Fic­tion with In­flu­ence

Fa­mous mar­tial arts nov­el­ist louis Cha le­ung-yung’s pass­ing leaves a grow­ing le­gion of fol­low­ers

ChinAfrica - - BRIEFS - By Pan Xiao­qiao

there was an out­pour­ing of grief across China on Oc­to­ber 30 when fans of leg­endary wuxia (master of mar­tial arts) nov­el­ist Jin Yong heard of his pass­ing at age 94. “He has left Jianghu be­hind, but his wuxia mas­ter­pieces will live for­ever,” said one reader on so­cial me­dia, mir­ror­ing the sen­ti­ment of mil­lions who mourned China’s best­selling mar­tial arts and chivalry sto­ry­writer.

Jianghu lit­er­ally means rivers and lakes, while metaphor­i­cally, it refers to the world of mar­tial artists, of thugs and he­roes, be­yond the reach of the im­pe­rial gov­ern­ment.

Jin Yong, the pen name of Louis Cha Le­ung-yung, was born in Hain­ing in east China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince in 1924 and moved to Hong Kong in 1948 where he wrote the bulk of his nov­els.

Sta­tis­tics from China’s on­line shop­ping gi­ant Jd.com and on­line book re­tailer Dang­dang.com show that or­ders of his nov­els spiked on the evening of Cha’s death, while many on­line and off­line re­tail­ers re­port­edly ran out of stock, as peo­ple rushed to buy his com­plete works.

More than meets the eye

Wuxia as a branch of Chi­nese lit­er­a­ture has been around for cen­turies, but has been mostly side­lined and looked down upon by the main­stream lit­er­a­ture world.

“The strong re­ac­tion to Cha’s pass­ing makes the whole Chi­nese so­ci­ety aware of the ex­ten­sive in­flu­ence of his wuxia nov­els. Mean­while, China’s lit­er­a­ture re­search cir­cles have in­creas­ingly re­al­ized that they treat pop­u­lar lit­er­a­ture like wuxia un­fairly,” said Long Qilin, Pro­fes­sor of lit­er­a­ture at Guangzhou Univer­sity.

In 1995, a Jin Yong wuxia re­search course was es­tab­lished at Pek­ing Univer­sity and since 2007, one of the nov­els, Fox Volant of the Snowy Moun­tain, has been in­cluded in mid­dle school Chi­nese lan­guage text­books na­tion­wide.

Jin Yong sto­ries have gripped gen­er­a­tions from all walks of life since 1955 when he pub­lished his first book in se­ri­al­ized form in Ming Pao, a lead­ing news­pa­per in Hong Kong, which he co-founded.

A still from the 1995 TV drama Re­turn of Con­dor He­roes with Yang Guo and Xiao Longnu as the hero and hero­ine

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