Literati mourn author of Em­peror se­ries

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - China - By YANG YANG [email protected]­nadaily.com.cn

Elites from the world of lit­er­a­ture and fans na­tion­wide have been pay­ing trib­ute to novelist Ling Jiefang, bet­ter known by his pen name Eryue He, who died on Satur­day morn­ing at age 73.

Ling, who was dean of the Col­lege of Lib­eral Arts at Zhengzhou Univer­sity in He­nan prov­ince, was best known for his Em­peror se­ries, which was re­leased be­tween 1989 and 1996, and con­sists of 5 mil­lion char­ac­ters.

Af­ter his death, fans shared a cou­plet — a tra­di­tional form of twoline po­etry — that in­cludes the line, “Er yue he kai ling jie fang”, which trans­lates as “The Yel­low River’s frozen sur­face breaks in Fe­bru­ary, the ice is lib­er­ated.”

The poem, which quickly went vi­ral, clev­erly com­bines the author’s birth name and pen name.

No­bel lau­re­ate Mo Yan cre­ated a ver­sion of the cou­plet and shared an im­age of it writ­ten in cal­lig­ra­phy to mourn the na­tion’s loss.

Ling be­gan writ­ing his first novel, The Great Kangxi Em­peror, in 1984 and later pub­lished Yongzheng Em­peror and Qian­long Em­peror as part of the same historical fic­tion se­ries. The hugely pop­u­lar books fol­low three gen­er­a­tions of lead­ers dur­ing the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) and fea­ture tales of cor­rup­tion, in­va­sions and ri­val­ries be­tween royal sib­lings.

All three nov­els were adapted into pop­u­lar TV se­ries in the late 1990s and early 2000s star­ring big­name ac­tors in­clud­ing Chen Daom­ing, Tang Guo­qiang and Siqin Gaowa.

In an in­ter­view with Bei­jing News on Satur­day, writer Zhou Daxin said Ling was in­spired by A Dream of Red Man­sions at a young age and had spent many years study­ing the classic work be­fore start­ing on his own nov­els.

“As a re­sult, un­like many works by historical nov­el­ists, Eryue He’s fic­tion had his own char­ac­ter­is­tics,” he said. “He in­jected lots of his own emo­tion and life phi­los­o­phy into his work.”

Zhou said Ling’s vivid de­pic­tions of the Qing Dy­nasty helped peo­ple learn the his­tory of the time.

Be­cause of his de­tailed re­search into cor­rup­tion in the Qing court, Ling was re­garded as an ex­pert on the topic. In 2014, the Cen­tral Com­mis­sion for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion, the top anti­graft watch­dog, in­vited him to be the first guest speaker for an on­line pro­gram called Lis­ten to Masters.

An eye dis­ease caused by di­a­betes meant Ling was un­able to read or write for long pe­ri­ods, but he con­tin­ued to talk about cor­rup­tion, in­clud­ing prob­lems faced in re­cent years.

“The anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paigns are un­prece­dented in terms of in­ves­tiga­tive scope and ef­fort ex­erted,” he told Xin­hua News Agency in 2017. “I would think about the so­cial phe­nom­ena that I ob­served and use my in­flu­ence to make my con­tri­bu­tion to the solutions.”

He said that cor­rup­tion ex­isted not only among the rich and pow­er­ful but was a uni­ver­sal so­cial phe­nom­e­non fu­eled by con­sumerism.

The so­lu­tion to cor­rup­tion is ed­u­ca­tion, Ling said. “Read books and news­pa­pers care­fully, and learn to live well,” he added.

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