San Guo Yan Yi
San Guo Yan Yi,known as The Romance of the Three
Kingdoms in English, was written
in the early Ming
Dynasty (1368-1644) and was based on folk legends, storytelling
scripts, and dramas.
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the most popular historical
novel in China. It starts from the uprising of the Yellow Turbans and ends in
the unification of the Western
Jin Dynasty (265-316), revealing the turbulent events between 184 and 280.
Through descriptions of the political, military, and diplomatic confrontations
among various sections of the ruling class, the novel exposes the underside of
society in the late Eastern Han
Dynasty (25-220), criticizes the violence of the feudal rulers, mirrors the
people's sufferings, and expresses the people's longing for a sage emperor and a
stable life. The author followed the tradition of popular stories and took sides
Bei and went against Cao Cao, which embodies
the people's common desire to uphold a wise emperor and repudiate despotism in
|Diao Chan in The Romance of the Three
The plot in the novel is mainly based on history books and folk legends. The
author combines realist and romantic styles in writing the novel. The basic
expressive technique is realist, but the arrangement of some plots and the
portraying of the historical figures are at times full of romantic color.
The structure of the novel centers on the conflict between the
two kingdoms, Shu and Wu, with the plot evolving around the struggles between
the three powers, Wei, Shu, and Wu. The novel, while maintaining consistency in
the development of plot, is full of complexities and variations. Its structure
achieves a combined grandness and compactness rarely seen in Chinese classic
The Romance of the Three Kingdoms describes all types of struggles and
warfare among different political cliques through the vivid recounting of a
series of intricate stories. The author devoted great effort in portraying the
characters in the novel. Taking "The Battle of the Red Cliff" as an example, he
writes about all the intrigues in the Wu Kingdom, the internal strife within the
Wu clan, the formation of the Sun Quan-Liu Bei alliance, and the two sides'
preparation for war, using eight chapters just to give prominence to Zhuge
Luo Guanzhong chooses his words well in depicting wars. In the same piece, he
describes the Sun Quan-Liu Bei alliance with long, very detailed paragraphs,
while only giving a few words to the defeated Cao Cao's army. By doing so, he
highlights the key points without wasting many words.