Disclosing the Mysteries of the Wang Qing Story in the Simplified Editions of Water Margin (水滸傳)

Vol. 38 No. 1   3/2008    


Disclosing the Mysteries of the Wang Qing Story in the Simplified Editions of Water Margin (水滸傳)  


Hoi-sing Wong  









Key words

Shui hu, Wang Qing, Simplified version, Tian Hu, abridgement  


  In the novel Water Margin (水滸傳), Tian Hu's (田虎) victories over his opposing generals play a significant role in the insurrection of Wang Qing (王慶)the generals are in fact the anchors of Song Jiang's (宋江) legion, as most of the Liang-shan (梁山) members have largely retreated by then. This paper focuses on the surrenders of these generals and examines the underlying threads of the Wang Qing story: 1. the abridgement of the plots; 2. the totall number of victories by Tian Hu; 3. the relation between the stories of Tian Hu and Wang Qing in the simplified editions of Water Margin; 4. the authenticity of the first and second halves of the Wang Qing story; and 5. the relationship between the simplified versions and the apocrypha. The study pinpoints the many incongruities found between the two earliest apocrypha and the simplified versions of Water Margin that appeared later and argues that the story of Wang Qing is in fact an abridged form of Water Margin. Moreover, there is a close relationship between the story of Tian Hu and the second half of the story of Wang Qing. This second half, however, is curiously not in line with the first half, and it is highly possible that the first half was actually not in the original. This paper also discusses the absence of Ma Ling (馬靈) and his eighteen generals in the war against Wang Qing and proposes that the story's conclusion may have been prearranged in the story of Fang La (方臘). All of these findings, I hope, will increase our understanding of the second part of Water Margin.  



Author: Hoi-sing Wong
Genre: Article