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Three Kingdoms TV movies


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4 hours ago, amytheorangutan said:

He tried to read it and found it dry and boring, unlike how he remembered reading it in Chinese


I too find Moss Roberts version hard to read. The Chinese is not just more entertaining but also quite beautiful, no translation can do it justice - I've only read parts of it in sites that have both the English and Chinese versions.


I've read sample pages from the newest 3 volume translation by Yu Sumei, edited by Ronald Iverson. It's a much easier read than Moss Roberts' translation, much less stifled and wordy, without being too dumbed down.


I was weaned on online versions of Brewitt-Taylor's translation, which included corrections to the original, explanatory notes and comments. There's an abridged version (400+ pages, and a full one 1490pp.)  It was very popular among  gamers. I found these sources:


University of Adelaide
(I can't see any notes)


Guttenberg self-publishing press / Worldlibrary (Downloadable as pdf, illustrated and annotated. Format not very good for the Kindle)



There are many versions of the Chinese original online. I haven't explored them, but like the one in the Chinese Text Project, which also has the first 52 chapters of an English translation alongside:


For lists of characters (good also for getting the names in Chinese)


Chapter by chapter:


There's also a Three Kingdoms encyclopaedia, the Konming's Archives:
Parts are still active but many of the links are dead.


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I've only read a few pages. I don't think it will be dry once I've got my head around the main characters, for instance Cao Cao appears in the first episode of the videos.

I may of course give up if I don't get into it. I'm going to make notes on some of the characters - they are in Wikipedia. 

The Moss Roberts translation has a lot of notes in the second volume, which are very useful. The problem is that I need to have both volumes open to follow them, unless I go over the top and scan the notes, of which there are many pages.

I think the beginning will be very slow work, but once I have a better feeling for the background I hope it will go faster. 


Which is the podcast? I don't have the advantage of finding the English more boring than the Chinese! I will have to make my own mind up about it.

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Actually, that new 2014 translation does exactly what I want: I can download it and click on the footnotes. 


I am not convinced it is easier to read. The Moss Roberts is deliberately archaic, and this Sumei Yu and Ronald C. Iverson one isn't.


Moss Roberts:

Here begins our tale. The empire, long divided, must unite: long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.



Unity succeeds division and division follows unity. One is bound to be replaced by the other after a long span of time. 


Reading on, I think they both read well.


About reading literature in translation: I do hope that one day I will have enough Chinese to read a few pages, but nothing wrong with maybe starting with the videos, going on with the translation and later returning to it. I know when I read War and Peace in translation, I am not getting the real thing, but I know in my mind while I'm reading it that it is a translation, and I get what I can. Of course, for those of you whose reading Chinese is so much better, it may be worth knowing that the translation is inferior to the original (no surprise there).

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Apologies, Shelby. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGZYbr2Ki5Q&t=910s 


It has English (and Chinese) subs, but is a different production. 


Number 64 remains a mystery. Here are a couple of candidates:



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I think John who does the podacst said that the English translation is pretty hard to read. He tried to read it and found it dry and boring, unlike how he remembered reading it in Chinese and that’s why he decided to do the podcast.



I have just listened to the seven-minute introduction to the podcasts (000). What John actually says is that when he read the Chinese version, he had all the characters and stories partly in his head already, whereas for his friend to read it in English it was just a collection of names and battles. I agree, I need to prepare for the reading, and I think the TV series will be the ideal introduction to the novel. The reason the English translation is dry and boring is because as a non-Chinese person I am starting it blind. 


I also listened to about 10 minutes of the 001, first episode of the podcast and I found it harder going than reading the equivalent pages in the translation.  He was just rattling through the story, which I am sure is great for those who would rather listen to a podcast than read, or who have long times when it's convenient to listen to a podcast. I remember hearing John in a Sinica podcast talking about the Three Kingdoms podcast - had forgotten all about it. 

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33 minutes ago, Zeppa said:

I also listened to about 10 minutes of the 001, first episode of the podcast and I found it harder going than reading the equivalent pages in the translation.


@Zeppa -- His delivery improves a lot as he gets into the story. After 8 or 10 podcasts, if I recall correctly. Don't give up on him. Agree with you that it was pretty dull and unpolished at first. Even hesitant in places. 

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He has re-recorded some of the earlier episodes, but I don't really like his reading style and the podcast is not much juicier than the book. But mainly I don't have a space in my day to listen to podcasts, so it's not entirely his fault :-)


I am reading the Moss Roberts translation. It is indeed fairly dry, but I think to a large extent the story is just hard to read. Right now I'm reading about Taishi Ci, who is taking a letter to Liu Bei to help out Kong Rong who is besieged by Guan Hai and his Yellow Turbans, and Mi Zhu has asked Kong Rong to come to the aid of Tao Qian who is besieged by Cao Cao because Tao Qian's man Zhang Kai (a former Yellow Turban) killed Cao Cao's entire clan when his father Cao Song & his family were travelling to join him. All this in three or four pages, and at least half of these guys just show up without any prior connection to the story (and when there is a prior connection it was so many pages and names ago that I already forgot). Whenever someone goes to battle, we are told the names of all his star warriors, half of whom are then killed with one blow in the next paragraph. This stuff is just complicated.

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I agree with Lu. On the website John writes that his recording equipment and reading style improve after 50 episodes, but in the 000 introduction, he says he has redone the first episodes. I have now listened in to 20 and 148 and they both sound just the same. I don't have space for more podcasts, and I already have a few I fail to get round to. The reading voice is very flat. John will have cut out some of the minor characters, but I still find it easier to read than to hear. The only advantage for me is that he pronounces the names with tones. There is no way round the fact that the novel is heavy going, though. The detailed descriptions of all the warriors remind me of some medieval German epics I did at university, and in fact I have been trying to read Willehalm but decided I need to read the modern translation, and it is much the same (but shorter!). 

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