Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture

Three Kingdoms and Chinese Culture

Edited by Kimberly Besio and Constantine Tung
State University of New York Press, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7914-7011-4

A multi-disciplinary exploration of China’s first great classical novel, Three Kingdoms, and its influence on Chinese culture. This is the first book-length treatment in English of Three Kingdoms (Sanguo yanyi), often regarded as China’s first great classical novel. Set in the historical period of the disunion (220–280 AD), Three Kingdoms fuses history and popular tradition to create a sweeping epic of heroism and political ambition. The essays in this volume explore the multifarious connections between Three Kingdoms and Chinese culture from a variety of disciplines, including history, literature, philosophy, art history, theater, cultural studies, and communications, demonstrating the diversity of backgrounds against which this novel can be studied.


Some of the most memorable episodes and figures in Chinese literature appear within its pages, and Three Kingdoms has had a profound influence on personal, social, and political behavior, even language usage, in the daily life of people in China today. The novel has inspired countless works of theater and art, and, more recently, has been the source for movies and a television series. Long popular in other countries of East Asia, such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, Three Kingdoms has also been introduced to younger generations around the globe through a series of extremely popular computer games. This study helps create a better understanding of the work’s unique place in Chinese culture.

Three Kingdoms is one of the greatest novels in all Chinese literature. This volume addresses it from historical, philosophical, literary, theatrical, military tactical, and popular cultural perspectives and is a significant and useful companion to Moss Roberts’ English translation of the novel.


Table Of Contents

Foreword: The Language of Values in the Ming Novel Three Kingdoms, by Moss Roberts

Introduction, by Kimberly Besio and Constantine Tung

1. Cosmic Foreordination and Human Commitment: The Tragic Volition in Three Kingdoms, by Constantine Tung – available online

2. Essential Regrets: The Structure of Tragic Consciousnessin in Three Kingdoms, by Dominic Cheung

3. The Notion of Appropriateness (Yi) in Three Kingdoms, by Jiyuan Yu

4. The Beginning of the End: The Fall of the Han and the Opening of Three Kingdoms, by George A. Hayden

5. Selected Historical Sources for Three Kingdoms: Reflections from Sima Guang’s and Chen Liang’s Reconstructions of Kongming’s Story, by Hoyt Cleveland Tillman

6. Zhuge Liang and Zhang Fei: Bowang shao tun and Competing Masculine Ideals within the Development of the Three Kingdoms Story Cycle, by Kimberly Besio


7. The Theme of Three Kingdoms in Chinese Popular Woodblock Prints, by Catherine Pagani

8. Three Kingdoms at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century: The Shanghai Jingju Company’s Cao Cao and Yang Xiu, by Elizabeth Wichmann-Walczak

9. From Three Kingdoms the Novel to Three Kingdoms the Television Series: Gains, Losses, and Implications, by Junhao Hong

10. The Reception and Place of Three Kingdoms in South Korea, by Jinhee Kim

11. Studies of Three Kingdoms in the New Century, by Bojun Shen (Translated by Kimberly Besio)


Click here to go to the Publisher’s Website

Book Review from the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies