Romance of The Three Kingdoms
Romance of the Three Kingdoms, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, is a historical novel set amidst the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history, starting in 169 CE and ending with the reunification of the land in 280 CE
Myths from the Three Kingdoms era existed as oral traditions before written compilations. With their focus on the history of Han Chinese, the stories grew in popularity during the reign of the Mongol emperors of the Yuan Dynasty. During the succeeding Ming Dynasty, an interest in plays and novels resulted in further expansions and retelling of the stories.
The earliest attempt to combine these stories into a written work was a pinghua, Sanguozhi Pinghua (simplified Chinese: 三国志评话; traditional Chinese: 三國志平話; pinyin: Sānguózhì Pínghuà; literally "Story of Records of the Three Kingdoms"), published sometime between 1321 and 1323. This version combined themes of legend, magic, and morality to appeal to the peasant class. Elements of reincarnation and karma were woven into this version of the story.
In the 1660s, during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor in the Qing Dynasty, Mao Lun (simplified Chinese: 毛纶; traditional Chinese: 毛綸; pinyin: Máo Lún) and his son Mao Zonggang (simplified Chinese: 毛宗岗; traditional Chinese: 毛宗崗; pinyin: Máo Zōnggāng) significantly edited the text, fitting it into 120 chapters, and abbreviating the title to Sanguozhi Yanyi. The text was reduced from 900,000 to 750,000 characters; significant editing was done for narrative flow; use of third party poems was reduced and shifted from conventional verse to finer pieces; and most passages praising Cao Cao's advisers and generals were removed. Scholars have long debated whether the Maos' viewpoint was anti-Qing (identifying Southern Ming remnants with Shu-Han) or pro-Qing.
This novel reflects Confucian values that were prominent at the time it was written. According to Confucian moral standards, loyalty to one's family, friends, and superiors are important measures for distinguishing good and bad people.