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Thread: Something that made SPW different from all the rest of the Jin Yong canon.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Something that made SPW different from all the rest of the Jin Yong canon.

    Anyone who knows the story of SMILING PROUD WANDERER knows that it has a very different character from the rest of Jin Yong's major novels. SPW doesn't seem to fit well in a single continuity with the CONDOR HEROES TRILOGY, DGSD (its closest kissing cousin, but still quite different from it), let alone the Qing Dynasty-era stories.

    I attribute this to the fact that among Jin Yong's long stories, SPW was the only *purely* wulin story. Most of the other Jin Yong stories also played at being historical fiction: they were set against foreign invasion/occupation, and resisting the foreigners was a major motif of the other works. SPW, being completely free of even the slightest hint of foreign invasion/occupation, focuses much more on wulin (without any ties to national/international politics or war), including the more mystical aspects of it.

    In this sense, SPW is the antithesis of the Qing Dynasty stories, which are deeply set in history/politics and grounded in a grittier realism (which I'll get to in the next thread).

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    Ode to Gallantry is also a non political, wulin-centric story, but I agree it still doesn't explore wulin in the way SPW does. HSDS still feels very wulin-centric to me despite a lot of politics happening, also.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    HSDS was definitely the most wulin-centric part of the CONDOR HEROES TRILOGY, but SPW seemed almost to be in a world of its own. I always feel that SPW feels more like a Gu Long story than a typical Jin Yong story, and sure enough, it's set in Gu Long's favored time period (the Ming Dynasty).

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    Yeah, I especially like the huge varieties of martial arts levels and abundance of characters that have quite a bit of charm and personality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Anyone who knows the story of SMILING PROUD WANDERER knows that it has a very different character from the rest of Jin Yong's major novels. SPW doesn't seem to fit well in a single continuity with the CONDOR HEROES TRILOGY, DGSD (its closest kissing cousin, but still quite different from it), let alone the Qing Dynasty-era stories.

    I attribute this to the fact that among Jin Yong's long stories, SPW was the only *purely* wulin story. Most of the other Jin Yong stories also played at being historical fiction: they were set against foreign invasion/occupation, and resisting the foreigners was a major motif of the other works. SPW, being completely free of even the slightest hint of foreign invasion/occupation, focuses much more on wulin (without any ties to national/international politics or war), including the more mystical aspects of it.
    According to the postcript that JY wrote, SPW is a political allegory about the Cultural Revolution. That's why it doesn't involve any foreign invasion/occupation as CR was a purely domestic issue. I think the preoccupation with foreign occupation in JY's fiction is a reaction to the historical events that happened during JY's formative years i.e. the Japanese and European occupation of China. JY projected his concerns about colonialism into the historical past, when China's colonizers were Mongols and Manchus instead of the Japanese and Europeans. I wonder why JY never wrote a story where his heroes have to fight Western or Japanese enemies --- they were plenty of incidents involving those two during the Ming/ Qing Dynasty (attacks by Japanese pirates, war against the Dutch in Taiwan, etc.). Later on, there were the Opium Wars and the Taiping/ Boxer rebellions. But perhaps those eras are not suitable for wuxia setting as the use of firearms was already widespread.

    WXB does fight the Russians in DOMD, but it's more of a (farcical, thanks to WXB being involved) border skirmish than an all out war.

    It is interesting to me that JY chooses to endow the Manchus and Mongol characters (Genghis Khan, Kangxi and Qianlong) with admirable qualities, even though they're antagonists, but the Han Chinese bad guys in SPW like YBQ, ZLC, LPC etc. are just evil, with virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

    Perhaps, it is the way that JY acknowledged how much better and freer life in British-occupied HK was compared to mainland China at that time.

    In this sense, SPW is the antithesis of the Qing Dynasty stories, which are deeply set in history/politics and grounded in a grittier realism (which I'll get to in the next thread).
    In JY's universe, MA level deterioriates with the passing centuries, and so does the fantastic elements in his stories. The Qing dynasty is simply to recent to have horses that sweat blood or divine condors running around China.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Last edited by sandy1; 04-06-12 at 11:37 AM.

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    Senior Member Ian Liew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy1 View Post
    It is interesting to me that JY chooses to endow the Manchus and Mongol characters (Genghis Khan, Kangxi and Qianlong) with admirable qualities, even though they're antagonists, but the Han Chinese bad guys in SPW like YBQ, ZLC, LPC etc. are just evil, with virtually no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
    Genghis Khan, Kangxi (does he really count as an antagonist?) and Qianlong were historical figures, and very respected ones at that. Jin Yong will be opening a can of worms had he chosen to take fictional liberties with such famous personages - even a minor historical figure like Yin Zhiping was belatedly accorded respect, much less those aforementioned three. When dealing with historical figures, Jin Yong had to ensure that his writing was in line with the general portraits of such characters - look at Bixuejian, for instance. Chongzhen, Abahai, Dorgon, Li Zicheng etc were all written according to what the historical, or at the very least legendary, records indicate.

    His own creations, however, were free of any historical baggage, and could be written to completely fulfill their role in their respective plots. Jin Yong was more than capable of writing more well-rounded villains (as we see in LOCH and DGSD) but it just so happens that those few you mentioned in SPW were just scum.

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    Senior Member PJ's Avatar
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    Something that made SPW different from all the rest of the Jin Yong canon.
    The title?

    ARTS.
    Quote Originally Posted by CC
    So what if 1000 arrows are targetted at our wuxia hero? LHC's missile breaking stance can deflect thousands of projectiles in 1 stance and send them back to the enemy. The more arrows the better!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy1 View Post
    According to the postcript that JY wrote, SPW is a political allegory about the Cultural Revolution.
    That is the exact opposite of what the postscript says. JY explicitly says that he did not intend to allegorise the Cultural Revolution, even though he admits he was influenced by the sheer dirtiness of the events while writing the novel. Instead, he was aiming for a more timeless and universal commentary on the nature of politic conflicts in general, divorced from any one specific instance. Whether he succeeded or not is a matter of opinion though...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Kwok View Post
    That is the exact opposite of what the postscript says. JY explicitly says that he did not intend to allegorise the Cultural Revolution, even though he admits he was influenced by the sheer dirtiness of the events while writing the novel. Instead, he was aiming for a more timeless and universal commentary on the nature of politic conflicts in general, divorced from any one specific instance. Whether he succeeded or not is a matter of opinion though...
    Yes, he did say that. But I'm not entirely convinced that SPW is just a generic representation of the vicious side of politics through the ages. As Ian had pointed out, JY is perfectly capable of creating nuanced antagonists, but ZBQ, ZLC etc. are just scum without any redeeming qualities. This must have been a deliberate choice.

    I think JY wanted to point out that the Han Chinese politicians who were responsible for the destructive policies of the Cultural Revolution were 1,000 times worse than foreign oppressors like the Manchus and Mongols. Obviously, this cannot be said openly then, or even now, without opening nasty cans of worms, thus the "timeless" and "universal" assertion in the postscript.

    JY wrote a political collumn on mainland politics during this time and received death threats for these writings. I'm not surprised if he uses the characters in his fiction to hit back at his persecutors.

    It's been awhile since I read DOMD, but there is a fascinating chapter at the beginning of the book about the persecution of scholars who dared to criticize the Qing. The criticism was done in a very oblique way --- but it was still found out by the authorities. It interesting to note that one of JY's ancestors was accused of a similar offense during the Qing Dynasty. I think JY is very aware of this legacy and was doing what his ancestor did through SPW and perhaps DOMD.

    Of course, only JY knows the real intention behind these stories. We can only speculate.

    Just my 2 cents (which might or might not be wrong).
    Last edited by sandy1; 04-06-12 at 11:20 PM.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    I always thought that HSDS might have been a parable for the 1911 Revolution, with Cheung Mo Gei in the role of Dr. Sun Yat Sen.

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    If ZWJ is Dr. S, then ZYZ must have been Yuan Shikai. Oh well, it's a universal phenomena in Chinese history!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy1 View Post
    I think JY wanted to point out that the Han Chinese politicians who were responsible for the destructive policies of the Cultural Revolution were 1,000 times worse than foreign oppressors like the Manchus and Mongols.
    This is completely BS.
    As bad as the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution were, they were not even 1% as destructive to the Hans as the Mongols and Manchus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trien Chieu View Post
    This is completely BS.
    As bad as the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution were, they were not even 1% as destructive to the Hans as the Mongols and Manchus.
    Couldn't disagree more. The Mongols and Manchus assimilated themselves into Chinese culture and society, whereas the Cultural Revolution saw the destruction and suppression of a lot of China's cultural heritage which it still hasn't recovered from. I would consider Communist China even to be something of a "foreign" takeover, because that government rejected so much of the Chinese cultural past, and it used a foreign ideology to do it.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy1 View Post
    If ZWJ is Dr. S, then ZYZ must have been Yuan Shikai. Oh well, it's a universal phenomena in Chinese history!
    I compare Cheung Mo Gei with Dr. Sun because they have a remarkable number of things in common:

    1. Both revolutionary leaders.

    2. Both medical doctors.

    3. Both spent many of their formative years in foreign lands.

    4. Both are known for their trouble with multiple women.

    5. Both were a bit too idealistic for their own good.

    6. Both were great inspirational leaders, but ultimately did not lead for very long before being replaced by ambitious warlords.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trien Chieu View Post
    This is completely BS.
    As bad as the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution were, they were not even 1% as destructive to the Hans as the Mongols and Manchus.
    "The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of excess deaths.[2] Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million[3] to at least 45 million,[4] with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million.[3] Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that "coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward" and it "motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

    Cultural Revolution:

    "Millions of people were persecuted in the violent factional struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including torture, rape, imprisonment, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during theDown to the Countryside Movement. Historical relics and artifacts were destroyed. Cultural and religious sites were ransacked.
    Mao officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, but its active phase lasted until the death of the military leader Lin Biao in 1971. The political instability between 1971 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 is now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution. After Mao's death in 1976, reformers led by Deng Xiaoping gained prominence. Most of the Maoist reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were abandoned by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution

    The irony is that all of this was done by Han Chinese politicians to their own people.

    Sorry about the small font. I don't know how to fix it.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandy1 View Post
    "The Great Leap ended in catastrophe, resulting in tens of millions of excess deaths.[2] Estimates of the death toll range from 18 million[3] to at least 45 million,[4] with estimates by demographic specialists ranging from 18 million to 32.5 million.[3] Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that "coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the very foundation of the Great Leap Forward" and it "motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

    Cultural Revolution:

    "Millions of people were persecuted in the violent factional struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including torture, rape, imprisonment, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during theDown to the Countryside Movement. Historical relics and artifacts were destroyed. Cultural and religious sites were ransacked.
    Mao officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, but its active phase lasted until the death of the military leader Lin Biao in 1971. The political instability between 1971 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 is now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution. After Mao's death in 1976, reformers led by Deng Xiaoping gained prominence. Most of the Maoist reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were abandoned by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution

    The irony is that all of this was done by Han Chinese politicians to their own people.

    Sorry about the small font. I don't know how to fix it.
    By way of supplement, this site offers some estimates of casualties caused by the Mongol invasion of China during the 13th Century.

    In both cases, large numbers of casualties.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    I compare Cheung Mo Gei with Dr. Sun because they have a remarkable number of things in common:

    1. Both revolutionary leaders.

    2. Both medical doctors.

    3. Both spent many of their formative years in foreign lands.

    4. Both are known for their trouble with multiple women.

    5. Both were a bit too idealistic for their own good.

    6. Both were great inspirational leaders, but ultimately did not lead for very long before being replaced by ambitious warlords.
    Hmm...I think you're on to something there, Ken.

    JY is deeply interested in Chinese politics and history so it makes perfect sense that he incorporates these into his fiction. It's possible to go too far with the political allegory angle, but I think it is totally plausible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    By way of supplement, this site offers some estimates of casualties caused by the Mongol invasion of China during the 13th Century.

    In both cases, large numbers of casualties.
    Thanks for the link, Ken. Very interesting. I haven't read Man's book on GK, but I've read Weatherford's. He's quite a GK apologist and doubted much of the casualty report, especially those that came from Muslim sources. He said that the Mongols themselves might have exxagerrated the casualty numbers for propaganda purposes. I don't know. The Mongols and Manchus were conquerors, and as such they're wont to kill a number of native people when they conquer a country, or to suppress rebellions once they're in power. But the Yuan and Qing dynasty were not remembered by the Chinese as particularly murderous dynasties (please correct me if I'm wrong).

    Regardless of the actual casualty number, the point that JY wanted to make is that the killings and persecutions during the Great leap and CR were done by HAN leaders against their own people. Therefore they are much worse than those foreign conquerors because they betray their own people.

    This is why YBQ is such a loathsome villain in SPW --- he was willing to betray and kill his own students and even family, who respected and trusted him as their leader/head of the family, for power.

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    I believe XAJH, XKX, and LCJ were all books that didn't have a specific historical context and were more centered on the wulin world.

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    Default A possible solution for the continuity problems between SPW and the rest of JY canon?

    THE SMILING PROUD WANDERER, despite being one of Jin Yong's most popular wuxia novels, has always been a sort of odd duck when trying to fit it with the other stories in the Jin Yong canon. On the one hand, SPW does feature allusions to martial arts techniques and organizations from other Jin Yong novels (e.g. Fa Gung Dai Fat, Yik Gun Ging, Dook Goo Kau Bai, etc.). On the other hand, what was written in SPW doesn't always fit comfortably with what Jin Yong wrote in the other stories.

    Sometimes, we have discussed the possibility that SPW takes place in an alternate universe apart from such novels as DGSD and THE CONDOR HEROES TRILOGY. I just read something in Jin Yong's Wikipedia entry, however, that might shed light on what's actually going on in SPW:

    From Wikipedia: "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."

    This statement is telling: if SPW is indeed allegorical in a way that the other novels are not, then perhaps SPW operates on a "loose" continuity with the other novels whereas the others work on a "tight" continuity with each other. In other words, while DGSD, LOCH, ROCH, HSDS, SSwRB, DOMD, B&S: G&R, and FFoSM must be consistent with each other in plot elements, SPW is allowed to drift in and out of it to tell its own story. In other words, SPW borrows from the main continuity when convenient for Jin Yong, but departs from it when not so. By comparison, the other novels must respect each other's canon much more strictly.

    How does that sound?

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