Louis Cha Leung-yung
(; 6 February 1924 – 30 October 2018), better known by his pen name
Jin Yong (), pronounced "Gum Yoong" in Cantonese, was a Chinese wuxia
") novelist and essayist who co-founded the Hong Kong daily newspaper ''Ming Pao
'' in 1959 and served as its first editor-in-chief. He was Hong Kong's most famous writer,
and is named along with Gu Long
and Liang Yusheng
as the "Three Legs of the Tripod of Wuxia".
novels have a widespread following in Chinese communities worldwide. His 15 works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the greatest and most popular wuxia writers ever. By the time of his death he was the best-selling Chinese author, and over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide (not including an unknown number of pirated copies). According to ''The Oxford Guide to Contemporary World Literature'', Jin Yong's novels are considered to be of very high quality and are able to appeal to both highbrow and lowbrow tastes.
His works have the unusual ability to transcend geographical and ideological barriers separating Chinese communities of the world, achieving a greater success than any other contemporary Hong Kong writer.
His works have been translated into many languages including English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans outside of Chinese-speaking areas, as a result of the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, comics and video games.
The asteroid 10930 Jinyong
) is named after him.
Cha was born Zha Liangyong in Haining
in Republican China
, the second of seven children. He hailed from the scholarly Zha clan of Haining
(), whose members included notable literati of the late Ming
and early Qing
dynasties such as Zha Jizuo
(1601–1676), Zha Shenxing
(查慎行; 1650–1727) and Zha Siting
(查嗣庭; died 1727). His grandfather, Zha Wenqing (), obtained the position of a ''tong jinshi chushen
'' (third class graduate) in the imperial examination
during the Qing dynasty. His father, Zha Shuqing (), was arrested and executed by the Communist government
for allegedly being a counterrevolutionary during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries
in the early 1950s. Zha Shuqing was later posthumously declared innocent in the 1980s.
Cha was an avid reader of literature from an early age, especially wuxia and classical fiction. He was once expelled from his high school for openly criticising the Nationalist government
as autocratic. He studied aJiaxing No. 1 Middle School
in 1937 but was expelled in 1941. He continued his high school education at Quzhou No. 1 Secondary School and graduated in 1943.
Cha was admitted to the Department of Foreign Languages at the Central University of Political Affairs
. Cha later dropped out of the school. He took the entrance exam and gained admission to the Faculty of Law at Soochow University
, where he majored in international law with the intention of pursuing a career in the foreign service.
In 2005, Cha applied at Cambridge University
for a doctorate in Asian Studies, which he obtained in 2010. In 2009, Cha applied for another doctorate in Chinese literature at Peking University
, which he earned in 2013.
Cha was a journalist. When Cha was transferred to ''New Evening Post
'' (of British Hong Kong
) as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym "Liang Yusheng
" in 1953. Chen and Cha became good friends and it was under the former's influence that Cha began work on his first serialised martial arts novel, ''The Book and the Sword
'', in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serialisations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd
and Phoenix Film Company.
In 1959, Cha co-founded the Hong Kong newspaper ''Ming Pao
'' with his high school classmate Shen Baoxin (). Cha served as its editor-in-chief for years, writing both serialised novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 Chinese characters
per day. His novels also earned him a large readership. Cha completed his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing novels, and spent the remaining years of that decade editing and revising his literary works instead. The first complete definitive edition of his works appeared in 1979. In 1980, Cha wrote a postscript to Wu Gongzao
's taiji classic
''Wu Jia Taijiquan'', where he described influences from as far back as Laozi
on contemporary Chinese martial arts.
By then, Cha's wuxia novels had gained great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, TV shows and radio dramas in Hong Kong, Taiwan and 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 the late 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. After Deng Xiaoping
, a Jin Yong fan, came to power and initiated the reform and opening-up
process, Cha became the first non-Communist Hong Konger to meet with Deng. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law
drafting committee but resigned in protest after the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989
. He was also part of the Preparatory Committee
set up in 1996 by the Chinese government to monitor the 1997 transfer of sovereignty.
In 1993, Cha prepared for retirement from editorial work and sold all his shares in ''Ming Pao''.
Cha's parents were Zha Shuqing () and Xu Lu (). He had four brothers and two sisters, and was the second oldest among the seven of them. His brothers were Zha Liangjian (; 1916–1988), Zha Lianghao (; b. 1934), Zha Liangdong (; 1930s) and Zha Liangyu (; b. 1936). His sisters were Zha Liangxiu (; b. 1926) and Zha Liangxuan (; 1928–2002).
Cha married three times. His first wife was Du Zhifen (), whom he married in 1948 but divorced later. In 1953, he married his second wife, Zhu Mei (), a newspaper journalist. They had two sons and two daughters: Zha Chuanxia (), Zha Chuanti (), Zha Chuanshi () and Zha Chuanne (). Cha divorced Zhu in 1976 and married his third wife, Lin Leyi (; b. 1953), who was 29 years his junior and 16 years old when they married. In 1976, his son Zha Chuanxia, then 19 years old, committed suicide after a quarrel with his girlfriend while studying at Columbia University
On 30 October 2018, Cha died after a long illness at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital
in Happy Valley, Hong Kong
, aged 94.
His funeral service was held privately at Hong Kong Funeral Home
in Quarry Bay
in 13 November 2018 with his family and friends, with well known figures including writers Ni Kuang
, Chua Lam
, Chip Tsao
, Benny Lee
, producer Zhang Jizhong
, actor Huang Xiaoming
, former President of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Poon Chung-kwong
, image designer Tina Liu
, politicians Tung Chee-hwa
and Edward Leong
, and founder of Alibaba Group Jack Ma
among them in attendance.
At noon, his coffin was moved to Po Lin Monastery
at Ngong Ping
, Lantau Island
, where he was cremated and his ashes was interred at the Hoi Wui Tower’s columbarium.
Decorations and conferments
In addition to his wuxia novels, Cha also wrote many non-fiction works on Chinese history. For his achievements, he received many honours.
Cha was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire
(OBE) by the British government in 1981. He was made a ''Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur
'' (1992) and a ''Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
'' (2004) by the French government.
Cha was also an honorary professor
at 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
. Cha was an honorary doctor at National Chengchi University
, 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 was also an honorary fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford
and Robinson College, Cambridge
, and a Waynflete Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford
When receiving his honorary doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2004, Cha expressed his wish to be a full-time student at Cambridge for four years to attain a non-honorary doctorate. In July 2010, Cha earned his Doctor of Philosophy
in oriental studies (Chinese history) at St John's College, Cambridge
with a thesis on imperial succession in the early Tang dynasty
Cha wrote a total of 16 fictional works, of which one is an only non-Wuxia short story
(Yue Yun),changed. a novelette
("Sword of the Yue Maiden"), 2 novella
s (White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind and Blade-dance of the Two Lovers) and 12 novel
s of varying lengths. Most of his novels were first published in daily instalments in newspapers, then later in book editions. The works are:
Of these, the long novels ''The Legend of the Condor Heroes'', ''The Return of the Condor Heroes'' and ''The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber'' make up the ''Condor Trilogy
'' (considered by many to be Cha's ''magnum opus
'') and should be read in that order. The novel ''Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils'' is a prequel
story to the ''Condor Trilogy'' as the Northern Beggar of the Five Greats, Hong Qigong
succeeds Qiao Feng as the new chief of the Beggars' Sect
in The Legend of the Condor Heroes
and Duan Yu is the fictional ancestor of the historical character Duan Zhixing
who later becomes the Reverend Yideng, another member of the Five Greats in The Legend of the Condor Heroes
. Aqing, the protagonist of the novelette, The "Sword of the Yue Maiden" is the ancestor of Han Xiaoying from The Legend of the Condor Heroes. Together, the word count of the novels and the novelette is 4080000. The novella ''Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain'' and its prequel novel ''The Young Flying Fox'' are companion works with the same protagonist, and numerous characters from ''The Book and the Sword'' appear in ''The Young Flying Fox''. Together, the word count of the novels is 1082000. Wu Liuqi
, a historical character from ''The Deer and the Cauldron
'', is mentioned in the third edition of ''A Deadly Secret.'' A few major characters from ''Sword Stained with Royal Blood'' also appear in Cha's final novel ''The Deer and the Cauldron'' as minor characters, and some characters and sects from ''The Smiling, Proud Wanderer'' are mentioned in ''Sword Stained with Royal Blood''. Together, the word count of the novels is 2926000.
After Cha completed all his works, it was discovered that the first characters of the first 14 titles can be joined together to form a couplet
with 7 characters on each line:
Shooting a white deer, snow flutters around the skies;
writes about the divine chivalrous one,
leaning against bluish lovebirds (or lover)
Cha stated that he had never intended to create the couplet. The couplet serves primarily as a handy mnemonic
to remember all of Cha's works for his fans.
*"Sword of the Yue Maiden" was left out because it would be an odd number, thus the couplet would not be complete, also because the "Sword of the Yue Maiden" was so short it was not even considered a book.
Most of Cha's works were initially published in instalments in Hong Kong newspapers, most often in ''Ming Pao''. ''The Return of the Condor Heroes
'' was his first novel serialised in ''Ming Pao'', launched on 20 May 1959. Between 1970 and 1980, Cha revised all of his works. The revised works of his stories are known as the "New Edition" (新版), also known as "Revised Edition" (修訂版), in contrast with the "Old Edition" (舊版), which refers to the original, serialised versions. Some characters and events were written out completely, most notably mystical elements and 'unnecessary' characters, such as the "Blood Red Bird" (小紅鳥) and "Qin Nanqin" (秦南琴), the mother of Yang Guo
in the first edition.
In Taiwan, the situation is more complicated, as Cha'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 Cha's complete collection published by Taiwan's Yuenching Publishing House (遠景出版社).
In China, the ''Wulin'' (武林) magazine in Guangzhou
was the first to officially publish Cha's works, starting from 1980. Cha's complete collection in Simplified Chinese
was published by Beijing's SDX Joint Publishing
in 1994. Meanwhile, Mingheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published his collection, in Simplified Chinese for Southeast Asian readers in 1995.
From 1999 to 2006, Cha revised his novels for the second and last time. Each of his works was carefully revised, re-edited and re-issued in the order in which he wrote them. This revision was completed in spring 2006, with the publication of the last novel, ''The Deer and the Cauldron''. The newer revised edition, known variably as the "New Century Edition" (世紀新修版), "New Revised Edition" (新修版) and "New New Edition" (新新版), is noted for its annotations where Cha answers previous criticisms directed at the historical accuracy of his works. In the newer revision, certain characters' personae were changed, such as Wang Yuyan, and many martial art skills and places have their names changed. This edition faced a number of criticisms from Cha's fans, some of whom prefer the older storyline and names. The older 1970–80 "New Edition" (新版) is no longer issued by Cha's publisher Mingheshe (明河社). In mainland China, it is re-issued as "Langsheng, Old Edition" (朗声旧版) in simplified Chinese characters format.
Patriotism, jianghu and development of heroism
or patriotism is a strong theme in Cha's works. In most of his works, Cha places emphasis on the idea of self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China was occupied or under the threat of occupation by non-Han Chinese
peoples such as the Khitan
s. However, Cha gradually evolved his Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han Chinese minorities. Cha expresses a fierce admiration for positive traits of non-Han Chinese people personally, such as the Mongols and Manchus. In ''The Legend of the Condor Heroes
'', for example, he casts Genghis Khan
and his sons as capable and intelligent military leaders against the corrupt and ineffective bureaucrats of the Han Chinese-led Song dynasty
Cha's references range from traditional Chinese medicine
, martial arts
, tea culture
, philosophical schools of thought such as Confucianism
and imperial Chinese history. Historical figures often intermingle with fictional ones, making it difficult for the layperson to distinguish which are real.
His works show a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between ruler and subject, parent and child, elder sibling and younger sibling, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and apprentice, and among fellow apprentices. 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 teacher Xiaolongnü
in ''The Return of the Condor Heroes''. Cha also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face
In all but his 14th work, ''The Deer and the Cauldron
'', the protagonists or heroes are explored meticulously through their relationships with their teachers, their immediate kin and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. In each, the heroes have attained the zenith in martial arts and most would be the epitome or embodiment of the traditional Chinese values in words or deeds, i.e. virtuous, honourable, respectable, gentlemanly, responsible, patriotic, and so forth.
In ''The Deer and the Cauldron'', Cha departed from his usual writing style, creating in its main protagonist Wei Xiaobao
who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. Cha intentionally created an anticlimax and an ''antihero'' possessing none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge of any form of martial arts, and dependent upon a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble and a dagger that can cut through anything. Wei is a street urchin and womanising weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever. The fiction writer Ni Kuang
wrote a connected critique of all of Cha's works and concluded that Cha concluded his work with ''The Deer and the Cauldron'' as a satire to his earlier work and to restore a balanced perspective in readers.
The study of Cha's works has spun off a specific area of study and discussion: Jinology. For years, readers and critics have written works discussing, debating and analysing his fictional world of martial arts; among the most famous are those by Cha's close friend and science fiction novelist, Ni Kuang
. Ni is a fan of Cha, and has written a series of criticisms analysing the various personalities and aspects of his books called ''I Read Jin Yong's Novels'' (我看金庸小說).
Despite Cha's popularity, some of his novels were banned outside of 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 (Taiwan) as they were thought to be in support of the Communist Party of China
. None of these bans are currently in force, and Cha's complete collection has been published multiple times in Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Many politicians on both sides of the Straits are known to be readers of his works; Deng Xiaoping
, for example, was a well-known reader himself.
In late 2004, the People's Education Publishing House (人民教育出版社) of the People's Republic of China sparked controversy by including an excerpt from ''Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
'' 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 Cha's works 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.
Translations of Cha's works
Official English translations currently available include:
*''A Hero Born (Legends of the Condor Heroes #1)
'' - is the first volume of the 4-volume novel, translated by Anna Holmwood, published by MacLehose Press
*''A Bond Undone (Legends of the Condor Heroes #2)
'' - translated by Gigi Chang, continues Holmwood's translation, published by Quercus Publishing.
*''A Snake Lies Waiting (Legends of the Condor Heroes #3)
'' - translated by Gigi Chang and Anna Holmwood,, published by Quercus Publishing.
*''A Heart Divided (Legends of the Condor Heroes #4)
'' - translated by Gigi Chang and Shelly Bryant published by Quercus Publishing.
*''The Book and the Sword
'' – published by Oxford University Press
, translated by Graham Earnshaw, edited by John Minford
and Rachel May.
*''The Deer and the Cauldron
'' (abridged in three volumes) – published by Oxford University Press, translated by John Minford
*''Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain
'' – published by Chinese University Press
, translated by Olivia Mok.
Other works available in English include:
*''The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber
'' – in comic book form by Ma Wing-shing
, published by ComicsOne
*''The Legendary Couple
'' – in comic book form by Tony Wong, published by ComicsOne
*''The Return of the Condor Heroes
'' – in comic book form by Wee Tian Beng, published by Asiapac Books
*''Laughing in the Wind
'' – DVD collection of the 2001 CCTV series with English subtitles released in the United States.
There are over 90 films and TV shows adapted from Cha's wuxia novels, including King Hu
's ''The Swordsman
'' (1990) and its sequel ''Swordsman II
'' (1992), Wong Jing
's 1992 films ''Royal Tramp
'' and ''Royal Tramp II
'', and Wong Kar-wai
's ''Ashes of Time
'' (1994). Dozens of role-playing video games are based on Cha's novels, a notable example of which is ''Heroes of Jin Yong
'', which was based on the major characters and events in Cha's novels.
As film director
Jin Yong co-directed 2 films produced by Hong Kong's Great Wall Movie Enterprises
. In both films he is credited as Cha Jing-yong, his official name in Hong Kong.
* Gu Long
* Liang Yusheng
* Woon Swee Oan
*''Stateless Subjects: Chinese Martial Arts Literature and Postcolonial History'', Chapters 3 and 4. Petrus Liu. (Cornell University
Jin Yong Teahouse (金庸茶館)
– fansite of Jin Yong's novels in Chinese
Jin Yong Jianghu (金庸江湖)
– fansite, forums and complete works of Jin Yong's novels
in the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction
Category:Chinese historical novelists
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Category:Officers of the Order of the British Empire
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