September 6th, 2021


My tweets


A Hero Born, by Jin Yong

Second paragraph of third chapter (goes to four paragraphs in English translation):
忽聽得巨鐘下的銅缸內噹噹噹響聲不絕,不知裏面是何怪物,眾僧面面相覷,手足無措,當下齊聲口誦﹁高王經﹂,豈知﹁救苦救難﹂、﹁阿彌陀佛﹂聲中,缸內響音始終不停,最後終於大了膽子,十多個和尚合力用粗索吊起大鐘,剛將銅缸掀起少許,裏面滾出來一個巨大的肉團。眾僧大驚,四散逃開。只見那肉團一躍站起,呼呼喘氣,卻是韓寶駒。他被罩在銅缸之中,不知後半段的戰局,眼見焦木圓寂,義兄弟個個重傷,急得哇哇大叫。提起金龍鞭便欲向丘處機頭頂擊落。全金發叫道:﹁三哥,不可!﹂韓寶駒怒道:﹁為甚麼?﹂全金發腰間劇痛,只道:﹁千 …… 千萬不可。﹂ A knocking from inside the bell in the hall suddenly interrupted their work. The monks looked at each other: was it a monster? They began chanting “The King’s Sutra”, accompanied by the mysterious banging. Eventually some among them pulled the bell aside and together lifted the censer. To their horror, out rolled a ball of flesh. The monks jumped back in fright. The ball then slowly uncurled and stood up; it was Ryder Han. He was unaware of how the fight had ended, but immediately spotted that Scorched Wood was at eternal rest and his martial family gravely injured. Taking up his Golden Dragon whip he marched towards where Qiu Chuji was lying and raised it above the Taoist’s head.
“Third Brother, no!” Gilden Quan cried.
“Why not?”
“You mustn’t,” was all his brother could manage through the pulsing pain in his stomach.
Back at Eastercon, I attended a panel on Chinese sf and fantasy, and this was one of several books strongly recommended. The author is described by Wikipedia as Hong Kong's greatest writer, and also one of the key renewers of the subgenre of wuxia, heroic martial arts fantasy set in what we would call the Middle Ages. A Hero Born is the first of four volumes comprising the translation of Jin Yong's most famous book, The Legend of the Condor Heroes, originally published in 1957.

It is a lot of fun. intersecting plot lines include children with a hidden heritage growing up, the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan (a group of virtuous martial artists each with his or her own skill) and Genghis Khan. Unlike a lot of Chinese literature that I have previously tried, I never got lost with the characters or the geography. I don't think I will persevere with the series, but this was a great start. You can get it here.

One always has to wonder what the linkage is between literature and politics here. Deng Xiaoping was a big fan, and the author (real name Louis Cha Leung-yung) was the first non-Communist who he met in Hong Kong. I think that the core message of the desirability of a united China dealing collectively with external and internal threats is pretty clear, but it's not shoved down your throat. (And most countries would want the same for themselves.)

This was my top unread book by a non-white writer. Next on that list is Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, eds. Zelda Knight & Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald.