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The saga of the Three Kingdoms—which recounts the dramatic story of the civil wars (ca. 180–220 CE) that divided the old Han Empire into the Shu, Wei, and Wu states—remains as popular as ever in China, having served as the basis of not only traditional operas and ballads, but also, in more recent years, of movies, television dramas, and video games.
Translated into English for the first time here, the Sanguozhi pinghua (thirteenth century CE) provides a complete and fast-paced narrative account of the events of the period, from the beginning of the civil wars to the demise of the Three Kingdoms and the short-lived reunification of the realm by the Jin dynasty. Shorter, clearer, and more accessible to Western audiences than Luo Guanzhong’s later, greatly expanded Romance (Sanguo yanyi)—and beautifully rendered in this edition by two modern-day masters of the art of Chinese literary translation—the Records of the Three Kingdoms in Plain Language provides an ideal introduction to one of the foundational Chinese epic traditions.
Tables of major Chinese dynasties and reigns, a guide to understanding formal Chinese naming conventions, a glossary of Chinese names and terms, and reproductions of some woodcuts from the original edition of the text are included.
"A rollicking story cycle translated into lively English and ideal for undergraduate instruction. Also a crisp yet well annotated Introduction. Idema and West are two the best!"
—Paul R. Goldin, University of Pennsylvania
"Idema and West have been collaborating on the production of scholarly works on, and translations of, Chinese vernacular literature for decades and their work has set a very high standard for scholarly value, accuracy, and readability.
"This is their second volume on popular treatments of the famous Three Kingdoms period, a fascinating age that, as a topic, has dominated both traditional Chinese fiction and drama. . . . Records of the Three Kingdoms in Plain Language . . . presents a comprehensive introduction to all of the main characters (Liu Bei, Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, Cao Cao, Zhou Yu, etc.) and events (the Oath in the Peach Garden, The Battle at the Red Cliff, The Single Sword Meeting, etc.) that are so well known in China and deserve to be even better known in the West."
—David Rolston, University of Michigan
About the Authors:
Wilt L. Idema is Research Professor of Chinese Literature, Harvard University.
Stephen H. West is Foundation Professor of Chinese, Arizona State University.