Jin Yong

Jin Yong
The Honourable
Dr. Louis Cha
Born February 6, 1924 (1924-02-06) (age 87)
Haining, Zhejiang, China
Pen name Jin Yong
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality People's Republic of China (Hong Kong)
Alma mater Soochow University (B.Law)
Cambridge University (M.A. in History)
Cambridge University(Ph.D)
Period 1955–1972
Genres Wuxia
Children 4 (3 living)


Louis Cha, GBM, OBE (born 6 February 1924), better known by his pen name Jin Yong, is a modern Chinese-language novelist. Having co-founded the Hong Kong daily Ming Pao in 1959, he was the paper's first editor-in-chief.

Cha's fiction, which is of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre, has a widespread following in Chinese-speaking areas, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the United States. His 15 works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the finest wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive; over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide[1] (not including unknown number of bootleg copies).[2]

Cha's works have been translated into English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans abroad as well, owing to the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, manhua (comics) and video games.

Asteroid 10930 Jinyong (1998 CR2) is named after him.[3]



A native of Haining City, Zhejiang, China, with ancestry from Wuyuan, a county of Shangrao, Jiangxi, Cha is the second of seven children from an illustrious family of scholars; his grandfather obtained a jinshi degree in the imperial examination. 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 criticizing the Nationalist regime as autocratic. He studied at Hangzhou High School in 1937 but was dismissed in 1941. He studied in Zhejiang Province Jiaxing High School and was admitted to the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Central University in Chongqing.[4] Cha later transferred to the Faculty of Law at Dongwu University to major in international law, with the intention of working as a foreign relations official.

In 1947, Cha joined Shanghai's newspaper agency Ta Kung Pao as a journalist.[citation needed] One year later, he was posted to the Hong Kong division as a copyeditor.[citation needed] He has resided in Hong Kong ever since. When Cha was transferred to Hsin Wan Pao as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who in 1953 wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym "Liang Yusheng". Chen and Cha became good friends and it was under the former's influence that Cha began work on his first serialized martial arts novel, The Book and the Sword, in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serializations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at the Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and Phoenix Film Company.

In 1959, together with fellow high-school mate Shen Baoxin (沈寶新), Cha founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao. Cha served as its editor-in-chief for years, writing both serialized novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 characters per day. His editorials were well respected, and Ming Pao gradually gained a reputation as one of Hong Kong's most highly rated press.[clarification needed] His novels also earned him a large readership. Cha completed his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing, 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 tai chi classic Wu Jia Taijiquan, in which he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.[5]

By then, Cha's wuxia novels have earned great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, television series and radio series in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland 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 later years in the 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting committee, although, after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, he resigned in protest. He was also part of the Preparatory Committee set up in 1996 to supervise Hong Kong's transition by the Chinese government.[6]

In 1993, Cha prepared for retirement from editorial work, selling all his shares in Ming Pao. Together with the royalties from his works, Cha's personal wealth is estimated at some HK$600 million.[citation needed]

Family life

Cha married three times in his life. He divorced twice, and had two sons and two daughters, all from his second marriage. In 1976, Cha's eldest son committed suicide while a student at Columbia University.[7]

Decorations and conferments

Statue of Louis Cha on Taohua Island, Zhejiang

In addition to his novels, Cha has also written many non-fiction works on the history of China. For his achievements, he has received many honors.

Cha was awarded the OBE in 1981. He is a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004), both awarded by the French government.[8]

Cha is 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, as well as an honorary doctor by 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 is also an Honorary Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford and Robinson College, Cambridge, and Wynflete 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.[9] In July 2010, Cha earned his PhD in Oriental Studies (Chinese History) at St John's College, Cambridge with a thesis on imperial succession during the early Tang Dynasty.[10]


Cha wrote a total of 15 pieces, of which one ("Sword of the Yue Maiden") is a short story and the other 14 are novels and novellas of various length. Most of his novels were initially published in daily instalments in newspapers. The book editions were printed later. In order of publication these are[11]:

  1. The Book and the Sword (書劍恩仇錄) (first published on The New Evening Post from 1955-6)
  2. Sword Stained with Royal Blood (碧血劍) (first published on Hong Kong Commercial Daily in 1956)
  3. The Legend of the Condor Heroes (射鵰英雄傳) (first published on Hong Kong Commercial Daily in 1957-9)
  4. Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain (雪山飛狐) (first installment appeared on the first issue of Ming Pao in 1959)
  5. The Return of the Condor Heroes (神鵰俠侶) (Ming Pao, 1959–61)
  6. Other Tales of the Flying Fox (飛狐外傳) (Wuxia and History, 1960-1)
  7. Swordswoman Riding West on White Horse (白馬嘯西風) (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
  8. Blade-dance of the Two Lovers (鴛鴦刀) (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
  9. Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (倚天屠龍記) (first published on Ming Pao in 1961)
  10. A Deadly Secret (連城訣) (first published on Southeast Asia Weekly 《東南亞周刊》in 1963)
  11. Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龍八部) (Ming Pao and Singapore's Nanyang Siang Pau, 1963-6)
  12. Ode to Gallantry (俠客行) (Ming Pao, 1966-7)
  13. The Smiling Proud Wanderer (笑傲江湖) (first published on Ming Pao in 1967-9)
  14. The Deer and the Cauldron (鹿鼎記) (Ming Pao, 1969–1972)
  15. Sword of the Yue Maiden (越女劍) (Ming Pao evening supplement, 1970)

Of these, the novels (The Legend of the Condor Heroes, The Return of the Condor Heroes, and The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber) make up the Condor Trilogy that should be read in that sequence; a number of his other works are also linked to this trilogy (Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils is a precursor to the Condor Trilogy). Flying Fox of Snowy Mountain and The Young Flying Fox are companion pieces with the same protagonist with appearances of characters from The Book and the Sword. A few major characters from Sword Stained with Royal Blood also appear in his final novel The Deer and the Cauldron as minor characters.


After Cha completed all his titles, 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:

Traditional Chinese


Simplified Chinese


Loose translation

Shooting a white deer, snow flutters around the skies;
Smiling, [one] writes about the divine chivalrous one, leaning against bluish lovebirds (or lover)

Cha has stated that he has never intended to have 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 wouldn't be complete, also because the "Sword of the Yue Maiden" was so short it wasn't even considered a book.


Most of Cha's works were initially published in installments in Hong Kong newspapers, most often in Ming Pao. The Return of the Condor Heroes was his first novel serialized in Ming Pao, launched on 20 May 1959. Between 1970 and 1980, Cha revised all of his work. The result is called the "New Edition" (新版), also known as 修訂版, in contrast with the "Old Edition" (舊版), which refers to the original, serialized versions. Some characters and events were written out completely, most notably mystical elements and 'unnecessary' characters, such as the "red bird" and "Qin Nanqin", 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 mainland China, the Wulin (武林) magazine in Guangzhou became the first to officially publish Cha's works, starting from 1980. Cha's complete collection in Simplified Chinese was published by Beijing's Sanlian Shudian (三联书店) in 1994. Meanwhile Minheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published Cha's collection, in Simplified Chinese for Southeast Asian readers in 1995.

From 1999 to 2006, Cha revised his novels for the second (and probably last) time. Each of his works is carefully revised, re-edited and re-issued in the order he wrote them. This revision was completed in spring 2006, with the publication of the last, The Deer and the Cauldron. The newly revised edition, known variably as the (世紀新修版), (新修版) or (新新版), is noted for annotations in which Cha answers previous criticisms directed at the historical accuracy of his works. In this revision, certain characters' personae were changed, such as Wang Yuyan,[12] and many martial art skills and places have their names changed.[13] This edition faced a number of criticisms from Cha's fans, of whom some are more willing to stick to the older storyline and names. The older 1970-80 修訂版 is no longer issued by Cha's Minheshe (明河社).

Patriotism, jianghu and development of heroism

Chinese nationalism or patriotism is a strong theme in Cha's works. In most of his works, Cha places emphasis on the idea of Han Chinese self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China proper was occupied or under the threat of occupation by northern peoples such as Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols, or Manchus. However, Cha gradually evolved Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han 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-ruled Song Dynasty.

Cha's references range from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, Chinese martial arts, music, calligraphy, weiqi, tea culture, philosophical schools of thought such as Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism and imperial Chinese history. Historical figures often intermingle with fictional ones, making it difficult for the layperson to distinguish which is which.

His works show a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between empire and subject, father and son, elder brother and younger brother, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and disciple, and fellow disciples. 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 (which was considered highly unethical) in The Return of the Condor Heroes. Cha also places a great amount of emphasis on traditional values such as face and honour.

Cha broke his traditions of his usual writing style in The Deer and the Cauldron, where the main protagonist Wei Xiaobao is a bastard brothel rascal who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. In his 14 other serials, the protagonists or the heroes were explored meticulously in various aspects of their relationships with their teachers, their immediate kin and relatives, and with their suitors or spouses. With the exception of Wei Xiaobao, all the heroes have acquired and attained the zenith in martial arts, most would be 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 intentionally created an anticlimax and an anti-hero in Wei Xiaobao, who possesses none of the desirable traditional values and no knowledge in any form of martial arts, and depends on a protective vest made of alloy to absorb full-frontal attack when in trouble, and a dagger that can cut through anything. Wei was a street wise womanizing weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever.[citation needed] One of Cha's contemporaneous fiction writer Ni Kuang wrote a connected[clarification needed] 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 a reminder to the readers for a reality check.


The study of Cha's works has spun off an individual area of study and discussion: Jinology. For years, readers and critics have written works discussing, debating and analyzing his fictional world of martial arts; amongst the most famous are by Cha's close friend and science fiction novelist, Ni Kuang. Ni is a fan of Cha, and has written a series of criticism analyzing the various personalities and aspects of his books (我看金庸小说 series).

Despite Cha's popularity, some of his novels were banned outside 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 exists today, and Cha's complete collection has been published multiple times in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China. 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 off 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.[14]


A recurring theme in contemporary martial arts books is to group characters into different schools and sects and to portrait heroics of the main characters in the context of historical rivalries between and schools of martial arts. Cha's novels are no exception to this. Many of the schools of martial arts portrayed by Cha's works, such as the Shaolin Sect and the Wudang Sect, did exist in real life, though their details are inevitably subject to the artistic license of Cha; other cults, such as the Beggars' Sect, are less well documented. It should be noted that Cha's portrait of the schools and sects are mostly in line with their contemporary image in martial arts literature, and new sects such as the Ming Cult is the exception, used specifically as a fictional lead into the next era after the Yuan Dynasty into the Ming Dynasty.


Era Novel
6th century BC Sword of the Yue Maiden
11th century Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
13th century The Legend of the Condor Heroes
The Return of the Condor Heroes
14th century The Heavenly Sword and the Dragon Saber
16th century (The Smiling, Proud Wanderer)1
(Ode to Gallantry)2
17th century Swordswoman Riding West on White Horse
Sword Stained With Royal Blood
The Deer and the Cauldron
(A Deadly Secret)3
18th century Blade-dance of the Two Lovers
The Book and the Sword
Other Tales of the Flying Fox
Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain

1 The time frame of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer is unspecified; Cha states that it is intentionally left ambiguous because the novel is allegorical in nature. Nevertheless, people have speculated on the timeframe; the most possible candidate is the Ming Dynasty, because the Wudang and Emei sects (founded at the start of the Ming Dynasty) appear prominently, and because the Manchus (who destroyed the Ming Dynasty) are not mentioned. In The Deer and the Cauldron, the main character is also mentioned to be from a dynasty before Qing. In several film adaptations including Swordsman II starring Jet Li, the story is specified to take place during the reign of the Wanli Emperor, which would make it the late Ming Dynasty but just before the period of Manchu encroachment.

2 The time frame of Ode to Gallantry is also unspecified. The sources that would put the story in Ming Dynasty are that the mention of Zhang Sanfeng being already dead and the illustrations depict men wearing Han hairstyle.

3 The time frame of A Deadly Secret was ambiguous in its first and second editions. Cha specifically states that the story is inspired by the tragic story of his grandfather's servant seems to suggest that the events of the novel occurs near the end of the Qing Dynasty; the novel illustrations that depict men wearing Manchu hairstyle supports this idea. In the third edition of the novel, Cha links the story with Wu Liuqi, a character from The Deer and the Cauldron, fully integrating it into Qing Dynasty.

Translation of Cha's works

The books currently available are:

Other works available in English include:


There are more than 90 television series and films adapted from Cha's novels, including The Swordsman from King Hu et al., and its sequel Swordsman II from directors Ching Siu-Tung and Stanley Tong; the Wong Jing films Royal Tramp and Royal Tramp II (both starring Stephen Chow); and Wong Kar-wai's Ashes of Time. Dozens of role-playing video games are based on Cha's novels, a notable example of which is Heroes of Jin Yong (金庸群俠傳), which was based on the major characters and events in Cha's novels.

See also


  1. ^ A Book Battle in China to Make the Critics Blush - International Herald Tribune
  2. ^ (Chinese) 金庸与武侠影视 CCTV. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  3. ^ Discovery Circumstances: Numbered Minor Planets (10001)-(15000) IAU: Minor Planet Center 13 July 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  4. ^ ª÷±e«È´Ì¡Ðª÷±e¤p¶Ç
  5. ^ Wu, Kung-tsao (1980, 2006). Wu Family T'ai Chi Ch'uan (吳家太極拳). Chien-ch’uan T’ai-chi Ch’uan Association. ISBN 0-9780499-0-X. 
  6. ^ Novelist, newspaper founder and sage Asiaweek. 24 September 1999. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  7. ^ Swashbuckler Extraordinaire - A Profile of Jin Yong. Taiwan Panorama. 1998. Retrieved 10 January 2010
  8. ^ Louis Cha Awarded French Honor of Arts Xinhua News Agency. 14 October 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  9. ^ Octogenarian novelist wants to be student Shenzhen Daily. 23 June 2004. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  10. ^ http://www.zaobao.com.sg/zg/zg100912_001.shtml
  11. ^ The dates conform to the data published in 陳鎮輝,《武俠小說逍遙談》, 2000, 匯智出版有限公司, pp. 56-58
  12. ^ While Wang Yuyan accompanied Duan Yu back to Dali in older revisions, in the new revision she refused and stayed to serve Murong Fu instead. See Chapter 50 of Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils.
  13. ^ See this article.
  14. ^ (Chinese) 金庸小说也走进本地教材 Lianhe Zaobao. 4 March 2005. Retrieved 4 August 2006.

Further reading

  • The Jin Yong Phenomenon: Chinese Martial Arts Fiction and Modern Chinese Literary History. Ann Huss and Jianmei Liu. (Cambria Press, 2007).

External links

Order of precedence
Preceded by
Mo Kwan-nin
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Jao Tsung-I
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal

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