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The Three Sui Quash  the Demons' Revolt: A Comic Novel Attributed  to Luo Guanzhong
320pp. August 2010
The Three Sui Quash the Demons' Revolt: A Comic Novel Attributed to Luo Guanzhong
Translator: Fusek, Lois;
The twenty-chapter novel The Three Sui Quash the Demons’ Revolt is traditionally attributed to Luo Guanzhong (d. after 1364?), the alleged author of two of China’s most famous and beloved works of fiction, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin. The Three Sui tells the story of the uprising of adherents of the Maitreya Buddha led by Wang Ze in 1047–1048. Wang Ze was eventually executed and all future heterodox activity outlawed.

Paradoxically, The Three Sui treats the rebellion as an occasion for slapstick, baggy-pants humor in which facts are distorted and wildly mixed with fiction. Wang Ze's real-life lieutenants show up as a comical peddler and a mysterious Daoist priest. A celebrated warrior takes part in the rebellion despite having died seventeen years earlier. Although the novel is divided into chapters and otherwise follows the traditional format for such extended narratives, a careful examination reveals The Three Sui is an arrangement of self-contained vernacular stories. No story bears an intrinsic relationship to any other story. And because the integrity of the various stories has been so remarkably preserved, The Three Sui is a vernacular novel in which the vernacular story reigns supreme.

Although the Wang Ze rebellion took place during the Northern Song dynasty (960–1127), ultimately The Three Sui is the story of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) in Song masquerade. It calls attention to the social unrest, even anarchy, caused by the rising power and influence of movements like The White Lotus Society and warns of the Ming’s downfall unless such groups are contained. In this, the novel proved to be a prescient voice: The Ming collapsed as the result of a central authority weakened by mass sectarian uprisings.

The Three Sui has been little known and sadly overlooked by scholars of Chinese literature and history. Now this vibrant translation and insightful interpretive essay make this early example of Chinese vernacular fiction available to a broad audience interested in comparative literature and fiction.

“A rollicking tale of magic and mayhem.” —Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (33, 2011)

“A spot-check of Fusek’s readable English translation revealed flawless fidelity to the original text. Students of Chinese vernacular fiction in general, and historians with an interest in the social and political climate of the late Ming period in particular, will find this novel a fascinating, informative, and fun read.” —Choice (48:6, February 2011)

"Lois Fusek’s annotated translation of this neglected work of traditional Chinese vernacular fiction makes a significant contribution to our understanding and appreciation of that important body of work. Her work is of the very highest order and in draft form has invariably met with an enthusiastic response from students in my courses on Chinese literature at the University of Chicago. There is a wonderful lighthearted insouciance about this text that makes it virtually unique in the history of Chinese fiction, and it should attract not only students of the subject but anyone interested in narratology, the history of fiction, or a good read." —David T. Roy, Professor Emeritus of Chinese literature at the University of Chicago and translator of the Chin P’ing Mei (titled The Plum in the Golden Vase)

"The Three Sui is one of the earliest examples of novelistic writing in China and also one of the most intriguing. Lois Fusek has put forward a highly original interpretation of the meaning of the novel within the political and social context of the Ming period and has translated with finesse and fidelity to the original composite style. Scholars of Chinese vernacular fiction, those in the fields of Ming literary history and Chinese popular religion, as well as historians of the late imperial period will all find much of value in this illuminating work." —Anne McLaren, University of Melbourne

Translator: Fusek, Lois;
Lois Fusek taught in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago and later served as a program officer in the Research Division at the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, D.C. She retired in 2006.