Bandits Out of the Marshes: Shuihu zhuan in the Context of Late Imperial Military Historical Fiction

  • Author / Creator
    Minden, Samuel
  • This thesis examines the Chinese Late Imperial novel Shuihu zhuan (Water Margin) from the perspective of viewing it as a historical representation of the mid-Song Dynasty’s many wars and the ways in which it shares thematic and character-based parallels with other Late Imperial novels set during the Song Dynasty. This paper’s approach to Shuihu zhuan is predominantly based around the final fifty chapters of the 120-chapter edition of the novel, as these chapters deal directly with the historical wars of the mid-Song Dynasty and as such share the most parallels with other stories set in the Song dynasty such as the tales of the Yang Family generals and the Qing dynasty novel Shuo Yue zhuan. The first section of this thesis examines the ways in which these texts depict the foreign wars of the Song against the Liao and later Jin dynasties and the prominent recurring themes regarding these wars that appear in these texts. The second section explores Shuihu zhuan’s depiction of the historical Fang La rebellion and the broader moral quandaries that surround the concept of anti-government resistance in these novels. The final section examines the relationship between Shuihu zhuan, Shuo Yue zhuan, and Sanguozhi tongsu yanyi that exists through their sharing of prominent characters and themes, as well as the broader reasons outside of the text that often have influenced the creations of these allusions. Key themes discussed in this thesis include: the interconnection between strategy and magic in Late Imperial military literature, the villainization of government officials to protect the reputation of the emperor, the issue of just and unjust rebellion, the variations on the theme of sworn brotherhood, and the role of marketing and audience reception in the construction of the Late Imperial novel. The goal of this paper is to offer a comprehensive analysis of the intertextuality of Late Imperial novels set during the Song Dynasty from the starting point of Shuihu zhuan.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2024
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.