If you want to know more about China before your trip to China the best (And most enjoyable) way to do it is reading some books. But if you really want to have a deep plunge in the Chinese culture the best challenge is to read all the Four Great Classical Novels before your China trip.

The four Great Classical Novels are four novels that have influenced all the ancient (and modern) Chinese literature, the first one dates from the 13th century and the last from the 18th.

They are among the world’s oldest and longest novels and have influenced lots of plays, games and movies throughout Asia.

This article don’t plan to explain all their glory but just to have a glimpse of their plot and story.

The first novel is called “Water Margin” it was written in the 13th Century and it is basically about a group of outlaws first leaded by Wang Jin but in the end leaded by Song Jiang they fight aganist some evil generals, first Gao Qiu and then Cai Jing, this novel also tells how they lived in that era so it’s an interesting reading.

The second novel it’s called “The Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and it was written a century later, this is the most complex of the fourn novels because it follows all the story of three kingdoms how they lived separatly they unificate and they separate again. It’s a historical novel.

The third novel is the most famous one “A Journey to the West” , written in the 16th century this novels narrates the adventures of Son Goku (or Sun Wokung) a monkey, and his companions, a pig (Zhu Baije) a river ogre (Sha Wujing) and a dragon (the third son of theDragon of the West Sea) in their way to a peregrination to India where they recieve the scriptures from Buddha.

The fourth is more actual, it’s written on the 18th Century and it’s called “dream of the red chamber” and it’s about a young man born with a magical stone of jade in his mouth that is in love with his cousin but he has to marry another cousin who he doesn’t love.

There is also said that a fifth novel sould be added, the Plum in the Golden Vase, but it’s told to be too erotic for it’s inclusion.

If you like books and you want to read something traditional before your China Trip try these novels!

Jack Li
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