Water Margin

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					Water Margin/
 Shuihu zhuan水滸傳
The Water Margin/
Shuihu zhuan水滸傳
   The oldest fully preserved version of The Water
    Margin date from the early years of the Wanli period
    (1573-1620), although a few chapters still survive
    from an earlier edition (ca. 1550).
   The Water Margin is attributed to Shi Nai’an施耐庵,
    of whose life nothing is reliably known.
   The novel is said to have been revised by Luo
    Guanzhong羅貫中 (the author of Romance of the
    Three Kingdoms), but it has also been claimed that
    Luo collaborated with Shi during the original writing.
   Original version: 100 chapters
The Water Margin/
Shuihu zhuan水滸傳
   The foundation of the book is from individual
    stories of heroes in the corrupt period of the
    Song Dynasty. Such stories are popular
    among the story-tellers/drama from Yuan to
    Ming Dynasty.
   The stories are developed into their matured
    version by various generations, and they are
    well-known among the common people.
   Based on these popular stories, the author of
    The Water Margin arranges these popular
    stories, adding new elements and successfully
    produces a great novel.
The Water Margin
   The novel centers around the tales of the
    noble robbers in the Liangshan Marshes梁山
    泊under Song Jiang’s宋江leadership.
   There is some historical truth in this material.
   In the early years of the 12th century a gang
    led by a certain Song Jiang is known to have
    operated in districts near Kaifeng.
   Later, numerous tales of different origin came
    to be associated with the exploits of this gang.
The Water Margin
   Eventually the band comes to comprise,
    aside from the rank and file, 36 main
    and 72 secondary heroes and heroines,
    each with his or her unique background.
   i.e.108 colorful, daredevil bandit-heroes
   120 chapters in total
The Story
   The first half of the novel tells the stories of
    the various individual heroes.
   In one case after another, most of the hero,
    having rebelled against iniquity and injustice,
    finds himself beyond the pale of the corrupt
    established society and is forced into a life of
    banditry in Liangshan Marshes .
   The story, thus, describes in detail the
    everyday life of various people at that time.
The Story
   The second half concerns the activities of the gang
    as a whole.
   The gang can be considered as a small community,
    and it contains various people to form a self-content
   There are stories that when the gang needs a certain
    person, they set up tricks to force that people to join
    the group.
   As the imperial troops are unable to subdue the
    bandits, they are eventually granted official pardon.
   Subsequently joining the regular army, they take part
    in various campaigns against rebels, and a number of
    the gang’s leaders are killed.
The Story
   Ultimately, in order to ensure that the
    survivors will never again revolt, Song Liang
    poisoned his companion Li Kui李逵during a
    final banquet: the virtue of zhong triumphs
    over yi.
   The 1st part of the novel is undoubtedly the
    more attractive, including as it does a great
    number of more or less independent episodes
    and stories of great variety.
   These stories provide many fascinating and
    un-retouched glimpses of pre-modern
    Chinese society.
Threat-person in The Water
Margin: Song Jiang宋江
   E.g. The most important figure: Song Jiang, the
    leader of the group.
   He appears in almost every chapter since ch.18.
   Character: filial孝(ch.18), generous (in total 25
    times), zhong忠(loyal to the King) and yi義(treasure
   Background: a mid-sized landlord, study Confucian
    text, a clerical official (he knows the suffering of the
    general public; alert, careful and knows how to play
    tricks; accepts law &punishment).
Threat-person in The Water
Margin: Song Jiang
   I. Before he joins the gang:
      1.(ch.18): He ignores law and frees the previous leader of

        the gang, who is his close friend.
      2.(ch.21). He kills his concubine. He is drunk and leaves a

        letter from the gang in his concubine’s place. His concubine
        believes that Song receives a great deal of gold from the
        gang and asks for the total, for she wants to flee with her
        lover. In fact, Song rejects the offer, accepting only a piece
        of gold, which is already given to the concubine’s mother.
        The concubine threatens Song, saying that she will report to
        the government. Song has no choice but kills her.
Threat-person in The Water
Margin: Song Jiang
   Song Jiang is guilty and will be beheaded. His friends
    save him in the last minute. He has no choice but
    joins the gang.
   II. After he joins and later becomes the leader of the
       1. He is highly respected by the group, for he has been
        helpful and generous to the members.
       2. He tightens the discipline of the gang and wins the heart
        of the common people. No more unnecessary killing and to
        share food/resources with the public.
       3. He saves the lives of many gang-members. He launches a
        number of attacks/fights for he wants to save the lives of his
       4. Good management and military skills/ knowledge.
Threat-person in The Water
Margin: Song Jiang
   III. After the gang receive pardon from the
       1.He is loyal to the state. In fact, this quality is
        always in him. After he becomes the leader of the
        gang, he changes the gang’s name from Tsui-yi聚
        義(Brotherhood as a Group) to Zhong-yi忠義
        (loyalty & brotherhood).
       2. They help the government to fight against
        foreign tribe and other gangs (in total, 4 times).
        The foreign tribe invites him to join, offering
        power and wealth, but he immediately rejects the
Threat-person in The Water
Margin: Song Jiang
   IV. After the last victory, they go back to
    Liangshan Marshes :
       1. During the fights, no hero is killed but on the
        way home, many die of illness, some go back to
        their home village, some become monks… By the
        end, only 27 (out of 108) are left.
       2. Sad ending: all 27 do not have a happy ending,
        they are firstly granted official post, but...
       Song Jiang is poisoned by officials and two of his
        close brothers hang themselves by his tomb.
       Song knows that Li Kui李逵 will plea a revenge,
        so he cheats Li also with posion before his death.
Why there is 108 heroes?
   108: 36 heroes and 72 sub-heroes.
   The number of 108 has a special
    meaning in the most ancient text, The
    Book of Change易經(I-Ching).
Why do 108 Heroes join the
   Various reasons:
   I. Being suppressed and forced by corrupted officials, e.g. Lim-
   II. Self-choice: e.g. the first leader of the gang
      He robbers a great deal of wealth from a corrupt official and
        he becomes the no.1 criminal.
      He actively chooses to flee to the gang with the wealth.

   III. Committed certain crime and joining the gang is the only
    way to escape punishment. e.g. the group who save Song Jiang
    at the beheaded area.
Why do 108 Heroes join the
   IV. Those who surrender to the gang: e.g. former military leaders who
    should destroy the gang, but they lose the battle.
       a number of cases after ch.40
       Corrupt government vs. brotherhood of the gang

   V. Needed and therefore being tricked by the gang, then have no
    choice and join. Needed and therefore being tricked by the gang, then
    have no choice and join.
       e.g. The gang needs the intelligent of a certain imperial leader, A,
        and they kidnap A. Sending someone, to pretend to be A, to lead a
        group and kill the whole family of another official. The government
        does not notice the trick, and kill the family of A. A, then, has no
        choice and then join the gang.
Being suppressed, forced by corrupted
   He is, in the beginning, an important official: the
    military trainer of 800,000 soldiers.
   One day, he goes to the temple with his beautiful,
    young wife. Lim, being attracted by a kung-fu show
    (which is performed by a monk, Lu, who is also one
    of the 108 heroes), stops at the entrance. His wife
    goes into the temple and she is flirted by a man. The
    maid rushes out and tells Lim what has happened.
    This is a great shame to Lim-zhung: he is very angry
    but when he find out that the man is the son of the
    prime minister (Ko), he softens down. The monk, Lu,
    knowing what happens, gets some friends to catch
    Ko. After Lu leaves, Lim releases Ko.

   First trick: Ko persuades Lok, the
    swore-brother of Lim-zhung, to invite
    Lim’s wife to his place, so that he can
    rape her. Lim finds out and saves his
    wife. Lim brings a knife to Lok’s place
    and breaks everything there.
   Notice that Lim does not have place his
    anger on Ko, who is in power. This is
    already the second time that Ko places
    shame on him.
   Second trick: Ko arranges Lim to bring weapons to a
    weapon-prohibited area. Lim is heavily punished and
    is sent to the border. Before he leaves home, he
    writes a divorce-letter to his wife. Lim is caring and
    also innocent. He does not know when he can come
    back so he sets his wife free. He is innocent because
    he think that as long as the woman is no longer his
    wife, then Ko will not give her any trouble.
   Third trick: In the way to the border, the two soldiers
    treat Lim badly. They use boiling water to wash
    Lim’s feet. Before they sleep, they want to tie Lim up
    (as they want to kill him). Lim is naïve and allows
    them to tie him up. Luckily, the monk, Lu, is
    following Lim-zhung and he save Lim’s life. Lu wants
    to kill the two soldiers but Lim insists to free them, as
    they are merely obedience to their superior.

   Fourth trick: Lim arrives the border and his
    job is to take care of grass for the horses.
    Lim thinks that, eventually, he can live in
    peace. The area is on fire on the next day
    and Lim’s first response is to extinguish the
    fire. Lim is so kind that he never imagine that
    purpose of the fire is his life. Then he runs to
    the temple and hears his swore-brother, Lok,
    and his people plan to collect his bones
    (among the ashes) for rewards from Ko, the
    son of the prime minister.

   This time, Lim cannot suppress his
    anger any more. He is so angry with
    Lok because “brotherhood” is no longer
    exist between him and his swore-
   Lim kills all these people and he has no
    choice—but to join the gang.
Analysis of The Water Margin
   The heroes of The Water Margin are bandits
    who were originally landlords, runners,
    gentlemen farmers, monks, schoolteachers,
    military instructors, tailors, merchants,
    teachers, peasants, fishermen, and laborers.
   Their deeds are described minutely, often in
   Same as Romance of the Three Kingdom:
       Successful & vivid descriptions of heroic figures as
        that in. Every figure has its strengths and
        weaknesses, just as any human.
       The achievement/life of the heroes surpass the
        everyday life of ordinary people.
Analysis of The Water Margin
   A step further than Romance of the Three
       Figures in Romance: stereotyped, e.g. Zhuge
        Liang seems to be the most intelligent person, but
        why and how? No background, personality
        development is given, as there is a lack of
        description in one’s everyday life.
       Figures in Water Margin: Detailed description of
        their background, life experiences, even clothing,
        to reflect their personality. Then, the readers
        understand why he/she acts in such a way.
Analysis of The Water Margin
   Many stories of reflects the fact that the
    government in late Ming Dynasty is
   Not only the common people suffer,
    even the high officials suffer a lot.
   The gang can attract so many members
    because more than half of them are
    being suppressed.
Writing Style of The Water
   Both the dialog and the narrative are written
    in the spoken language of the day.
   Much use is made of storytellers’ phrases,
    stereotyped ways of beginning and ending a
    chapter, of signaling a change of subject
    within a chapter etc.
   Couplets, poems, songs, and rhymed
    passages in the parallel style are often used
    to voice the author’s judgment of a person or
    situation, or to add emphasis to a description.
Editions of The Water Margin
   The standard version nowadays of the
    novel is the edition prepared by Jin
   He was an original and opinionated
Jin Shengtan’s Edition of The
Water Margin
   Jin’s version of The Water Margin differs
    markedly from previous editions.
   He reduced the novel to 70 chapters by
    having it end at the moment when all 108
    leaders are united.
   He also wrote a new finale, in which one of
    the heroes, Lu Junyi, witnesses in the dream
    the execution of all the other leaders.
   Jin also added his critical commentary in the
    form of a general introduction, introductions
    to the individual chapters, and interlinear
    comments (in which he often praises his own
    alterations of the text).
Jin Shengtan’s Edition of The
Water Margin
   In 1920s and 1930s, Jin was
    unanimously praised as a great early
    companion of baihua /modern literature,
    but in the People’s Republic of China he
    was long condemned, for it was claimed
    that his edition casts a negative light on
    what was actually a peasant rebellion.
   Since 1980s (after the Open Door
    policy), Qin has again been regarded
    more favorably.

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