Over a year since I began the first part of The Marshes of Mount Liang, which I always think of as The Water Margin, or 水滸傳 and finally I decide to get book two. It’s taking me a while because John and Alex Dent-Young’s translation is very good (I think the best, and seeing it’s a massive 120 chapters, unlikely to be translated again any time soon), and for all five volumes very expensive, so I try and hold back my compulsion to buy them all now. Ah, books.
Part Two opens with Wu Song’s hilarious and brilliant post-roadside banquet drunken battering to death of a mountain tiger. It’s full of such language as, “Now, what Wu Song on the mountain provided for that savage tiger, in less time than it takes to eat a simple meal, was a surfeit of blows and kicks.” It sounds strange almost to be Pidgin English, ‘providing’ a beating, and to use slurping down a quick bowl of noodles as a simile for the time that beating takes, for me puts Shi Nia’an and Luo Guanzhong up there with Chaucer.
I’ve been pestering people I know with some success to watch Avatar: Legend of Kora, Orphan Black, Blake’s 7, so now I shall pester them this: The Water Margin: like Game of Thrones but better.