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.