Cha's fiction, which are of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre, has a widespread following in Chinese-speaking areas, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and United States. His fourteen novels and a short fiction composed between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the finest wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive; over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide (not including unknown number of bootleg copies)
Cha's works have been translated into Korean, English, Japanese, French, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Burmese and Thai and he has many fans abroad as well, thanks to the numerous adaptations of his works made into films, television series, manhua (comic books),and video games.
Asteroid 10930 Jin Yong (1998 CR2) is named after him.
|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|
A native of Haining county, Zhejiang province, Republic of China, Cha is the second of seven children from an illustrious family of scholars; his grandfather was a jinshi. Cha was an avid reader of literature from an early age, especially of wuxia fiction, and of the classical fiction. He was once expelled from his high school for openly criticizing the Nationalist regime as autocratic. He first studied at Zhejiang Province Jiaxing High School, and was admitted to the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Central University, located in Chungking (Chongqing). Cha later transferred to the Faculty of Law at Dongwu University to major in International Law, with the intention of working as a foreign relations official.
In 1947, Cha entered Shanghai's newspaper Ta Kung Pao as a journalist. One year later, he was posted to the Hong Kong division as a copyeditor. He would reside in Hong Kong for the rest of his life. 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 (). 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 Shen Pao Sing Cha founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. Cha served as its Editor-in-Chief for years, writing both serialized novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 characters per day. His editorials were well respected, and Ming Pao gradually gained a reputation as one of Hong Kong's most highly rated press. His novels also earned him a large readership. 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. In 1980, Jin Yong wrote a postscript to Wu Gongzao's tai chi classic Wu Jia Taijiquan, in which he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.
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 a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting committee, although, after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, 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.
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 June 2007, Cha is still 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 and novellas 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):
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 with appearances of characters from The Book and the Sword. Characters from Sword Stained with Royal Blood also appear in his final novel The Deer and the Cauldron.
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 Jin Yong's work for his fans.
In Taiwan, the situation is more complicated, as Jin Yong'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 Jin Yong'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 Jin Yong's work, starting from 1980. Jin Yong'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 Jin Yong's collection, in Simplified Chinese for Southeast Asian readers in 1995.
From 1999 to 2006, Jin Yong revised his novels for the second (and probably last) time. Each of his works is carefully revised, re-edited and re-issued in the order when he wrote them. This revision has been completed in spring 2006, with the publication of the last, The Deer and the Cauldron. 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 Jin Yong answers criticisms directed against the historical accuracy of his work.
Jin Yong's books 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 show 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 also questions the validity of these values in the face of a modern society, such as 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. Jin Yong also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face and honour.
Jin Yong breaks all the rules down in his final work The Deer and the Cauldron, where Wei Xiaobao is a bastard brothel boy who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. In his fourteen other serials, the protagonists or the heroes were explored meticulously in various aspects of their relationships with their masters, their immediate kins and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. With the exception of Wei XiaoBao, all the heroes have acquired and attained the zenith in martial arts, most would be epitome or embodiment of the traditional Chinese values in words or deeds, i.e. virtuous, honourable, respectable, gentlemenly, responsible, patriotic and so forth.
In The Deer and the Cauldron, Cha intentionally created an anticlimax and an anti-Hero in Wei Xiaobao who possesses none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge in any form of martial arts, and depends on a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble, and a knife that can cut through anything. Wei was a street wise womanising weasel in short, with no admirable qualities whatsoever. One of Cha's contemporaneous fiction writer Ngai Hong or Ni Kuang wrote a connected critique to all of Cha work and concluded that Cha culminated his work with The Deer and the Cauldron as a satire to his earlier work, and a reminder to the readers for a reality check.
The study of Jin Yong'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 Jin Yong's close friend and famous Chinese sci-fi novelist, Ni Kuang-also a fan of Jinyong, who has written series of criticism analyzing the various personalities in his books.
Despite Jin Yong'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 Jin Yong'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 a well-known reader.
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 Jin Yong'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.
Jin Yong also experimented with some colourful but extremist female characters in Miejue Zitai the despicable wretched Buddhist/Taoist nun in Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre who despite of her training and religious belief conducted herself criminously to the opposite. In Li Mochou in The Return of the Condor Heroes who was a powerful opponent of Yang Guo to the end was a disturbed and the most ruthless killer(in all of Louis' writings) from her failed courtship, in strong contrast to her younger alumnus from the Gumu Pai school Xiaolongnu who would be the most pristine, innocent and beautiful female second-lead in all of Jin Yong's novels. The venomous Qiu Chianchi (裘千尺) was a tragic fully-paralyzed victim to avenge her own husband after surviving 18 years in a subterranean ravine in the The Return of the Condor Heroes. Jin Yong's brief descriptions of Dongfang Bubai in The Smiling Proud Wanderer was a self-castrated male nemesis who did so in order to complete his training in the superlative Sunflower Scripture (葵花寶典), a role later portrayed in movies by female actress.
Wang Chongyang (王重陽), the winner of the Hua Shan duel, was a true historical Taoist practitioner or daoshi who founded the Quanzhen Sect of Taoism in the Song Dynasty. Jin Yong paid him the highest accolade by according him the champion of the Five Supremes who taught generations of heroes to follow. It is also done in recognition of Taoism teachings where the many variants of the martial arts terminologies in his novels were derived from, in namesake if not in practice.
Kangxi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty is a smart and capable ruler, and a close friend of Wei Xiaobao, the protagonist in The Deer and the Cauldron. Other historical characters in The Deer and the Cauldron consist of Ao Bai, Wu Sangui, Wu Yingxiong; Wu Sangui's son, Li Zicheng, Chen Yuanyuan, Princess Changping; Ah-Ke's teacher, Shunzhi Emperor; Kang Xi's father and Songgotu who also called Suoertu; Wei XiaoBao's corrupted sworn brother who's the inner court high official.
Even some lead characters are historical characters. For example, Duan Yu from Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, Princess Changping from Sword Stained with Royal Blood and Princess Fragrance from The Book and the Sword.
|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)1|
(Ode to Gallantry)2
|17th century|| Sword Stained With Royal Blood|
The Deer and the Cauldron''
|18th century|| Book and Sword: Gratitude and Revenge|
Young Flying Fox
Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain
(A Deadly Secret)3
2 The time frame of Ode to Gallantry is also unspecified. The only sources that would put the story in Ming Dynasty are that the mention of Zhang Sanfeng being already dead and the illustrations depict men wearing Han hairstyle.
3 The time frame of A Deadly Secret was ambiguous in its first and second editions. That Jin Yong specifically states that the story is inspired by the tragic story of his grandfather's servant seems to suggest that the events of the novel occurs near the end of the Qing Dynasty. That the novel illustrations depict men wearing Manchu hairstyle supports this idea. In the third edition of the novel, Jin Yong links the story with a character from The Deer and the Cauldron, thus fully integrates it into Qing Dynasty.
Other works available in English include: