell of the fall of the Han dynasty and rise of the Three Kingdoms in the late 2C and early 3C A.D. I have selected and translated what I consider to be the main parts of it as The Battle of Chibi.

It is available as a Kindle book for FREE Sept. 24-28, 2012.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I would like to read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I'm reading a novel now, almost finished, takes place in Jamaica. Although it takes place in Jamaica the story is more about the Chinese community in Jamaica who live life more like gangsters. It's the underbelly of Chinese society. Thank you for your post I enjoyed reading it. The title of the novel I'm reading is Pao by Kerry Young.

back to top