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Investiture of the Gods 封神演义 – Top 100 Books in China

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Fantastical novels about gods and demons

Overview

Chinese Name: 封神演义

English Name: Investiture of the Gods

Other Name: The Creation of the Gods, Fengshen Bang 封神榜

AuthorXu Zhonglin 许仲琳

Originally Published: In 1368-1644(Ming Dynasty 明朝)

Genre: Novels

Brief Introduction of Investiture of the Gods

The Investiture of the Gods 封神演义 is a fantastical novels about gods and demons written by Xu Zhonglin 许仲琳 in the Ming Dynasty 明朝.

The novel, with historical and political concepts as the ideological framework to support the book, mixed with a lot of grand imagination. It shows the author’s support and praise for the virtuous master and his discontent and revolt against the evil king.

This book is a total of 100 chapters. It roughly divided into four parts from the content of King Zhou 纣王 fatuous, Shang’s war against Xiqi 殷商伐西岐, King Wu’s war against Zhou 周武王伐纣, Jiang Ziya’s return to the kingdom to enthrone god 姜子牙归国封神.

Investiture of the Gods 封神演义(纣王和妲己在饮乐)
King Zhou and Daji were drinking and enjoying themselves 纣王和妲己在饮酒作乐

The first part describes the poem written by King Zhou 纣王 in Nu Wa Palace 女娲宫, which desecrates the goddess Nu Wa and Nu Wa is furious. Nu Wa send a thousand years of fox demon and other two demons into the palace to charm King Zhou. It happened that King Zhou asked Su Daji 苏妲己 to be his concubine. The fox demon killed Daji, instead of Daji into the palace. King Zhou indulged in drinking and prostitution and ignored the government. Egged on by Daji, he killed the minister, mutilated the people, many innocent people were killed.

After escaping back to Xiqi 西岐, Ji Chang 姬昌 helped the Zhou Dynasty destroy the Shang Dynasty. At the same time, Jiang Ziya was appointed prime minister.

Investiture of the Gods 封神演义(文王访贤)
King Wen of the Zhou went to visit Jiang Ziya by the Weishui River 周文王到渭水河边拜访姜子牙

In the second part, King Zhou ordered Emperor Wen Zhong 闻仲 to attack Zhou 周. Wen Zhong successively sent general Chao Tian 晁田 and Zhang Guifang 张桂芳 to the war, with the help of Jie Jiao 截教. However, he was defeated by Chan Jiao 阐教, and both the generals and Wen Zhong were killed.

The third part of writing King Wu 武王 led Xiqi’s army and with the help of Chan Jiao, the world called out. Finally King Wu stormed into the Shang Palace. Jiang Ziya listed king Zhou’s ten crimes. King Zhou burned himself to death in the tower of the Star 摘星楼, Daji and other two demons were captured.

The fourth part mainly writes that King Wu ascended the throne of heavenly son, Jiang Ziya was on the pedestal of sealing the god, and all the people and ghosts who had rendered service to the country had a home.

In the Ming Dynasty, the feudal confucianist Philosophy of Cheng and Zhu dominated 程朱理学, the ideas advocated by the Book were obviously of rebellious significance to contend with the feudal absolutism. It truly reflects the struggle of Shang and Zhou in ancient times, especially the failure of King Zhou and the rise of Shang in Zhou Dynasty. It has a great influence on the creation of similar novels in later generations.

Author of Investiture of the Gods

Xu Zhonglin (c. 1560 — 1630) was a novelist of the Ming Dynasty, born in Nan Jing 南京 , Jiangsu Province 江苏省. About life in the late Years of Jia Jing 嘉靖末年, the history of his life record is very little, according to legend, “Investiture of the Gods” edited by him into a book.

 

Xu Zhonglin 许仲琳
Xu Zhonglin 许仲琳

Excerpts From Investiture of the Gods

人言不足信,天命不足畏。

Words are not enough to be believed, nor is destiny enough to be feared.

心如白云常自在,意如流水任东西。

The heart is like white clouds often at ease, the mind is like the water, let it flow everywhere.

大厦将倾,独木难扶。

The building will fall, and a single tree cannot be helped. It’s hard to change the picture with a metaphor.

Evaluation of Investiture of the Gods

There is something very bold in the Investiture of the Gods. Like Nezha 哪吒 forced his father, Yang Jian 杨戬 anti Shang 商, are old Confucianism can not tolerate, but the author is delighted to talk.

Zheng Zhenduo 郑振铎

It describes a famous sect in ancient times, mixing three religions, probably like “Journey to the West” 西游记 in this respect.

Lu Xun 鲁迅

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