Monday, January 14, 2008

4 masterpieces of classical Chinese literature

The search of ancient Chinese for the authentic teachings of Buddha in India provides the historical backdrop of one of the four magnum opuses of classic Chinese literature, Journey to the West. The other three masterpieces are Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin (or Outlaws of the Marsh or All Men Are Brothers) and Dream of the Red Chamber. By 1988 when I was 26 years old, I had finished reading the first three in their full classical Chinese-language editions but until now, I still have not even opened the first chapter of Dream of the Red Chamber yet simply because of the genuine lack of time.

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4 Comments:

Blogger kittykat46 said...

Wah...All going through all 4 Chinese editions of Journey to the West, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, The Water Margin and Dream of the Red Chamber is quite a major task. My Chinese just isn't up to it.
I only managed to read the English translations of the volumes, but as usual with any translation, some of the original deeper meaning is lost.

2:16 AM  
Blogger James Wong Wing-On said...

that's why i used to laugh secretly when some mca blokes thought i was an angmo-type when i was seen to be only writing about us, europe, world bank, pacific commands, lord acton ... when i was a leader writer in sin chew. by the way, my problem is that i lack interest in reading softie-softie love story like Dram of the Red Chamber. in traditional Chinese cosmology, i belong to the yang (as contrast to the yin) type.

3:44 AM  
Blogger ehchang said...

I read the 3 books except the Dream of the Red Chamber in Chinese during my secondary school days. Those days our Chinese language competency were good enough to read these books and many others by Ba Jin, Jin Yong, Lu Xun, Zhang Ai Ling, Qian Zhong Shu, Bai Xian Yong and others not so classic like Zhang Xi Guo etc. Alas nowadays, my wife who is a Chinese language teacher in secondary school always laments that most of her students do not even know who Ba Jin is, let alone having read his books.

8:59 PM  
Blogger James Wong Wing-On said...

The works of Ba Jin and Lu Xun were my favarites too and they are the the forerunners of Chinese modernity and progressive social thoughts and opinions.

9:56 PM  

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