A core Course of General Education An outline of the Traditional Chinese Culture 中国传统文化概览 Shandong University Contents

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Outlaws of the Marsh

Outlaws of the Marsh is the first novel in the history of Chinese literature that depicts the whole developmental process of peasant uprisings. It is thought to be a representative work of the heroic legendary novels of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The novel is based on the raw materials taken by its authors from historical chronicles and folk legends. Its authorship, as it is generally believed, goes to Shi Naian and Luo Guanzhong. The novel relates the stories about the Liangshan uprising led by Song Jiang during which the rebellious heroes executed justice on behalf of the Heavens by killing the rich and relieving the poor. It reflects extensively the dark reality of the feudal society and exposes the decadence and evils of the ruling class; it also reveals the anguish of the masses and illuminates the inevitability of peasant uprisings and wars. By correlating and incorporating its plots into an organic whole, the book builds up a magnificent artistic structure which is intact, rigorous, diverse and flexible. The first 71 chapters narrate, via a single-chained structuring, relatively self-contained short stories and biographies of the heroes while the subsequent chapters relate, via a parallel structuring, the tales of the tragic ending of Liangshan insurrectionary army. Besides, it employs flexibly the technique of combining unification with separation, tension with relaxation, necessary details with appropriate omissions, and direct narration with interposed narration. Outlaws of the Marsh breaks the stereotyped pattern of characterization by focusing on the depiction of the individuality of its characters which changes with the changing circumstances. Thus, it creates a large number of preeminent and distinctive heroic images. The diction of the book is lucid and lively, plain and graceful with a rich local color. The heroic legendary genre of fiction created by the writers of Outlaws of the Marsh has exercised a great influence on the development of fiction writing of the same kind. The book has been translated into many foreign languages; therefore, it also has exercised much influence on foreign literature.

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