Social Scientist. v 8, no. 89-90 (Dec-Jan -1) p. 3.


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G P DESHPANDE

Marxism and Aesthetics

WATER MARGIN FOR LOYALTY AND JUSTICE {Water Margin for short) has been a best seller in China for nearly four centuries now. This novel, admittedly one of the best literary products of feudal China, was the subject of a lively literary-political controversy in China, about four years ago. This novel had come out in three editions of different sizes in 1589, 1602 and 1666 respectively. The curious feature of these editions, as also of the various other editions, was the fact that these editions carried different number of chapters. The longest edition consisted of 120 chapters. The shortest had 74 chapters. The problem was further complicated by the fact that there were two traditional versions—a concise version and a complex version. Both the versions had this problem of the number of chapters. The Peopled Publishing House published in 1966 and 1975 a modern edition of the complex version. The problem at that time was which edition to choose. One edition of the complex version carried 120 chapters while the other carried 100 chapters. It was clearly a complex problem for the literary historians in China.

The debate in 1975 centred round why there were so many editions of the same novel. Why the various editiors in different times in China's history thought it necessary to edit the novel and



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