|Given name||Pen name|
|Vietnamese||Tra Lương Dung||Kim Dung|
|Korean||Sa Ryang Yong||Kim Yong|
|pen name created by splitting last character of given name|
Louis Cha aka Zha Liangyong (Cha Leung Yung), was born on June 6, 1924. He is known to most by his penname Jin Yong or Kam-yung (Cantonese), and is one of the most influential modern Chinese-language wuxia novelists of all time.
He is widely regarded as the finest Chinese wuxia writer, a reputation based on 15 wuxia novels and short stories he wrote from 1955 to 1972. He has a widespread, unchallenged, almost religious following in all Chinese-speaking areas, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. His books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide (over 1 billion if one includes bootleg copies) making him by far the best-selling Chinese author still alive.
His works have been translated into Korean, English, Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, Thai and he has many fans abroad as well, thanks to the numerous adaptations of his works made into films and television series.
He passed away on October 30th 2018 at the age of 94 of organ failure in Hong Kong.
In 1947, Cha joined Shanghai's newspaper Ta Kung Pao as a journalist. One year later, he was posted to the Hong Kong division as a copyeditor. When Cha was transferred to Hsin Wan Pao as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who in 1953 wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym Liang Yusheng (梁羽生). Chen and Cha became good friends, and it was under the former's influence that Cha began work on his first serialized martial arts novel, The Romance of the Book and Sword, in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serializations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at the Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and Phoenix Film Company.
In 1959, together with fellow high-school mate Sham Po Sun (沈寶新), Cha founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. Cha served as its Editor-in-Chief for years, writing both serialized novels and editorials. His editorials were well respected, and Ming Pao gained a reputation as one of Hong Kong's most highly rated press. Cha wrote his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing, and spent the remaining years of that decade editing and revising his literary works instead. The first complete definitive edition of his works appear in 1979.
By then, Cha's martial arts novels have earned great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, TV series and radio series in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China. The important characters in his novels are so well-known to the public that they can be alluded to with ease between all three regions.
In later years in the 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. He was one of the writers who drafted the Hong Kong Basic Law, although, after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, he resigned in protest. He was also part of the Preparatory Committee set up in 1996 to supervise Hong Kong's transition by the Chinese government.
In 1993, Cha prepared for retirement from editorial work, selling all his shares in Ming Pao. Together with the royalties from his works, Cha's personal wealth is estimated at some HK$600 million. One of his cousins is the Chinese poet writer Xu Zhimo, who studied in Cambridge University.
Decorations and conferments
In addition to his novels, Cha has also written many non-fiction works on the history of China. For his achievements, he has received many honors.
Cha is a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004), as awarded by the French government. He was awarded the OBE in 1981.
Cha has also been made an honorary professor by Peking University, Zhejiang University, Nankai University, Soochow University, Huaqiao University, National Tsing Hua University, Hong Kong University (Department of Chinese Studies), the University of British Columbia, and Sichuan University, as well as an honorary doctor by Hong Kong University (Department of Social Science), Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Open University of Hong Kong, the University of British Columbia, Soka University and the University of Cambridge. He is also an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford and Robinson College, Cambridge, and Wynflete Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford.
When receiving his honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge, Cha expressed a wish to be a full-time student at Cambridge for 4 years to attain a non-honorary doctorate. As of April 2006, Cha is studying for his PhD. in Oriental Studies (Chinese History) at St. John's College, Cambridge.
Cha wrote a total of 15 pieces, of which one ("Sword of the Yue Maiden") was a short story and the other 14 were novels of various length. Most of his novels were initially published in daily instalments in the newspaper. The book editions were printed later. In order of publication these are (alternate translation in parentheses):
- Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge (The Romance of the Book and Sword)- T]: 書劍恩仇錄 S: 书剑恩仇录 (first published on The New Evening Post in 1955)
- Sword Stained with Royal Blood - T: 碧血劍 S: 碧血剑 (first published on Hong Kong Commercial Daily in 1956)
- The Legend of the Condor Heroes (The Condor-Shooting Heroes) - T: 射鵰英雄傳 S: 射雕英雄传 (first published on Hong Kong Commercial Daily in 1957)
- Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain - T: 雪山飛狐 S: 雪山飞狐 (first installment appeared on the first issue of Ming Pao in 1959)
- The Return of the Condor Heroes (The Condor & The Lovers) - T: 神鵰俠侶 S: 神雕侠侣 (1959)
- Other Tales of the Flying Fox - T: 飛狐外傳 S: 飞狐外传 (1960)
- Swordswoman Riding West on White Horse T: 白馬嘯西風 S: 白马啸西风 (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
- Blade-dance of the Two Lovers (Lovers' Sabers) T: 鴛鴦刀 S: 鸳鸯刀 (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
- The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber - T: 倚天屠龍記 S: 倚天屠龙记 (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
- Requiem of Ling Sing (A Deadly Secret) - T: 連城訣 S: 连城诀 (first published on Southeast Asia Weekly 《東南亞周刊》in 1963)
- Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (Eightfold Path of the Heavenly Dragon) - T: 天龍八部 S: 天龙八部 (1963)
- Ode to Gallantry - T: 俠客行 S: 侠客行(1965)
- The Smiling, Proud Wanderer - 笑傲江湖 (first published on Ming Pao in 1967)
- The Deer and the Cauldron (Duke of Mount Deer) - T: 鹿鼎記 S: 鹿鼎记 (1969-1972)
- Sword of the Yue Maiden - T: 越女劍 S: 越女剑 (1970)
Of these, the novels (The Legend of the Condor Heroes, The Return of the Condor Heroes, and The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber) make up a trilogy that should be read in that sequence; a number of his other works are also linked to this trilogy (Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils is somewhat of a precursor to the Condor series). Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain and The Young Flying Fox are companion pieces with the same protagonist.
After Jinyong completed all his titles, another famous Chinese writer and Jinyong's close friend Ni Kuang discovered that the first characters of all 14 titles can be joined together to form a couplet with 7 characters on each line:
- Traditional Chinese
- Simplified Chinese
- Loose translation
Shooting a white deer, snow flutters around the skies;
Smiling, [one] writes about the divine chivalrous one, leaning against bluish lovebirds
Cha himself has stated that he has never intended for any such couplet, or to have 14 books in the first place; and his explanation is reasonable, since the couplet itself sounds somewhat forced in the second line. Thus, the couplet serves primarily as a handy mnemonic to remember all of Jinyong's work for his fans.
Most of Jinyong's work were initially published in instalments in Hong Kong newspapers, most often in Ming Pao. The Return of the Condor Heroes was his first novel serialized in Ming Pao, which was launched on 20 May 1959. Between 1970 and 1980, Jinyong revised all of his work. The result is called the "New Edition" (新版, also known as 修訂版), in contrast with the "Old Edition" (舊版).
In Taiwan, the situation is more complicated, as Jinyong's books were initially banned. As a result, there were multiple editions published underground, some of which were revised beyond recognition. Only in 1979 was Jinyong's complete collection published by Taiwan's Yuenching Publishing House (遠景出版社).
In mainland China, the Wulin (武林) magazine in Guangzhou became the first to officially publish Jinyong's work, starting from 1980. Jinyong's complete collection in Simplified Chinese was published by Beijing's Sanlian Shudian (三联书店) in 1994. Meanwhile Minheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published Jinyong's collection, in Simplified Chinese for Southeast Asian readers in 1995.
Currently, Jinyong is revising his novels for the second (and probably last) time. After the latest revision is complete, the first revision will go out of print. The newly revised edition, known variably as the 世紀新修版, 新修版 or 新新版 (in contrast to 新版), is noted for annotations in which Jinyong answers criticisms directed against the historical accuracy of his work. So far the following novels have been revised:
- Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
- Sword Stained with Royal Blood
- The Legend of the Condor Heroes
- The Return of the Condor Heroes
- Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain (this canon has two alternative short stories i.e. "Blade-dance of the Two Lovers" and "Swordswoman Riding West on White Horse")
- The Young Flying Fox
- Requiem of Ling Sing
- Way of the Heroes (this canon has an alternative short story too: "Sword of the Yue maiden")
- The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
Chinese nationalism is a strong theme in Jinyong's work. Throughout his books, Jinyong places great emphasis on Han Chinese self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China was occupied or under the threat of occupation by northern peoples such as Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols, or Manchus. However, Jinyong gradually evolved Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han minorities. Jinyong himself expresses a fierce admiration for positive traits of non-Han Chinese people, like the Mongols and Manchus. In The Legend of the Condor Heroes, for example, he casts Genghis Khan and his sons as capable and intelligent military leaders against the corrupt and ineffective bureaucrats of the Han Chinese Song Dynasty. And similarly, in The Deer and the Cauldron, Jinyong portrays the Manchu Kangxi as a sovereign of compassion and ability. In Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, Xiao Feng's split loyalty between his blood ancestry as a Khitan and his adopted Han Chinese identity led to his demise.
Jinyong's books are often said to be a mini-encyclopedia on Chinese customs and culture, with references ranging from Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, wushu, music, calligraphy, weiqi, tea culture, philosophical thoughts like Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and imperial Chinese history. Historical figures often intermingle with fictional ones, making it difficult for the layperson to distinguish which is which — a feature that attests to the believability of his characters.
His works have shown a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between empire and subject, father and son, elder brother and younger brother, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and disciple, and fellow disciples. However. he sometimes questions the validity of these values in the face of a modern society. This is particularly obvious in the ostracism experienced by his two main characters — Yang Guo's romantic relationship with his martial arts master Xiaolongnü (which was considered highly improper) in The Return of the Condor Heroes. Jinyong also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face and honour.
Finally, Jinyong breaks all the rules down in his final work The Deer and the Cauldron, whose anti-hero protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, is a bastard brothel boy who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety.
The study of Jinyong's work has spun off an individual area of study and discussion: Jinology. For years, readers and critics have written works discussing, debating and analyzing his fictional world of martial arts; amongst the most famous are by Jinyong's close friend and famous Chinese sci-fi novelist, Ni Kuang, who has written series of criticism analyzing the various personalities in his books.
Despite Jinyong's popularity, some of his novels were banned outside Hong Kong due to political reasons. A number of them were outlawed in the People's Republic of China in the 1970s as they were thought to be satires of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution; others were banned in the Republic of China on Taiwan as they were thought to be in support of the Communist Party of China. None of these bans exists today, and Jinyong's complete collection has been published multiple times in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China. Many politicians on both sides of the Straits are known to be readers of his works; Deng Xiaoping, for example, was himself an avowed fan.
In late 2004, the People's Education Publishing House (人民教育出版社) of the People's Republic of China sparked off controversy by including an excerpt from Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龙八部) in a new senior high school Chinese textbook. While some praised the inclusion of popular literature, others feared that the violence and unrealistic martial arts described in Jinyong's work were unsuitable for high school students. At about the same time, Singapore's Ministry of Education announced a similar move for Chinese-learning students at secondary and junior college levels.
Lead male characters of Jinyong novels are often portrayed from a young age (around adolescence); the plot follows their trials and tribulations, before they eventually (usually) attain the highest levels of martial arts:
- Chen Jialuo (陳家洛) Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
- Yuan Chengzhi (袁承志) Sword Stained with Royal Blood
- Guo Jing (郭靖) The Legend of the Condor Heroes
- Yang Guo (楊過) The Return of the Condor Heroes
- Hu Yidao (胡一刀) Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain
- Hu Fei (胡斐)The Young Flying Fox
- Zhang Cuishan (張翠山)The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Zhang Wuji (張無忌) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Di Yun (狄雲) A Deadly Secret
- Xiao Feng (蕭峰) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Duan Yu (段譽) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Xu Zhu (虛竹) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Shi Potian (石破天) Ode to the Gallantry
- Linghu Chong (令狐沖) The Smiling Proud Wanderer
- Wei Xiaobao (韋小寶) The Duke of the Mount Deer
Female lead Characters are usually there for love interest only. There are a few exceptions, however, such as Huang Rong in The Legend of the Condor Heroes, who, in addition to serving as the love interest to male protagonist Guo Jing, is also extensively characterized on her own as an independent character, and whose name has almost become synonymous with "the sly but sweet girl":
- Princess Fragrance (香香公主) Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
- Huo Qingtong (霍青桐) Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
- Li Yuanzhi (李沅芷) Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
- Xia Qingqing (夏青青) Sword Stained with Royal Blood
- A Jiu (阿九) Princess Changping(長平公主) Sword Stained with Royal Blood
- Huang Rong (黃蓉) The Legend of the Condor Heroes
- Xiaolongnü (小龍女) The Return of the Condor Heroes
- Yuan Ziyi (袁紫衣) The Young Flying Fox
- Cheng Lingsu (程靈素) The Young Flying Fox
- Miao Ruolan (苗若蘭) Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain
- Yin Susu (殷素素) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Zhao Min (趙敏) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Xiaozhao (小昭) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Zhou Zhiruo (周芷若) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Qi Fang (戚芳) A Deadly Secret
- Shui Sheng (水笙) A Deadly Secret
- A Zhu (阿朱) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- A Zi (阿紫) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Wang Yuyan (王語嫣) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Mu Wanqing (木娩清) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Zhong Ling (鐘靈) Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
- Xiao Zhonghui (蕭中慧) 鴛鴦刀
- Li Wenxiu (李文秀) 白馬嘯西風
- Ding Dang (丁當) Ode to the Gallantry
- A Xiu (阿繡) Ode to the Gallantry
- A Qing (阿青) "Sword of the Yue Maiden" - 越女剑
- Ren Yingying (任盈盈) The Smiling Proud Wanderer
- Yue Lingshan (岳靈珊) The Smiling Proud Wanderer
- Yi Lin (儀琳) The Smiling Proud Wanderer
- Shuang Er (雙兒) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Su Quan (蘇荃) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Zeng Rou (曾柔) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Fang Yi (方怡) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Mu Jianping (沐劍屏) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Princess Jianning (建寧公主) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- A Ke (阿珂) The Duke of the Mount Deer
- Huang Yaoshi (黃藥師) LOCH & ROCH
- Ouyang Feng (歐陽峰) LOCH & ROCH
- Hong Qigong (洪七公) LOCH & ROCH
- Zhou Botong (周伯通) LOCH & ROCH
- Yideng (一燈) LOCH & ROCH
Jinyong was very free with adapting actual historical characters into his books, often making them important support characters and attributing to them fictional dialogue, actions, and so forth. For example; Borjigin Tolui, the youngest son of[Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, appears as a boyhood friend of Guo Jing, protagonist of The Legend of the Condor Heroes; Wei Xiaobao, protagonist of The Deer and the Cauldron, becomes confidant and close friend to Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty].
- Genghis Khan (成吉思汗) Legend of the Condor Heroes
- Borjigin Tolui (拖雷) Legend of the Condor Heroes
- Zhu Yuanzhang (later Hongwu Emperor of China) (朱元璋) The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
- Kangxi Emperor (康熙) The Deer and the Cauldron
- Qianlong Emperor (乾隆) Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge
Dugu Qiu Bai:
- Dugu Qiu Bai is a unique character in Jinyong's novels. His name was first mentioned in the Return of the Condor Heroes, and then again in The Smiling, Proud Wanderer. He was last mentioned in the Deer and the Cauldron.
In Jinyong's books, several sects of martial arts are repeatedly featured; many of these also exist in real life (though their details are, of course, subject to the artistic license of Jinyong). Books comparing the martial arts under Jinyong's sects have been written.
The most frequently occurring martial arts schools, sects, and cults in Jinyong's works are:
- The Shaolin Monastery Sect (少林派)
- The Wudang School (T: 武當派 S: 武当派)
- The Emei School (峨嵋派)
- The Ming Cult (明教)
- The Quanzhen School (全真派)
- The Five Sacred Mountain Sword Schools (T: 五嶽劍派 S: 五岳剑派), which are:
- Tai Shan Sword School (泰山派)
- Heng Shan Sword School (South) (衡山派)
- Hua Shan Sword School (T: 華山派 S: 华山派)
- Heng Shan Sword School (North) (恒山派)
- Song Shan Sword School (嵩山派)
- The Beggars' Sect (T: 丐幫 S: 丐帮)
|6th century BC||"Sword of the Yue Maiden"|
|11th century||Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils|
|12th century||The Legend of the Condor Heroes|
|13th century||The Return of the Condor Heroes|
|14th century||The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber|
|16th century||(The Smiling, Proud Wanderer)1Ode to Gallantry|
|17th century||Sword Stained with Royal Blood|
The Deer and the Cauldron
|18th century||Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge|
The Young Flying Fox
Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain
1 — The timeframe of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer is unspecified; Jinyong states that it is intentionally left ambiguous because the novel is allegorical in nature. Nevertheless, people have speculated on the timeframe; the most possible candidate is the Ming Dynasty, because the Wudang and Emei sects (founded at the start of the Ming Dynasty) appear prominently, and because the Manchus (who destroyed the Ming Dynasty) are not mentioned; nevertheless this hypothesis is also not without contradictions in the book: for example, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Ming Emperor, is referred to directly by name by one of the characters in Chapter 39, which would be extremely taboo if the setting were the Ming Dynasty. In several movie adaptations including 'Swordsman II' starring Jet Li, the story is specified to take place during the reign of the Wanli Emperor, which would make it the late Ming Dynasty but just before the period of Manchu encroachment.
Jinyong in English
In the last few years, Jinyong's novels have been translated into English. The books currently available are:
- The Book and the Sword (書劍恩仇錄) - published by Oxford University Press, translated by Graham Earnshaw, edited by John Minford and Rachel May
- The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記) (in three volumes) - published by Oxford University Press, translated by John Minford
- The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳) - forthcoming from Anna Holmwood and MacLehose Press
- Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain (雪山飛狐) - published by the China University Press, translated by Olivia Mok
Other works available in English include:
- Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (倚天屠龍記) - in comic book form by Wing Shing Ma, published by ComicsOne
- The Legendary Couple (神鵰俠侶) - in comic book form by Tony Wong, published by ComicsOne
- Laughing in the Wind (笑傲江湖) - DVD collection of the 2001 CCTV series with English subtitles. Shown on the AZN TV Network, by US based media company Knight Mediacom International, with DVD released on the Knight Mediacom International DVD in-home video label, distributed by Facets Video.
- WuxiaSociety - Home to Jin Yong translations and the wuxia community
- WuxiaWorld Site devoted to Jin Yong translations, discussion, and analysis
- The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (English translation)
- Online English translations of some of Jinyong's novels
- More online translations of Jinyong
- Cersil Mandarin
- Jinyong Tea House (Chinese)
- SPCNet Forum Wuxia Discussion Section
- Download Jin Yong's Novel and Ebook (Fans Translation)