Jin Yong: Kungfu Novel Master

The success of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and its achievement in winning three Oscars this year have kindled many people's interest in Chinese kungfu.

China Central Television is trying to select a cast for a new kungfu TV series, "Shediao Yingxiong Zhuan," which is based on a kungfu novel by Jin Yong.

Jin Yong is the pen name of Cha Liang Yong (Louis Cha), who was born in 1924 in Haining County of Zhejiang Province. He claims that he was very much influenced by Chinese folk literature during his childhood.

A journalist, editor and publisher by profession, he started to write and publish kungfu novels in 1955. Between 1955 and 1974, Cha published 15 works under the pen name of Jin Yong. He transformed the artistic form and content of the old type of Chinese kungfu stories into novels reflecting the modern spirit.

In the past 20 years since China opened-up to the outside world, countless Chinese people have read Jin Yong's books. According to Simon Aligen, an experienced editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, more than one billion copies of Jin Yong's books, including pirate copies, have been sold. And it is believed that probably double the amount of people may have read Jin Yong's books.

Jin Yong's kungfu novels have arguably appealed to people from university professors to farmers. Film companies have taken advantage of the public's love of Jin Yong's novels. In past decades, TV drama series and films adapted from Jin Yong's kungfu stories have regularly been seen on the screen.

Kungfu stories, a unique form in Chinese literature, originated from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). These stories generally depict a band of heroes as the embodiment of justice. The heroes always punish villains and encourage people to do good things. These books highlight Chinese Kungfu, although violence is frequently seen in these types of novels.

Famous Chinese writer Lu Xun once said that only the creation loved by a nation can be loved by the whole world.

The success of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" may sufficiently illustrate that Chinese kungfu novels are full of vitality.

(China Daily 08/15/2001)

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