Outlaws of the Marsh/Chinese Classics/Boxed Set Paperback – Jun 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
Chinese history tells us that the outlaws of the Shantung Province marshes really existed; the story that comes down to us is based on their legendary exploits during the reign of the Sung emperor from 1101 to 1125. Sidney Shapiro's translation, neither too formal nor overly colloquial, preserves the original vernacular and brings the book vividly to life, while preserving such typically Chinese features as the double-sentence chapter headings, and chapter endings telling the reader to "Read the next chapter if you would know" what is about to happen next.
The book is a rousing, old-fashioned action/adventure story, with lots of blood, gore, and battle scenes. Sagacious Lu, Stumpy Tiger Wang, and the other marsh outlaws are no angels, any more than Robin Hood, Little John and the other Sherwood Forest gang were, but they represent the good guys as brothers in arms against a corrupt government. "Outlaws of the Marsh" has been adapted into films, picture books, puppet shows, and at least one American novel called "All Men are Brothers" by Pearl S. Buck. Children all over China know the heroes of this story by heart. Sidney Shapiro gives us a great gift in bringing their exploits to the English-speaking world.
I have seen great things said about "Outlaws of the Marsh" and I agree with them. I especially laud the translation as successful though I haven't read others. The book was written in the 14th century in "colloquial style" Chinese (similar to modern speeches), in contrast to "literal style" Chinese which contains its own set of grammer and vocabulary (almost impossible to understand to people unlearned in that format). This book follows a very colloquial approach and the occasion use of some ribaldry which I deem to be essential in conveying the nuance of the original. Regardless,there is a certain loss in the conveyance of its 14th century time setting and that is only inevitable due to the particular nature of the Chinese laguage.
After the good things said, I have to make a few warnings of the politically incorretness in this book which I don't necessarily consider the downsides of the book if not the valuables in a historical and anthropological sense.
First of all, the villains and churls in this book are the protangonists indeed and this is even unusual in Chinese literatures of background alike. Violence is imbued throughout the book and the deaths are the most gruesome as our heroes are but blood-thirst men of desparation. A Chinese idiom puts it well in particular to this book: The young ought not to read "Outlaws of the Marsh" and the old ought not to read "Three Kingdoms". The reason behind this saying is that the former involves too much violence for the testosterone-driven mind of youth and the latter involves too much schemes, shrewdness for the calculative mind of maturity.Read more ›
The violence in this book is one that stands out to many people. However, to me, it is not the violence, but certainly the legend being lay out before those who willing to accept that it was their destiny to be fulfilled. It is beyond the understanding of violence. in fact, it wasn't violence at all. the violence was forced out off them. violence was one that was put out by the culture in which their time requires them to be. They were guided by stars in their individual rights. Their prowess and virtue were certainly a period that cannot easily match or compare with by any other time, but maybe except the romance three kingdoms period. This story is much more than a mere period in time, it was an epic struggle for truth and justice in the face of violence that society has brought on to them. Brotherhood was built upon one thing, that is loyalty and honor. Their brotherhood was set upon one purpose in life, for glory. the glory that makes what legends all about. These people had nothing to lose, for many the brotherhood is all they have. For many reasons there, and what society had taken from them, they had managed to survive and upheld what is long lost and disappearing in this time, that is an ideal hero. In a period of chaos , heroes will arise, and so came the 108 heroes. Their individual abilities, prowesses, stories, and deeds left an imprint on this world shown being the brightest stars in heaven. what came to be an end, came to be a legend, the legend of 108 heroes was passed along through time.
Most recent customer reviews
Hard to follow....too many similar sounding names....too many events and dates....got to learn Chinese and read it in its original lingo!Published 20 months ago by frosty
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