Shih Nai-an

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shih Nai-an


(also Shih Tzu-an). Born 1296 in Tungtu (present-day Yangchou); died 1370 in Hsinghua, Yangchou District. Chinese writer.

Information about Shih Nai-an is scarce and mostly based on legend. It is known that he was the author of a heroic epic based on folk legends and dramas, The River Backwaters (Shui-hu chuan), which extolled the peasant uprising led by Sung Chiang in the 12th century. The novel was most widely circulated in a 17th-century version by Chin Sheng-t’an, which was translated into Russian and other European languages. The heroes of Chin Sheng-t’an’s version break with society and establish a band of freebooters, a kingdom of equality and brotherhood. Versions consisting of 100 and 120 chapters are apparently closer to the original. Many episodes and scenes, written in a lively, colloquial language, were among the favorite themes of street storytellers. The composition and artistic style reproduce with great precision the techniques of oral folk storytelling.


In Russian translation:
Rechnye zavodi, vols. 1–2, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1959.
Rechnye zavodi. (Condensed Russian translation.) Moscow, 1968.


Manukhin, V. S. “Khudozhestvennoe obobshchenie v pervykh kitaiskikh romanakh.” In Filologicheskie nauki, 1959, no. 4.
Ho Hsin. Shuihuyenchiu. Shanghai, 1954.
Yan Tun-i. Shuihu chuantiyenpien. Peking, 1957.
Chukoku-no hachi daishosetsu. Tokyo, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.