9 Classic Chinese Novels of All Time

China’s masterpieces are profound and have a long history, a brilliant flower of world culture. The following novels are all well-known and cover the changes over history.

Many of these works have been made into movies and shown widely across the country.

In addition to the novels turned into movies, there are other works worth reading. Check out the following list of the best classic novels to learn more about Chinese literature:

1. Romance of Three Kingdoms

Romance of Three Kingdoms

This novel is a great classic of China. It is one of the first chapter-long historical novels in this country. It describes the situation of nearly one hundred years between the Eastern Han and the Western Dynasty.

It shows Three Kingdoms era contrarieties. In addition, this novel also deals with historical changes during this period.

The film of this novel is shown in many countries around the world. This Chinese literary work has become a part of human history.

2. The Scholars

The Scholars

This work is a series of novels by Wu Jingzi in the Qing Dynasty. The book consists of 56 chapters. “The Scholars” is a long novel that depicts intellectuals and a typical satirical novel.

It describes the image of some Confucian scholars being heavily poisoned by the stereotypical exam regime, reflecting the corruption of the secular atmosphere at that time.

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The excellent use of satire makes the book a masterpiece of classical Chinese satirical literature.

3. Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber

The novel emphasizes the purpose of action. People have to follow their desires and dreams. Avoid conforming to old-fashioned rules.

The unique writing style has helped readers understand the problem and then apply it well in real life. Around the reading and research of this novel, a prominent school-the study of red appeared.

4. Journey to the West

This novel is about Chinese gods and devils based on a real-life occurrence known as “The Tang Sangha Learns the Sutras.”

Through the author’s artistic treatment, it depicts the social reality at that time.

The book is about Sun Wukong causing trouble in Thien Cung. Then he met his Shifu Tang Tang, and the journey began.

In their sutras journey, the five teachers and students of Tang Tang met many tribulations. Each life you give us a valuable life lesson.

5. The Analects of Confucius


Confucius compiled this novel to record his habits. This novel also reflects the thoughts of Confucius in a more focused way.

This novel is a classic of Confucianism. It is mainly in the form of quotations and supplemented by narration, expressing Confucius’ political views, moral ideas, and moral concepts.

The novel consists of 492 articles in 20 chapters. Besides, it was the first novel to be in a quote style.

6. The Art of War

This novel is the first military work in China and the world. There are about 6,000 words and thirteen chapters in total.

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It is a brilliant treasure in China’s ancient military heritage and a part of excellent traditional culture. Its content is rich and profound.

With strict logic, this novel represents the quintessence of ancient military thought. It has a history of 2,500 years since its birth and is still popular.

7. Outlaws of the Marsh

108 heroes

The novel, by describing the journey of 108 heroes led by Song Jiang who gathered in Liangshan, artistically reflects the whole process of the Song Jiang uprising.

It clarifies the social origin of the uprising, warmly celebrates the resistance struggle of the heroes and their social ideals, and specifically reveals the intrinsic historical causes that led to its failure.

8. Strange Tales of A Chinese Studio

This novel is a classic Chinese short story collection by Pu Songling. He was a famous writer in China and one of the most talented novelists in the world.

There are 491 short stories in the book. They either expose the darkness of feudalism, criticize the corruption of the exam system, or oppose the shackles of feudal morality with rich and profound ideological content.

The works depicting the theme of love make up a large number in the entire book, demonstrating an anti-feudal moral spirit. Some works express the author’s ideal love through the love between flowers, foxes, and humans.

9. Mirror flower

Qing Dynasty

This work is made by LiRuzhen, a writer in the Qing Dynasty. Its first half describes the stories of Duo Jiugong, Tang Ao, and others traveling abroad.

The second part tells the story of Empress Wu Zetian choosing a talented woman in the royal exam, Tang Xiaoshan.

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Its magical and humorous creative techniques are classics. It wonderfully sketches a beautiful and colorful picture of the wheel of the sky. This novel is also about women’s issues.


What is classical Chinese literature?

Classical Chinese literature deals with Chinese literature in the historical period between the Former Qin and Qing dynasties, including authors, literary events, literature, literary theory, textual studies, etc.

What are the characteristics of classic novels?

Novels are usually in prose form. Similar to short stories, novels have some characteristics, such as character representation and dialogue.

Why are classic novels important?

Classical fiction plays an important role in literature. It describes a cultural part of a country and the world. Classical novels help people better understand the culture of the past.


Above is a list of the top famous Chinese classic novels. They have become immortal masterpieces that everyone knows when talking about them.

These works are treasures of quintessence and unique art ever. Which of these have you read? Please comment to let us know!

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