Happy Heroes 48 Print
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 18:35

Gu Long's Preface:

A Chat About Wuxia Novels

 



Huan Le Ying Xiong [A Happy Hero; or Happy Heroes] is another new attempt because wuxia stories have reached a point where they should be evolving.

In many people’s minds, not only are wuxia novels not literature or part of the literary arts, they even cannot be considered as novels. It is just like an earthworm, which, although it can move, is not considered an animal by many people.

Admittedly, this view was created because of some people’s biases, but we ourselves cannot shift off all responsibility either. Indeed, wuxia novels are sometimes written so that they are too fantastical and absurd, too dripping with blood, and it is forgotten that “human nature” is the only thing that must not be lacking in any novel.

Human nature is not limited to anger, hatred, sorrow, and fear, but it also encompasses love and friendship, generosity and chivalry, humour and compassion.

Then why do we have to deliberately emphasize only the ugly face of it?

Furthermore, our generation of wuxia writers had started approximately with Pingjiang Buxiaosheng’s Jianghu Qi Xia Zhuan [Legend of the Strange Heroes of Jianghu] and could be considered to have experienced a transformation with Wang Dulu’s Tie Qi Yin Ping [The Armoured Steed and the Silver Bottle] and Zhu Zhencai’s Qi Sha Bei [Seven Killing Stele]. With Jin Yong’s She Diao Ying Xiong Zhuan [Eagle Shooting Heroes; aka Legend of the Condor Heroes], there was another transformation, but since then, it has been over ten years [greater than 10, less than 20] already.

In these ten plus years, the several thousands and hundreds of types of wuxia novels that have been published are already innumerable. Some storylines have practically become cliché and overused styles. Veteran readers only need to read the beginning and then they will be able to guess the ending.

Therefore, if wuxia authors wish to raise their own status, they must change; if they wish to increase their readers’ interests, they also must change.

Someone said that wuxia should shift from the “wu” [martial] to the “xia” [encompasses meanings of knight-errant, hero or heroic, chivalry]. To put this in even simpler words, it means that wuxia novels should be written with a little more about light and a little less about darkness, a bit more human nature and a bit less blood.

Someone also said that with this change, the essence of wuxia stories would be denatured, and it would no longer be “genuine” wuxia. Some readers would not be able to accept this, nor willing to accept it.

Perhaps these two views are correct, but that is why we should try new things, continuously try. Although we may not entertain any extravagant hopes that people will view our wuxia novels as “literature”, we should at least hope that people will view them as “novels” and that they will share similar status as other people’s novels – similarly able to inspire people’s hearts, similarly able to strike a sympathetic chord.

Every section in Huan Le Ying Xiong can nearly be viewed as an independent story. Even if they are read separately, it does not take away from the charm – and if it still has a little bit of charm, then this new attempt cannot be considered a failure.