Shui Hu Zhuan, or Water Margin or All Men Are Brothers

I just finished reading all 1279 pages of Shui Hu Zhuan, or Water Margin or All Men Are Brothers, translated by Pearl Buck, it is one of the four most famous Chinese novels from the 1400’s. It is the stories of 108 famous martial artists who all become bandits in the south. They had a mountain lair at Mount Liang, surrounded by marshes and lakes. The great purpose of these adventures was to show how good men were punished, branded and sent to prison if the officials of a regime were corrupt. These great warriors, through their skill and honor, escaped to fight again.

I wonder if this book, in its various formats, is banned in China today, since it is about successful rebels against corrupt officials.  Professor Peter Perdu at Yale criticized my novel on 18th century Vietnam, saying the young Vietnamese men should swear. His source for this idea, was this novel. On rereading the novel, I see that the Professor was right. There is a lot of swearing, but it is not like our swearing today. Examples would be: that old biting insect, let your mother pass her dog’s wind, you false piece of skin and bones, ah bitter, ah bitter. These were examples of swearing in Shui Hu Zhuan.

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