Review: ‘The Three Kingdoms’, Luo Guanzhong

Three Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four VolumesThree Kingdoms: Classic Novel in Four Volumes by Luo Guanzhong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is, without a doubt, one of the finest books I have ever read. Not only is the translation readable and enjoyable, but it also carries the elan of the original narrative!

At this stage, I would normally cut in with a negative aspect, some character I did not like, or other unfavourable opinions. What is remarkable about the ‘Three Kingdoms’ is that although it is not missing this aspect in the story, these people and events are written in such a way that it is clearly not the author’s fault they are there but rather that he is writing down the history of what happened (if occasionally fictional). As such, this book is also a beautiful illustration of the fallacies of humankind — how much wiser and cleverer we think we are, how easily we are deceived, and how much else goes on that we forget to include in our thoughts.

Having this vantage point into a history that spans a hundred-years and in words which have become a cultural phenomenon is absolutely stunning! The simple rapidity with which the characters in the novel repeat their earlier mistakes should worry all of us, as should their chronic inability to learn from the failures of others — but that’s just how the saying goes, isn’t it?

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