Battle at the Red Cliff – Part 1

Li Lienfung

Battle at the Red Cliff – A Guide to Three Kingdoms, 2004 Ed, by Li Lien Fung, a Singaporean born in Shanghai, is a selection of 17 stories from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Li is a chemist by profession. She is bilingual in English and Mandarin. She studied chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in Cornell University where she earned her master’s degree in literature in 1946. At Cornell, her master’s thesis was on Chinese folk literature.

Her selections are excellent. I shall focus on two. One on Cao Cao. The other on Liu Bei.

First some background. In the closing years of the Han Dynasty, China was split into three warring states. The Yellow Kerchief rebellion had broken out in China.

These states i.e. Wei, Shu and Wu fought for supremacy from about 184-280 AD.

The Three Kingdoms narrates the titanic struggle by the three leaders of these kingdoms to be the next Emperor of China.

The characters are real, but their exploits were mixed with fiction by Lu Guan Zhong (1330 – 1400 AD) who combined history and folklore into a novel titled San Guo Yan Yi.

None of these Three Kingdoms succeeded in conquering the other two. The empire was reunited by the Sima family who founded the Jin dynasty.

Lwh @ Yangtze River cruise from Chungking to Wu Gorge to Yichang
12- 16 April 2024.

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