Chinese Classics: Four Great Classical Novels

Click on the title of each of the novels for more information, a summary, available translations, and online resources.

Dream of the Red Chamber(Alternative Titles: A Dream of Red Mansion/Story of the Stone) 红楼梦/石头记  (Hóng Lóu Mèng/Shítóujì) Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 (last 40 chapters by Gao E 高鹗 ) 18thCentury
Journey to the West 西游记 (Xī Yóu Jì) Wu Cheng’en 吴承恩 16th Century
Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三国演义 (Sānguó Yǎnyì) Luo Guanzhong 罗贯中 14thCentury (1360)
Water Margin(Alternative Titles: Story of the Marches/ Outlaws of the Water Margin/All Men are Brothers) 水浒传 (Shuǐhǔ zhuán) Shi Nai’an 施耐庵 14thcentury

Secondary Sources on the Four Classic Novels

  • Berry, Margaret. (1988). The Chinese classic novels: An annotated bibliography of chiefly English-language studies. New York: Garland. (Reprint 2010, Routledge Revivals).
  • Hsia, Chih-tsing. (1968).The classic Chinese novel: a critical introduction. New York; London: Columbia University Press (Reprinted in 1980. Bloomington: Indiana University Press).
    • Besides the four classical novels discussed here, Hsia’s study also looks at two additional novels often considered classics: Golden Lotus or Plum in the Golden Vase (Jinpingmei金瓶梅 ), and The Scholars (Rulin waishi 儒林外史).
  • Knight, Sabina. (2012). Chinese literature: A very short introduction. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Lévy, A., & Nienhauser, W. H. (2000). Chinese literature, ancient and classical. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Plaks, Andrew H. (1987). Four masterworks of the Ming novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Rolston, David L. (Ed.). (1989). How to read the Chinese novel. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.