‘The Water Margin,’ China’s Outlaw Novel

“The Water Margin,” also known in English as “Outlaws of the Marsh” or “All Men Are Brothers,” is one of the most powerful narratives to emerge from China. The book, conventionally attributed to an otherwise obscure Yuan Dynasty figure called Shi Nai’an, takes the form of a skein of connected tales surrounding various heroic figures who—persecuted, exploited, wronged, or trapped by venal officials—eventually band together in the fortress of Liangshan (Mount Liang), in the present-day province of Shandong.

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