Unpacking the Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Romance of the Three Kingdoms“It is a general truism of this world that anything long divided will surely unite, and anything long united will surely divide” (話說天下大勢,分久必合,合久必分).

These lines open the epic historical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, one of the Four Great Novels of Chinese literature. It is a book that offers incredibly (though perhaps not succinct) insight into the Chinese view of the world, especially history, as the above quote suggests.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms was written in the 1300s by Luo Guanzhong, who is also often attributed with Outlaws of the Marsh, another of the Four Great Novels.

Set in the 2nd and 3rd centuries in China, Romance of the Three Kingdoms chronicles the rough end of the dynasty. It follows the struggles and battles of warlords and nobles as they fought to maintain or gain power. Eventually, three main families come into play, and these become the Wu, Shu and Wei states, ushering in the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history. Read the rest of this entry »