Customer Review

108 of 127 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars to the work, but only 4 to the translation!, September 7, 2003
This review is from: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol. 1 (Paperback)
I love the Three Kingdoms. However, having read Brewitt-Taylors masterful exposition, this translation seems lacking, in my opinion.

First, I must confess, I hate the modern Pinyin system of romanization. I cannot abide in a system where letters do not have the proper values. I mean, an entire generation of Americans (and God help the ignorant French!) will pronounce names like Cao Cao as "Cow Cow", or the Qin dynasty as the "Kwin" dynasty. The Brewitt-Taylor translation uses the old Wade system, and while it can be hard on the eyes, the reader gets a sense of at least the rough pronunciation (Cao Cao is rendered Ts'ao Ts'ao, Qin is rendered Ch'in, etc).

Also, Brewitt-Taylors translation is nice to listen to. "Empires wax and wane, states cleave asunder and coalesce"; the sound itself is beautiful, and yet still renders the sense clearly. The Roberts translation certainly succeeds in the latter, but the beauty is lost. However, Brewitt-Taylor requires a very great vocabulary, whereas Roberts is more tame in this regards. Still, this was a book for scholars, and the translation should at least reflect that.

Again, if you have no familiarization with the events of this tale, the complete rainstorm of names is daunting indeed. Always keep in mind the three separate forces (Cao Cao of Wei, Liu Bei of Shu and the Sun family of Wu) as well as a few of the other players (Zhang Jiao of the Yellow Scarves, Dong Zhuo, Lu Bu, Yuan Shao. Liu Biao and Liu Zhang) and you'll do fine. The book itself, in my opinion, is the greatest book ever told, succeeding in being at once a work of strategy, psychology, government, warfare, and human emotion, and there is nothing like it in the lexicon of Western literature. Enjoy!
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 21, 2006 7:13:43 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 21, 2006 7:20:27 AM PDT
please, I would like to know if amazon sells three kingdom in chinese version,

thank you.

alberto chee jin tse

Posted on Nov 8, 2006 7:26:45 PM PST
God bless you, I hate pinyin as well, and as a native Chinese speaker that can't read Chinese, stupidly enough, it's important for me to be able to sound out the words... Pinyin is obfuscating.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 12, 2007 8:31:37 AM PST
There is an expensive version (translated by Robert Moss) with (what I think is simplified) Chinese and Pinyin side by side. It costs a fortune, though.

Posted on Aug 7, 2007 4:48:35 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 23, 2007 4:42:08 PM PDT]

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 10:57:01 PM PST
Z. Sheffler says:
Respectfully, you pick on two of the four pinyin initials that aren't close to the English pronunciation (others being zh, r) while omitting the numerous pitfalls that Wade-Giles has. A few people will in fact pronounce Cao Cao as "cow cow", but how many people pronounce "道" (dao in pinyin, tao in WG) as "tao" instead of "dao"? Let's not even get into the differences between chin and ch'in, which are pronounced very differently.

Obviously pinyin isn't perfect, but I don't see how every complaint you have against it isn't applicable (and then some) in Wade-Giles.

Posted on Jan 30, 2010 2:50:59 PM PST
D. French says:
I'm a little thrown. This is a Brewitt-Taylor edition, is it not?

Posted on Apr 18, 2010 9:58:09 AM PDT
Rhandhali says:
Of all the problems with the CH Brewitt Taylor edition the use of Pinyin is not what would come to mind. Like it or not, it's the standard for romanizing Mandarin pronunciation. Complaining that a translation uses pinyin is like complaining about a stop sign being red.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2010 6:47:58 AM PDT
no that the stop sign is red is cool, it only worries me that the go sign is green... wich means this world is doomed...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2010 8:31:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 25, 2010 8:44:46 AM PST
So, a couple of things:

1) Unaspirated syllables are actually pronounced harder than the Pinyin would suggest. For example, let's take the Wade-Giles name "Piao" (which would be rendered "Biao" in the Pinyin). Actually, the Wade-Giles system more properly renders it's pronunciation: the "p" is unaspirated, but the sound is still harder than a "b" (more to the point, the rule would be "The 'p' is pronounced as in 'spot,' not as in 'pot'").

2) I can agree that the Wade-Giles system isn't perfect. It is offensive to my eyes to read all of those aspiration apostrophes, and yeah, that's another rule that a person needs to know. However, it gives a better idea of pronunciations, IMHO (and really, a review is an opinion, after all).

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2010 8:33:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Oct 12, 2012 9:27:44 AM PDT
@ D. French. It is. When I wrote this review (many, many years ago) the book I reviewed was actually a paperback version of the Moss translation, which uses the modern Pinyin. The Brewitt-Taylor translation uses the Wade-Giles system. Somehow, the reviews have migrated to different versions.
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