Female Oxford Grad to Publish Her Translation of Chinese Classical 'Wuxia' Novel

October 28, 2017
By CGTNEditor: Rong Chen
A poster of the TV plays 'The Legends of the Condor Heroes.' [CGTN]


Louis Cha Leung-yung's wuxia novel "The Legends of the Condor Heroes", based on Chinese martial arts and chivalry, will be translated into English and published by a British publishing house next year, Shanghai-based newspaper The Paper reported.

Louis Cha Leung-yung is popular with his pen name Jin Yong.

It is the first time for this novel to be officially translated into English, although it has already enjoyed massive popularity in the Chinese-speaking regions.

The book is based on the story of Guo Jing, and how he grew up into a martial arts master to become a national hero in the Song Dynasty (960-1297). Though most of its characters and plots were fictional, the story was set against a real historical background, when the Southern Song regime (1127-1279) was repeatedly invaded and threatened by rising Jurchen Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).

The novel was first published in Hong Kong in 1957, and it soon turned into an incredible success, to become one of the most popular martial arts novels in China. In the past 60 years, the book has been adapted into dozens of TV dramas and movies.

A Chinese version of 'Game of Thrones'

According to the British publishing house Maclehose Press, the novel will be compiled into 12 volumes. The first volume "A Hero Born" is expected to hit the market on February 22, 2018. It will be priced at 14.99 pounds.

The publisher is marketing the book to the Western readers as a Chinese version of the "Game of Thrones." The author is also mentioned in the introduction as one of the best-selling writers in the world. Over 100 million copies of Jin Yong’s books have been sold worldwide, not including a considerable number of the pirated copies.

Anna Holmwood has translated the first volume of Jin Jong's work.

Earlier, she used to collaborate with Chinese writers as their publishing agent. She had developed an interest in Chinese literature in 2006 while pursuing her Master's degree in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. She has been working to translate and promote Chinese-literature for seven years.

She lived in the city of Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province while translating the first volume. For her, it was like "going back to the ancient city of Lin'an," an ancient name for Hangzhou, where the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty is located.

Jin Yong has written 15 novels based on martial arts, but only three were translated into English, including the "Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain" translated by Olivia Mok, "The Deer and the Cauldron" by John Minford, and "The Book and the Sward" by Graham Earnshaw.

An Emerging Overseas Market for Chinese Martial Arts Novels

Jin Yong enjoys massive popularity among the Chinese readers. However, the Western world has barely heard of his name, partly because of the limited power of translations to accurately transform emotion and essence of traditional Chinese culture and literature into English.

Literary work based on martial arts is also known as wuxia novel, is a unique literary genre in China. Most of such stories depict heroic characters and their martial arts and chivalry with or without real historical background. Most of these stories are weaved with fantasy colors to an extent, and therefore involve many Chinese philosophies and mythologies such as Taoism, Buddhism, yin and yang, the eight trigrams and wu xing, or the Five Elements.

The connotations of chivalry, jianghu, and kungfu are challenging to explain to the western readers through a translated work.

However, in recent years, online literature market and e-books has expanded the realm of Chinese martial arts novels and has reached the bookshelves of readers based in Western countries.

A website devoted to translating Chinese literature into English, known as Wuxiaworld, has already found a place in the world's top 1,500 large websites, registering a daily visit of over 300,000.

The scale of the website is still growing. And now, with the traditional publishing houses in, it is expected that the Chinese literature would reach a more significant group of readers in the future.


Cover of the English version of 'The Legends of the Condor Heroes' to be published in 2018. [The Paper]


(Source: CGTN)

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