Creation of the Gods: A Somewhat Less Than Critical Commentary
Several years ago, I read an article on Journey to the West which stated that there were five novels which could be considered the most important Classics of Chinese Literary Fiction. It was clear that four of the five classic novels were Journey to the West, Outlaws of the Marsh, The Three Kingdoms, and The Story of the Stone. The essay did not indicate what the fifth classic of Chinese fiction was. For years I went searching on my own, reading such novels as Golden Lotus, The Scholars, and Jou P'u Tuan. However each of these novels, as good as they were, seemed clearly inferior to the other four classics.
In November of 2001, I asked one of my graduate students, Jiang Bangwu, recently arrived three months before from China, if he knew of a novel that ranked among the other four classics. Although Jiang is a chemical engineer, he has an avid interest in Chinese literature and, to my delight, he knew of a fifth classic novel. He told me, it was called "Feng Sheng Bang" and translated the title as "Many People Was Named As A God". (Jiang was still mastering English.) Jiang helped me track down that the book was translated as "Canonization of the Gods" (which makes his translated title look pretty good) and "Creation of the Gods".
Having read it now, I can see that clearly it is the equal of the other classics. The notes, list of characters, and outlines here are reading notes that I kept while going through Creation of the Gods. If you think you might like to use them to help you read Creation of the Gods, you are more than welcome to use them.