The Outlaws Of The Marsh(Water Margin)

The Outlaws Of The Marsh(Water Margin)

The Outlaws Of The Marsh(Water Margin)

Water Margin (known in Chinese as Shui Hu Zhuan, sometimes abbreviated to Shui Hu), also known as Outlaws of the Marsh, Tale of the Marshes, All Men Are Brothers, Men of the Marshes, or The Marshes of Mount Liang, is a 14th-century novel and one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. Attributed to Shi Nai'an and written in vernacular Chinese, the story, set in the Song Dynasty, tells of how a group of 108 outlaws gathers at Mount Liang (or Liangshan Marsh) to form a sizable army before they are eventually granted amnesty by the government and sent on campaigns to resist foreign invaders and suppress rebel forces. The novel was originally titled in Chinese Jianghu Haoke Zhuan (江湖豪客傳), and the title was sometimes extended to Zhongyi Shuihu Zhuan (忠義水滸傳). It has introduced to readers many of the most well known characters in classical Chinese literature, such as Wu Song, Lin Chong and Lu Zhishen.


The opening episode in the novel is the release of the 108 Spirits, imprisoned under an ancient stele-bearing tortoise.

The next chapter describes the rise of Gao Qiu, one of the primary antagonists of the story. Gao Qiu abuses his status as a Grand Marshal by bullying Wang Jin, whose father taught Gao a painful lesson when the latter was still a street-roaming ruffian. Wang Jin flees from the capital with his mother and by chance he meets Shi Jin, who becomes his student. The next few chapters tell the story of Shi Jin's friend Lu Zhishen, followed by the story of Lu's sworn brother Lin Chong. Lin Chong is framed by Gao Qiu for attempted assassination and almost dies in a fire at a supply depot set by Gao's henchmen. He slays his foes and abandons the depot, eventually making his way to Liangshan Marsh, where he becomes an outlaw. Meanwhile, the "Original Seven", led by Chao Gai, rob a convoy of birthday gifts intended for the Imperial Tutor Cai Jing, another primary antagonist in the novel. They flee to Liangshan Marsh after defeating a group of soldiers sent by the authorities to arrest them, and settle down there as outlaws as well, with Chao Gai as the chief of the band. As the story progresses, more people come to join the outlaw band, among whom include army generals and civil servants who grew tired of serving the corrupt government, as well as men with special skills and talents. Stories of the outlaws are told in separate sections in the following chapters. Connections between characters are vague, but the individual stories are eventually pieced together by chapter 40 when Song Jiang succeeds Chao Gai as the leader of the band after the latter is killed in a battle against the Zeng Family Fortress.

The plot further develops by illustrating the conflicts between the outlaws and the Song government after the Grand Assembly of the 108 outlaws. Song Jiang strongly advocates making peace with the government and seeking redress for the outlaws. After defeating the imperial armies, the outlaws are eventually granted amnesty by Emperor Huizong. The emperor recruits them to form a military contingent and allows them to embark on campaigns against invaders from the Liao Dynasty and suppress the rebel forces of Tian Hu, Wang Qing and Fang La within the Song Dynasty's domain.

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