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Chinese wuxia novel to go West

2017-12-14 22:00

Beijing, Dec. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by on Chinese wuxia movies landing in the European and American markets:

Chinese wuxia movies always enjoy great popularity with audiences for their creative imagination and fascinating fight scenes. They are a showcase of the Chinese wuxia culture, which has evolved from Chinese literature depicting the adventures of heroes specializing in martial arts in olden times.

Wuxia movies are among China's most famous cultural icons besides kung fu, which refers to Chinese martial arts in the real world. Wuxia movies look so impressive and so real to foreign audience that some of them even confuse the fictional world with the real one, believing all Chinese are adept at kung fu.

Here is good news for the overseas fans of wuxia movies. One of China's most influential wuxia writers, Louis Cha, also known by his pen name Jin Yong, will see his epic novel "The Legends of the Condor Heroes" translated into English and published in Europe and the United States next year. The story is a part of his Condor trilogy, regarded as China's answer to "The Lord of the Rings".

Guo Jing is the main character of the story. In his early life, he travelled around to learn various martial arts with the aim to get revenge on the enemy who killed his father. Yet, after being involved in various adventures, he learned that a true hero has to serve the nation and the people, and not focus on himself.

The story is set against a real historical background, although most of its plots are fictional. There are nearly 100 characters specializing in different martial arts and using them to pursue different goals, some for romance, some for wealth, some for power, and some for the good of the nation and the people. The novel enjoys a high reputation for its creativity, breadth and depth.

Yet, despite the popularity in Chinese-speaking regions, these novels are known only to a small group of foreign readers due to the language barrier.

The U.S.-based Quartz website recently listed some of the terms difficult to translate in the novels. For example, the term "jianghu" literally means "rivers and lakes," but in wuxia novels, it means people who live in a world parallel to conventional society, one that operates by its own laws and code of ethics.

The term "jianghu" is frequently used in wuxia stories as a core concept. Besides this term, there are many other fascinating, sometimes even bewildering names for martial arts styles. They combine to make the translation of the novels a daunting task.

In the eyes of foreigners, wuxia stories are impressive and fascinating, probably because of the wonderful Chinese kung fu scenes and an air of mystery. In fact, there are some differences between the Chinese heroes and Western superheroes in this regard – the former's excellent capabilities and skills are not the result of nature, but rather of nurture persistently cultivated under given social circumstances. Therefore, the Chinese heroes convey a uniquely extraordinary free style and easy manner.

Wuxia literally means martial heroes. As a phrase in Chinese, it contains two parts of meaning, in which "wu" literally means martial or armed and "xia" refers to a virtuous and chivalrous hero. Joined together, it conveys the idea that a martial hero should be excellent in both martial skills and moral character, with a high sense of loyalty, honesty and integrity. The philosophic elements constitute an important part of the Chinese martial arts culture and have become a spiritual ethos for both ancient Chinese martial heroes and contemporary kung fu practitioners to follow and advocate. And this is considered far more important than martial skills.

To go back on topic: Obviously, not every Chinese can be a kung fu master. However, every Chinese has high regard for the codes of conduct embodied in the wuxia culture, such as punishing evildoers and encouraging people to do good, and being honest, faithful and kindhearted. With the Chinese wuxia literature landing in the European and American markets, the colorful world of Chinese martial heroes is expected to be understood and recognized by people all over the world.

China Mosaic

Chinese wuxia novel to go West


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