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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 with Liu

Diao Chan in The Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Bei and went against Cao Cao, which embodies the people's common desire to uphold a wise emperor and repudiate despotism in feudal society.

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 novels.

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 Liang's wisdom.

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.


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