Han Xin’s Challenge: A Tale of the Founding of the Western Han
- About the Book
The death in 210 BCE of China’s first emperor, who had ended centuries of warfare among different states across the land and unified the country for the first time, initiated a brutal power struggle between Xiang Yu, Hegemon-King of Western Chu, and Liu Bang, later founder of the Han dynasty; the lowly Han Xin also strove for advancement. For over 2,000 years, the resulting story has been celebrated in China. Even today its main protagonists are household names.
This is an epic tale of courage and cowardice, honour and treachery, acted out by lords, officials and soldiers, mothers, wives and concubines, and has inspired great works of literature, performance and the arts. It is surprising, then, that only recently was a full version of this narrative translated into English—in Western Han: A Yangzhou Storyteller’s Script by the same authors. A massive work, Western Han reproduces, transcribes, translates and annotates a professional storyteller’s script dating from the late Qing period and originating from Yangzhou, a Chinese city known for its cultural exquisiteness. This was the first time such a script had been reproduced in its entirety, let alone translated into a Western language. Western Han thus has been hailed as ‘unprecedented in the scholarly literature on traditional storytelling and fiction’ and ‘a true labor of love that the scholarly community will benefit from for generations’.
To a large extent, Han Xin’s Challenge is a shortened version of Western Han, largely comprising its English translation plus explanatory text. It is more than that, however. The story has been made more accessible to the general reader without compromising the accuracy of the translation. Its text is also illuminated with artwork that brings the narrative to life and shows how embedded the tale is in Chinese culture, even today. The result is a text ideal for the teaching of Chinese history, culture and literature. But also it is a sweeping drama, a page-turner, a story that anyone can enjoy.
- About the Author(s)
Vibeke Børdahl, EditorVibeke Børdahl, a senior researcher at NIAS, specialises in Chinese oral literature and dialectology.
Vibeke Børdahl, TranslatorVibeke Børdahl, a senior researcher at NIAS, specialises in Chinese oral literature and dialectology.
Liangyan Ge, EditorProfessor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame, Liangyan Ge is seen as being at the forefront of current research on Chinese storytelling. His research interests also include premodern Chinese vernacular fiction.
Liangyan Ge, TranslatorProfessor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Notre Dame, Liangyan Ge is seen as being at the forefront of current research on Chinese storytelling. His research interests also include premodern Chinese vernacular fiction.