Han Xin’s Challenge: A Tale of the Founding of the Western Han

$115.00 SGD

translated and edited by Vibeke Børdahl and Liangyan Ge, with Yalong Wang

The death in 210 BCE of China’s first emperor 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 by the same authors.

A massive work, Western Han: A Yangzhou Storyteller’s Script reproduces, transcribes, translates and annotates a professional storyteller’s script dating from the late Qing period. In Han Xin’s Challenge, this story of the founding of Western Han 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 it is embedded in Chinese culture, even today. The result is a sweeping drama, a page-turner, a story that anyone can enjoy

a wonderfully rich resource … It also reminds us that Chinese traditional storytelling was not just about presenting an entertaining tale. Tellers of dynastic histories were charged with the moral responsibility to explain to their audiences why it was that kings and emperors rose and fell and why dynastic lineages emerged and collapsed. ~ Anne E. McLaren, University of Melbourne

Vibeke Børdahl and Liangyan Ge have been described as two of the most accomplished scholars in the study of Chinese oral literature. Both have done much research on the interplay of oral and written traditions in Chinese popular literature and performance culture. Dr Vibeke Børdahl, a senior researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, specialises in Chinese oral literature and dialectology. Professor 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. Yalong Wang is currently a doctoral student at the Research Center on Chinese Paleography and Excavated Classical Documents at Fudan University.

Publication year: 2019
510 pp / 229mm x 152mm
30 (1 colour), 6 maps
ISBN: 978-87-7694-269-4, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-7694-268-7, Hardback

NIAS Press