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If you’re familiar with the fact that I am enrolled in Pacific & Asian Studies, you may already know the answer to this: The Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義) the famous novel which makes up one of four of the Great Classics of Chinese Literature. I’ve read, at various points, Water Margin, Dream of the Red Chamber, and this one as well, but never got around to Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which I am trying to amend. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the longest one, at a walloping 2,340 pages (My copy came in two volumes to keep it from splitting on the spine)

It’s an extremely complex novel, we weren’t required to read the entire thing for my course, but I did because I had a very easy job at that point and could read at my leisure during slow shifts, and I figured that I could better my understanding of the course and better my papers by completing it. This isn’t something you read for pleasure, trust me. It’s very convoluted, written in the rather elaborate and most august prose reserved for English translations of Classical Chinese and Japanese, and filled with the names of different characters who each have their own role to play. It takes a lot of mental and sometimes even physical energy to get through each chapter, compared to a more humorous or magical book like The Water Margin. But there’s no denying that it’s played an important part in the formation of Chinese thought and culture, there’s a rich treasury of references and allusions in Chinese culture that derive from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, almost on par with the historical and cultural significance that the Bible has in the Western world. I’m glad I finished it, even if it was a chore.

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