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Sun Quan with Sword
I tossed and turned in bed for the last few nights, wondering if I should tough it out and watch the Young Warriors of the Yang Clan to the bitter end.

Stories of injustice and people dying and such really affect me so I foresee myself being depressed for months afterwards.

But I have this strange feeling that I somehow owe it to the awesome Yang family to witness their heroics all the way to the end, no matter what the end is.

Argh! Torn!

You'd think that being Chinese I should be completely desensitized to this by now. After all, 9 out of 10 of the most important stories and pieces of literature in the Chinese culture are depressing as hell. I mean, I grew up with wonderful and happy novels such as:

  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms: The novel attempts to create an honourable protagonist in the Shu Kingdom, which eventually went down in massive dishonorable flames. But ultimately it doesn't matter which kingdom you root for. They all get destroyed at the end anyway, by some grandson of this guy that's portrayed as an antagonist and who you really don't care about.
  • Water Margin: A bunch of people became outlaws for socio/economic/political/other reasons. And then they accepted an amnesty from the government and went to fight wars on the government's behalf where they all died horrible deaths. The end. (Most Chinese editions out there cut out everything after the gathering of the 108, thus avoiding the depressing last 30 chapters; Unfortunately I have the full version.)
  • Dream of the Red Chamber: Follows the story of the fall of a ginormous and prestigious family. The angsty protagonist struggled with growing up, but when he finally did, his world was destroyed, and so he went off to be a monk.
  • The Investiture of the Gods: Epic epic fantasy novel with a huge cast of wonderful heroes who all die gruesome deaths (and I mean graphically gruesome) in massive magical battles and whatnot. The only consolation prize is that their spirits get to be enshrined as gods at the end. Yippee.
Plus various stories of cultural heroes, like the ever-heartwarming story of Yue Fei (loyal and invincible general of the Song Dynasty who was framed by an evil and powerful minister and was summoned back to court where he was tortured and executed at the ripe old age of 39).

We Chinese are a cheery lot.

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If you want, I can tell you when the misery starts, once I get to it.

Your explanation of the miseries of classical Chinese literature probably explains why I like period cdramas - I grew up with Russian classics which are every bit as depressing and ditto on the historical events.

OK, now I am curious if there is a drama about Yue Fei.

I think my Russian would be way better than what it is now, if Russian literature/history wasn't so damn depressing and I have some incentive to practise reading stuff. As of now I haven't graduated from my book of Maminy Skazki because I know nothing else is safe (ok, I did plough through a couple of Fandorin novels with heavy dictionary use--this was when I had a raging crush on him).

I remember watching Yue Fei dramas back in the late 80's/early 90's. I should check if there's a more recent one. I'll let you know.

Re: YWotYC misery--the Ineffable Battle of Immense Misery isn't until 35 or 36, that much I do know. Right now I'm leaning towards stocking up on Kleenex and toughing it out, but I may feel differently when it gets closer.

I think if there is one theme that sums up classical Chinese lit, it'd be something like "what do people do in face of cosmic and cyclic futility". I guess that's where Wuxia comes in, as a popular reaction to institutionalized inevitability---where people can defy social conventions and take matters into their own hands and challenge that futility.

If you want to practice your Russian, I know a website which has a ton of Russian books in text format - they have YA and children's lit stuff too so that's easier.

I used to like Fandorin novels :)

Oooh do share do share!


(I prefer Moshkow myself as better and easier formatted but MMV)

Ooooh thanks!

I actually know of the first site as that's where I found the translation for Troyetsarstviye. But I haven't looked very carefully for anything else. Will check them out!

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