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Title: 水滸傳
Translated title: Water Margin
Language: Chinese
Original: 施耐庵
Year: 2000

Water Margin is the second of the four great Chinese classical novels that I read in Windmill’s adaptation for children, the previous one being the Journey to the West. It tells the story of 108 outlaws and their various adventures during the  Song dynasty, but because of the extreme number of characters involved and the hurried plot, this book feels too much like the abridged version it really is.

My reading ability has improved a lot since I read the Journey to the West, which supposedly should be at the same level, but I still feel that this is almost too hard. This is strange, because sometimes I find this kind of reading harder than Chinese in textbooks I know for a fact should be more difficult. I think the main problem is that the story is a lot longer in the original form and the author who made the adaptation hasn’t done a very good job. For instance, the pages are virtually littered with names of people and places (a random check showed that three sentences contained over twenty names, which is far from uncommon). This makes it very hard to follow and remember who’s who.

Furthermore, the confusing style also doesn’t encourage me to read on, so i took almost a month to finish Water Margin meaning that I can hardly recall anything that happened at the beginning. I think I might read the other books in this adaptation series later, but only when I’m sure that I can handle this amount of names in Chinese more comfortably. I might even re-read this book, but let’s just say that I wasn’t very impressed the first time. If you’re looking for suitable books to improve your Chinese reading ability at the same time as picking up some knowledge about literature and culture (this was my goal), look elsewhere.

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