Dive into the enchanting world of China's four great classical novels

Unravel the rich tapestry of Chinese culture and language through these literary masterpieces

Step aside, Shakespeare and Tolstoy! We're about to embark on an exciting journey into the world of Chinese literature, where dragons dance and monkey kings reign supreme. Prepare to be astonished as we explore the four great classical novels of Chinese literature: "Romance of the three kingdoms," "Water margin," "Journey to the West," and "Dream of the red chamber." These tales will captivate your imagination, tickle your funny bone, and make you want to learn Chinese faster than you can say "Confucius." So buckle up, and let's dive into the awe-inspiring world of ancient China!

FREE digital flashcard modules for learning Chinese

Swiftly and progressively build your skills

Dive into our comprehensive Chinese learning modules covering strokes, components, essential characters, and Mandarin pronunciation. Begin your immersive Chinese learning journey with us today!

Unraveling the mysteries of the four great classical novels

Immerse yourself in the magical world of ancient Chinese literature and language

Romance of the three kingdoms: A tale of loyalty and strategy

If you think "Game of thrones" was epic, wait until you feast your eyes on "Romance of the three kingdoms." Penned by Luo Guanzhong during the 14th century, this masterpiece recounts the power struggles and intricate alliances among the Wei, Shu, and Wu kingdoms, which vied for supremacy during China's Three kingdoms period (220-280 AD).

The novel has it all – cunning warlords, valiant generals, and a dizzying array of military strategies that would make Sun Tzu blush. Imagine Machiavelli and George R.R. Martin having a baby – "Romance of the three kingdoms" would be their brainchild. Learning Chinese through this novel is like learning English through Shakespeare, but with more beheadings and fewer soliloquies.

Water margin: China's answer to Robin Hood

Written by Shi Nai'an in the 14th century, "Water margin" chronicles the adventures of 108 outlaws who rebel against the corrupt Song dynasty government. These heroes, based on real historical figures, form a tight-knit band of brothers and live by a strict code of honor, much like Robin Hood and his merry men.

In this tale, you'll encounter a motley crew of characters, from Wu Song, the fearless tiger-slaying warrior, to Pan Jinlian, the seductive femme fatale. If you think your family gatherings are dramatic, just wait until you see the epic feuds and alliances that unfold in this Chinese classic. And as you tackle the idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms found in "Water margin," you'll become a Chinese language outlaw yourself, stealing linguistic treasures from ancient China and bringing them into the modern world.

Journey to the West: Monkeying around with Chinese mythology

"Journey to the West" by Wu Cheng'en is arguably the most beloved of the Four great classical novels. This 16th-century work follows the Buddhist monk Xuanzang and his motley crew of disciples – the irreverent monkey king, the gluttonous pigsy, and the humble sand monk – as they embark on a perilous pilgrimage to India in search of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

With its rich blend of myth, fantasy, and humor, "Journey to the West" is to Chinese literature what "The Lord of the rings" is to Western fantasy. As you accompany Xuanzang and his disciples on their adventures, you'll encounter monsters, demons, and heavenly beings – not to mention, you'll learn a ton of Chinese along the way. So grab your staff and hop on your cloud, because it's time to monkey around with the Chinese language!

Dream of the red chamber: Forbidden love and family drama

Last but certainly not least, "Dream of the red chamber" by Cao Xueqin is the pièce de résistance of Chinese literature. Published in the 18th century, this novel delves into the complex relationships, romantic entanglements, and political intrigues within the wealthy Jia family.

At the heart of the story lies the tragic love triangle between the protagonist Jia Baoyu and two very different women – the virtuous Lin Daiyu and the pragmatic Xue Baochai. Think "Downton Abbey" meets "Romeo and Juliet," but with more tea ceremonies and less iambic pentameter.

"Dream of the red chamber" provides a unique glimpse into the customs, values, and social norms of the Qing dynasty. As you unravel the tangled web of love, loyalty, and betrayal within the Jia family, you'll also be mastering the nuances of the Chinese language. So, polish your jade pendants and dust off your silk robes, because you're about to be immersed in the opulent world of ancient China!

Connecting the four great classical novels to Chinese language learning

Now that you've had a taste of the rich and diverse world of the Four Great Classical Novels, you might be wondering how these masterpieces can help you learn Chinese. Fear not, intrepid language adventurer, for these tales offer a veritable treasure trove of linguistic gems!

By immersing yourself in these classics, you'll gain insights into Chinese history, philosophy, and social customs, all while expanding your vocabulary and understanding of idiomatic expressions. Moreover, the vivid storytelling and compelling characters will make learning Chinese an enjoyable and captivating endeavor.

So, if you're looking to add some flair to your Chinese language journey, look no further than the four great classical novels. With their spellbinding tales, larger-than-life characters, and profound wisdom, these literary masterpieces will not only enrich your understanding of Chinese culture but also inspire you to delve deeper into the enchanting world of the Chinese language.


From the Machiavellian world of "Romance of the three kingdoms" to the ethereal realm of "Dream of the red chamber," the four great classical novels of Chinese literature offer a fascinating window into the heart and soul of Chinese culture. As you explore these captivating tales, you'll not only develop a deeper appreciation for the richness of Chinese history and philosophy but also hone your Chinese language skills in the most delightful way possible.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive into the enthralling world of the Four Great Classical Novels and embark on a linguistic and cultural adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime. Happy reading, and may the spirit of the Monkey king guide you on your journey!