Romance of the Three Kingdoms Volume 1 (Tuttle Classics) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2002/6/30
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This epic saga of brotherhood and rivalry, of loyalty and treachery, of victory and death forms part of the indelible core of classical Chinese culture and continues to fascinate modern-day readers.
In 220 EC, the 400-year-old rule of the mighty Han dynasty came to an end and three kingdoms contested for control of China. Liu Pei, legitimate heir to the Han throne, elects to fight for his birthright and enlists the aid of his sworn brothers, the impulsive giant Chang Fei and the invincible knight Kuan Yu. The brave band faces a formidable array of enemies, foremost among them the treacherous and bloodthirsty Ts'ao Ts'ao. The bold struggle of the three heroes seems doomed until the reclusive wizard Chuko Liang offers his counsel, and the tide begins to turn.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms is China's oldest novel and the first of a great tradition of historical fiction. Believed to have been compiled by the play-wright Lo Kuan-chung in the late fourteenth century, it is indebted to the great San-kuo chi (Chronicles of the Three Kingdoms) completed by the historian Ch'en Shou just before his death in 297 CE. The novel first appeared in print in 1522. This edition, translated in the mid-1920s by C. H. Brewitt-Taylor, is based on a shortened and simplified version which appeared in the 1670s. An Introduction to this reprint by Robert E. Hegel, Professor of Chinese and Comparative Literature at Washington University, provides an insightful commentary on the historical background to the novel, its literary origins and its main characters.
"One of the greatest and best-loved works of popular literature." —Dictionary of Oriental Literatures商品の説明をすべて表示する
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First, I must confess, I hate the modern Pinyin system of romanization. I cannot abide in a system where letters do not have the proper values. I mean, an entire generation of Americans (and God help the ignorant French!) will pronounce names like Cao Cao as "Cow Cow", or the Qin dynasty as the "Kwin" dynasty. The Brewitt-Taylor translation uses the old Wade system, and while it can be hard on the eyes, the reader gets a sense of at least the rough pronunciation (Cao Cao is rendered Ts'ao Ts'ao, Qin is rendered Ch'in, etc).
Also, Brewitt-Taylors translation is nice to listen to. "Empires wax and wane, states cleave asunder and coalesce"; the sound itself is beautiful, and yet still renders the sense clearly. The Roberts translation certainly succeeds in the latter, but the beauty is lost. However, Brewitt-Taylor requires a very great vocabulary, whereas Roberts is more tame in this regards. Still, this was a book for scholars, and the translation should at least reflect that.
Again, if you have no familiarization with the events of this tale, the complete rainstorm of names is daunting indeed. Always keep in mind the three separate forces (Cao Cao of Wei, Liu Bei of Shu and the Sun family of Wu) as well as a few of the other players (Zhang Jiao of the Yellow Scarves, Dong Zhuo, Lu Bu, Yuan Shao. Liu Biao and Liu Zhang) and you'll do fine. The book itself, in my opinion, is the greatest book ever told, succeeding in being at once a work of strategy, psychology, government, warfare, and human emotion, and there is nothing like it in the lexicon of Western literature. Enjoy!
Part of the popularity of three kingdoms in Japan must be credited for Eiji Yoshikawa, the author of Musashi, focusing more on the story of Liu Bei(Shu emperor),Guan Yu, Zhang Fei, and Zhuge Liang. Comic book adaptation by Mitsuteru Yokoyama who is best known by the author of Iron Man(Tetsujin)#28Tetsujin 28: The Complete Set paved the way for current three kingdom boom in Japanese pop culture in general. Liu Bei, an heir of Han Dynasty ruling clan, is a humane leader supported by Guan Yu, deft both in brain and might maybe eastern version of Knight, Zhang Fei,short tempered but really strong warrior, and Zhuge Liang the master of strategy.
Rivaling Lie Bei is another giant Cao Cao outstanding ruler and historically known as one of the finest compilers of Sun Tzu's Art of War. Cao Cao courting the emperor Xian nearly took hold of the whole Chinese continent but was blocked by the allied forces of Wu and Shu in 208 as the dramas such as Red Cliff International Version - Part I & Part II depicted. Cao Cao is a bit demonized in this story but he is in fact one of the greatest rulers China ever had comparable to Napoleon. Lie Bei who has little power gradually gains by charming a lot of talented people by his couteousness yet with propaganda tactics to demonize Cao Cao. Cao Cao soon recovered from the defeat of the Chibi battle and with the finest staff collected from the whole continent he sought to break the alliance of Shu and Wu. After the death of Cao Cao, Cao Pi took over and named himself the emperor of Weihan. But Weihan would eventually be overthrown by Sima clan who would subdue both Shu and Wu but Lie Bei, Guan Yu and Zhuge Liang are still loved and idealized by Chinese public.
On first reading you will be enjoying the way the characters outsmart the other camps. On second reading you will be struck by the humanity upon which the story is based. It is much more than a legend. It will surely get you closer to the mind of either Chinese and Japanese. But be careful. The way character name is pronounced differ between Chinese and Japanese. Such as Cao Cao is pronounced in Japanese as SOSO.
Now I must add a few things for newer 3k fans who encountered this epic through koei games. Koei adopts Pinyin system for three kingdom character names and pinyin method has almost subdued English speaking community. Brewitt Taylor uses Wade system differing so much from the way the character names were currently spelled. For example. Cao Cao is spelled T'sao T'sao. As you can see older system is useful in pronunciation ideas.
Verdict: Excellent translation getting you much closer to this Chinese epic. Must-read for chivalry novel fans.
Rating: 94 out of 100. A bit cut by spelling confusion as I mentioned.
Recommended for the fans of Sun Tzu's Art of War, Chinese dramas or action and war fictions.
What I will review - and what I have significant problems with - is the Tuttle edition for Kindle. I can't really speak on the printed edition, but a lot of my criticisms, I suspect, will apply.
Firstly, there are a ton of typos. I'm averaging one per page now. Things like:
"Today her son is on the throne and all the officials are her friends/ and her influence is enormous."
It seems petty, and normally I'd ignore it, but it gets on your nerves after a while.
The fact that there are so many of these errors speaks to a lack of proper editing, I think, which leads to my next point: a lot of the prose is pretty bad, stylistically. It varies from place to place, but it's at best annoying and at worst a serious impediment. More than once I've had to stop and ask myself: "who is the subject of this sentence?" or even "who is the direct object?" which takes me out of the action while I have to parce the previous paragraph and see who the translator is talking about.
The register of the translation changes as well - one second a character might be speaking in a very formal, periphrastic "bureaucratese" and then end the sentence with something jarringly vernacular. It seems like a minor issue, but things like that can confuse characterization and are just generally poor usage. More generally, the dialogue is stilted and artificial: "The originator of the plan to injure your brother was Chien Shih." Stylistically, it's an awkward sentence - why phrase it like that? It seems pretty obvious that the translator was probably not a native speaker - which is fine, as long as there's a strong editor to clean things up, which seems to be lacking here.
The next one is a bit of a preference thing, I'll admit: usage of Wade-Giles. When I was learning Chinese, Pinyin was the ONLY romanization used. Say what you want about the merits of Wade-Giles, but Pinyin is what people are going to generally be familiar with today. So when I read through this and see (I think) Kongsun Tsan, I have to stop and translate it in my head: "Kongsun Tsan? Is that Gongsun Zan?" (I've read this book - different editions - a number of times, so I'm familiar with the characters. Otherwise I'd honestly be lost.)
Now I hear what you're saying: "but what about the people that don't know anything about China? Wade-Giles would be so much simpler. That way people aren't pronouncing Cao as Cow!"
There are a number of other issues in the book that make that a questionable argument. Firstly, WG has its issues here as well - Kongsun's "Kong" is not pronounced as in King Kong. There are a number of reasons why it would make a bit of obscure linguistic sense to write it that way for romanization purposes, once more to do with consnant voicing, but someone utterly unfamiliar with Chinese would be tripped up by it just as well as they would with Pinyin's c equalling (roughly) [ts]. But this is a huge digression.
For the uninitiated there are somewhat larger issues. Most notably, the usage of ranks. The book is a bit ambivalent about this: when we first meet Guangong, the book notes that this signifies he is Lord Guan (as gong = lord). Other times, however, the book introduces ranks (Chinese ranks) without a single explanation of what it is: "so-and-so was at the time occupying the rank of ssu-tu." Well, ok - what is this rank? Where is it on the hierarchy? Is it low or high?
For the record, ssu-tu is situ or "Minister of Education." It's worth noting that the edition didn't even get this right: ssu-tu would be si-du in Pinyin, as tu=du and t'u=tu. If you care, the apostrophe (as far as I know) here represents differentiation in consnant voicing.
Why was it necessary to tell us this character was "ssu-tu" without explaining WHAT it was? (The Minister of Education, an important post, which would help explain why this person was in a position to plan a coup.) The book does this a number of times, which makes the sections revolving around court intrigue especially painful, as we're told person x had position a, person y had position b and person x had position c, with the positions generally not elaborated upon.
The worst part is when the book half does this and half doesn't: "Commissioner X told Y Ssu-tu [note the Chinese syntax for titles] such-and-such." Some titles are fully translated and some aren't - so we're hearing Empress Ling tell Tung T'ai-hou (=Dowager Empress) something. It then switches. Overall, INCREDIBLY confusing for a book that has so many important interludes in the highly stratified court.
So we have a confused usage of ranks (some English, some Chinese, some mixed) which at times have no explanation as to what they are or where they are in the court hierarchy. At best, we've been briefed once, and it's NEVER touched again. Why couldn't the translator simply render "ssu-tu" as Minister of Education throughout the book? What would it have taken away that was more important than clarity?