Great Moments in Literature

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Great Moments in Literature

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feb 26, 2013, 9:21am

Sometimes the light just goes on when we're reading and there is a beautiful moment, a turn in the story where things become clear. I came across on last night, and thought I'd start a thread for them.

In Three Kingdoms, Xuande, the last Great Emperor of the Han, who has fighting to restore the dynasty, is on his death bed calling his closest advisors to his side. He instructs Zhuge Liang (Kongming) that if Xuande's son, Ah Dou, has merit, Zhuge should serve and support him, but if he does not, Zhuge should take the "crown" (the mandate of heaven) itself. Kongming is loyal, however, so the empire is doomed.

feb 26, 2013, 2:33pm

I am probably daft, but I don't get it : )

feb 26, 2013, 3:27pm

That's the problem with "moments" in lit, you have to read the whole damn thing to get it.

feb 26, 2013, 3:36pm

Is the missing piece that Ah Dou has no merit?

I'm not sure if this is exactly what you're going for, but in Spring Snow the point at which things go from kind of desultory, lazy dabbling and exquisite interest in one's own feelings on the part of aristocrats with an arrogant assurance of their own security to a deathfatespiral is when Satoko finds out she's pregnan. Up until then there's no real consequences. It's very after-school special.

Shakespeare is full of these. Drama is full of these, actually.

Redigeret: feb 26, 2013, 6:00pm

You guys haven't read this? Yes, Ah Dou not only has no merit, but his name has become a synonym in Chinese for inept. You do not want to be called an Ah Dou.

It's a lovely moment because the work praises the loyalty and wisdom of Zhuge right, left and center for 1500 pages before this moment and 500 pages after this moment. He is the epitome of the proper vassal and the personification of the confucian system. Yet, at this moment, tragically, the empire is undone by Zhuge's finest qualities, and Confucius is just suddently turned on his head.

Martin, yes, you've got exactly what I'm going for!

feb 26, 2013, 11:08pm

So, what dooms the empire is that Zhuge is loyal to Ah Dou rather than loyal to Xuande's death bed instructions.

feb 26, 2013, 11:32pm

Yeah, so when Tybalt kills Mercutio.

feb 26, 2013, 11:37pm

I've not read the Romance, but I HAVE played the video game. Zhuge Liang:

feb 27, 2013, 12:02pm

I really want that outfit.

feb 27, 2013, 12:03pm

He looks so young and forceful there - I hope they age him in the game as you make it through levels.

My favorite Zhuge scene is his death. He dies of exhaustion during the Seige of the Wuzhang Plains, and leaves instructions for the retreat. A dummy of him is constructed and a rearguard counterattacked waged, and Sima Yi, the enemy general who is the one who ultimately reunified the empire, retreats, thinking Zhuge faked his death and the retreat to lull him into a weak position. It lead to the saying, "A dead Zhuge beats a live Sima."

feb 27, 2013, 1:19pm

I'm always repeating that saying around the house.