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Paper Swordsmen

Paper Swordsmen: Jin Yong and the Modern Chinese Martial Arts Novel

John Christopher Hamm
Copyright Date: 2005
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  • Book Info
    Paper Swordsmen
    Book Description:

    The martial arts novel is one of the most distinctive and widely-read forms of modern Chinese fiction. In Paper Swordsmen, John Christopher Hamm offers the first in-depth English-language study of this fascinating and influential genre, focusing on the work of its undisputed twentieth-century master, Jin Yong. Through close readings of Jin Yong’s recognized masterpieces, Hamm shows how these works combine a rich literary tradition with an extraordinary narrative artistry and an evolving appreciation of the political and cultural aspects of contemporary Chinese experience.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6386-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. A Note on Conventions
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Chapter 1 Introduction: The Literary and Historical Contexts of New School Martial Arts Fiction
    (pp. 1-31)

    In Hong Kong and Taiwan, and in Chinese communities overseas, the latter half of the 1950s saw an explosion in the popularity ofwuxia xiaoshuo—“fiction of martial arts and chivalry,” or “martial arts fiction” for short.¹ Well into the 1970s, martial arts novels were written, circulated, and read in quantities unseen since the prewar heyday of the so-called Mandarin Ducks and Butterflies School. To distinguish it from its predecessors, the reemergent body of martial arts fiction was quickly dubbed the New School. The works published in this period, their imitators and successors, and their adaptations into film, television drama,...

  6. Chapter 2 Local Heroes: Guangdong School Martial Arts Fiction and the Colony of Hong Kong
    (pp. 32-48)

    Standard accounts divide twentieth-century Chinese martial arts fiction into Old School, produced in Shanghai, Tianjin, and other urban centers before the war, and New School, which emerged in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the 1950s and 1960s. As the very names “Old School” and “New School” make clear, this narrative is one of regeneration, even revolution, but simultaneously one of inheritance and continuity. The New School authors themselves proclaimed their indebtedness to their antebellum predecessors. Liang Yusheng, the pen name chosen by the New School’s “founder,” Chen Wentong, suggests that the author was born(sheng)of the Old School master...

  7. Chapter 3 The Marshes of Mount Liang Beyond the Sea: Jin Yong’s Early Fiction and Postwar Hong Kong
    (pp. 49-78)

    As dramatic as the growth of Hong Kong’s Chinese population in the postwar years was the shift in this population’s relationship with the Chinese mainland. Throughout the colony’s previous history, its Chinese residents had largely hailed from Guangzhou and adjoining areas, and their movement back and forth across the border had been relatively unrestricted. Hong Kong had accordingly served as a haven of economic opportunity or temporary political refuge for a population whose familial and cultural roots remained elsewhere. During the upheavals of the 1930s and 1940s these “locals” were joined by an increasing number of “outlanders”(waishengren),refugees from...

  8. Chapter 4 National Passions: From The Eagle-Shooting Heroes to The Giant Eagle and Its Companion
    (pp. 79-113)

    WithThe Eagle-Shooting HeroesandThe Giant Eagle and Its Companion,Jin Yong’s fiction emerges more confidently from the nurturing and shaping soil of its contexts to assert a new distinctiveness and independence. This independence manifests in multiple modes: thematic, institutional, and critical, and it is the articulation of the new thematic vision that is the primary focus of this chapter. These two novels represent the consummation of that heroic nationalism expressed through a dialectic of heartland versus geo-cultural margins, which hints at an underlying consciousness of exile. At the same time, they reveal the coalescence and increasing dominance of...

  9. Chapter 5 The Empire of the Text: Jin Yong and Ming Pao
    (pp. 114-136)

    In November 1998 the Republic of China’s Center for Chinese Studies, the China Times Literary Supplement, and Yuanliu Publishing Company Ltd. cosponsored the International Academic Conference on Jin Yong’s Novels. The three days of the conference featured presentations by scholars and critics from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Chinese mainland, other Asian countries, Europe, and the United States. The meeting was convened in the International Conference Hall at the National Central Library in Taipei, where speakers mounted the dais beneath an immense reproduction of the landscape painting commissioned for the latest Yuanliu edition of Jin Yong’s works. Opening remarks were...

  10. Chapter 6 Beyond the Rivers and Lakes: The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
    (pp. 137-167)

    Xiaoao jianghu(titled in English asThe Smiling, Proud Wanderer,and referred to hereafter asWanderer) was serialized inMing Paofrom April 20, 1967, through October 12, 1969; a revised version first appeared in 1977–1978. The publisher’s English version of the title does not convey the full range of meaning suggested by the original. Sincejianghu,here rendered with the sense of “one who wanders (the Rivers and Lakes),” more directly denotes the Rivers and Lakes themselves, the title can also be understood as implying “scornfully laughingatthe Rivers and Lakes”—a gesture succinctly expressive of the...

  11. Chapter 7 Revision and Canonization: From Ming Pao to The Collected Works of Jin Yong
    (pp. 168-197)

    The manipulation of the supposed boundaries between entertainment and serious journalism evident in such early editorials as “Some Remarks on the MissWorld Pageant” represents a first step in the canny leveraging ofMing Pao’s credibility, which over the years garnered increasing respect and status for the paper and its sister publications. This increasing status inevitably reflected upon the paper’s publisher and editorialist, and upon the fiction he published in its pages as well, while the particular cultural and political stances articulated inMing Pao’s editorials and through theMing Pao Monthlysupplied the fiction with potential (though not restrictive) interpretive...

  12. Chapter 8 Beyond Martial Arts Fiction: The Deer and the Cauldron
    (pp. 198-226)

    The September 1981 issue ofMing Pao Monthlyeschewed the multiple titles and leads that customarily vied for attention on its cover in favor of a single dramatic headline, printed against a photograph of the red walls of Tiananmen, gateway to the historic seat of China’s emperors and symbolic center of the Communist regime: “Mr. Zha Liangyong on his Journey to China.” The issue featured an interview with Zha on his month-long trip to the mainland in July and August, and a report of his personal meeting with Deng Xiaoping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on July 18,...

  13. Chapter 9 Coming Home: Jin Yong’s Fiction in Mainland China
    (pp. 227-249)

    Jin Yong’s fiction entered mainland China as one part of the massive influx of “Gang-Tai” (Hong Kong and Taiwanese) popular culture in the 1980s. The spread of this Gang-Tai culture was a major aspect of what was sometimes called a “popular culture craze”(tongsu re);and the conditions for the increasing commercialization of the mainland cultural sphere, and its development in directions increasingly independent of the central authorities’ ideological agendas, were established by the pragmatic reform policies instituted under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping. Thomas Gold sketches the circumstances as follows:

    [T]he Party undertook economic reforms to regain the legitimacy...

  14. Chapter 10 Jin Yong at the Century’s End: The Wang Shuo Incident and Its Implications
    (pp. 250-260)

    On November 1, 1999 the high-circulation Beijing dailyZhongguo qingnian baopublished an essay by Wang Shuo entitled “Wo kan Jin Yong” (Reading Jin Yong).¹ The title (which translates more literally as “I read Jin Yong” or “I look at Jin Yong”) may recall that of Ni Kuang’s first volume of Jinology but is also so generic a heading for a piece of literary criticism or commentary as to attract attention only for its utter plainness. Plainspokenness is in fact the author’s aim and chief technique. Wang Shuo begins by explaining that he has always been dismissive of Hong Kong...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 261-300)
  16. Select Glossary of Chinese Characters
    (pp. 301-310)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 311-340)
  18. Index
    (pp. 341-348)