A beginners’ guide to the best translations of Chinese literature, from the 14th century to now: Telegraph UK
The Water Margin by Luo Guanzhong and Shi Nai’an (tr J H Jackson) is China’s 14th-century Robin Hood fable, the story of 108 heroes from the Chinese underclass who start a revolution. The most fascinating part of the novel is the way Luo challenges the idea of the hero.
If you want to understand the beauty of the Chinese language, Three Hundred Tang Poems (tr Geoffrey Waters, Michael Farman and David Lunde) will provide an introduction. Poems from the Tang dynasty (618–907 AD) set the aesthetic standard, and Western modernist poetry was also inspired by these poems.