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Luo Guanzhong And The Romance of the Three Kingdoms

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms was written in the early Ming Dynasty It was based on folk legends, story telling scripts and dramas.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the most popular historicalnovel in China. It starts from the uprising of the Yellow Turbans andends in the unification of the Western Jin Dynasty, revealing the turbulentevents between AD 184 and 280. Through descriptions of the political,military and diplomatic confrontations among various sections of theruling class, the novel exposes the underside of society in the late EasternHan Dynasty, criticizes the violence of the feudal rulers, mirrors thepeople's sufferings and expresses the people's longing for a sageemperor and a stable life. The author followed the tradition of popularstories and took sides with Liu Bei and went against Cao Cao, whichembodies the people's common desire to uphold a wise emperor andrepudiate despotism in feudal society.

The plot in the novel is mainly based on history books and folklegends. The author combines realist and romantic styles in writing thenovel. The basic expressive technique is realist, but the arrangement ofsome plots and the portraying of the historical figures are at times full ofromantic color.

The structure of the novel centers on the conflict between the twokingdoms, Shu and Wu, with the plot evolving around the strugglesbetween the three powers, Wei, Shu and Wu. The novel, while maintainingconsistency in the development of plot, is full of complexities andvariations. Its structure achieves a combined grandness and compactnessrarely seen in Chinese classic novels.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms describes all types of strugglesand warfare among different political cliques through vividly recountingof a series of intricate stories. The author devoted great effort in portrayingthe characters in the novel. Taking "The Battle of the Red Cliff" as anexample, he writes about all the intrigues in the Wu Kingdom, the internalstrife within the Wu clan, the formation of the Sun Quan-Liu Bei alliance,and the two sides' preparation for war, using eight chapters just to giveprominence to Zhuge Liang's wisdom. Luo Guanzhong chooses his wordswell in depicting wars. In the same piece, he describes the Sun Quan-Liu Bei alliance with long, very detailed paragraphs, while only giving afew words to the defeated Cao Cao's army. By doing so, he highlightsthe fulcrum without wasting many words. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms created a large number oflively characters, making great contributions to the development of theChinese classic novel. The author reveals the distinct characters of theheroes by placing them in intense conflicts. For example, in "The Battleof the Red Cliff," in one scene, he exhibits Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu'sgreat talent and bold vision, Huang Gai's loyalty, Lu Su's integrity andhonesty, and Jiang Gan's self-righteousness.

The novel adopts extensive literary exaggeration and contrast indepicting the characters, which manifests the author's advancedexpressive techniques. For example, to show Guan Yu's bravery andmarvelous martial arts, instead of describing directly how he performson the battlefield, the author takes pains to depict his adversary's valor,the deafening drums during the battle and the still warm wine, whichGuan Yu had heated before going out to meet and kill his enemy.

The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is written in clear, concise andvivid language. The dialogue in the novel plays an important role in revealingthe characters personalities. Zhang Fei's straightforwardness, Guan Yu'ssuperiority, Cao Cao's craftiness and Kong Ming (Zhuge Liang)'s clevernessare revealed in a few very simple words.

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