Outlaws of the Marsh

The Water Margin

Shi Nai’an

Introduced by Frances Wood

Translated by J. H. Jackson

Illustrations from the Rong Yu Tang edition

Shi Nai’an’s classic Chinese novel Outlaws of the Marsh (The Water Margin) is beautifully presented in a new Folio Society edition and illustrated with 141 images that capture the quests and battles.


Originally related by oral tradition, Outlaws of the Marsh was first transcribed in the 14th century and is the earliest of the four Great Classics of Chinese Literature. From supernatural feats of endurance to tales of poisoning, witchcraft and cannibalism, the timeless tales of villainy and heroism have engrossed whole generations and still provide inspiration for comic books, films, Peking opera and computer games.

Production Details

2 volumes
Three-quarter bound in blocked Art Silk with a printed cloth front board
Set in Dante
880 pages in total
Illustrated title pages and 141 woodblock illustrations in total
Ribbon markers
Gilded page tops
Printed cloth slipcase
11˝ x 7 ¼˝

A fascinating cast of characters

Plague has descended on the people of the peaceful Song Dynasty and the Emperor is desperate to find a cure. Failing to enlist the help of a Taoist master, the Emperor’s envoy accidentally releases 108 demons from their mountain prison. The freed villains gather in the marshes surrounding Liangshan, in Shandong province, and become the outlaws of the story. From their base, they fight to protect the vulnerable and re-establish a peaceful and harmonious society, becoming heroes of the people in the process. The battles are fierce and bloody with characters such as Wu Song, the Tiger Slayer; Lu Da, the Tattooed Monk; and ruthless Li Kui, the Black Whirlwind, fighting their way to notoriety.

Incredible two-volume edition

This two-volume edition reproduces the popular 70-chapter version of the text which begins with the release of the demons and culminates with the full assemblage of the 108 heroes at the Liangshan marsh. Frances Wood, former curator of Chinese Collections at the British Museum, introduces the novel with her fascinating historical perspective and academic insights. The 141 illustrations, taken from the Ming dynasty Rong Yu Tang edition – the finest complete set of images anywhere in the world – appear courtesy of the National Library of China, and are printed at exceptional quality. These elaborate black and white illustrations beautifully imagine the scenes, depicting the quests and bloody battles in graphic detail. Ribbon markers, gilt tops and a cloth-bound slipcase make this the definitive edition of a classic text.


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