Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: The REAL reason that no/few wuxia stories are set much earlier than the Sung Dynasty?

  1. #1
    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Posts
    22,521

    Default The REAL reason that no/few wuxia stories are set much earlier than the Sung Dynasty?

    The vast majority of popular wuxia stories are set no earlier than the Sung Dynasty. Most wuxia stories of note are set in the Sung, Yuan, Ming, or Qing eras. Years ago, fans at the Yushy Forum speculated that the reason for this is that the period of Chinese history prior to the Sung Dynasty is dominated by myths and legends of supernatural beings (such as the monkey god Sunwukong, etc.) and thus, even the most powerful human martial arts would look insignificant compared to the supernatural powers of gods and demons. Do you buy this as the main reason that very few wuxia stories are set before the Sung Dynasty, or are there better reasons?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Giang Ho, Canada
    Posts
    4,633

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Do you buy this as the main reason that very few wuxia stories are set before the Sung Dynasty, or are there better reasons?
    No, I don't. I don't see why wuxia story can't fit in Xia Dynasty (2100BC-1600BC), Shang Dynasty (1600BC-1046BC),...,Qing Dynasty (1644AD-1911AD). Perhaps it's not very appropriate for wuxia story setting toward the end of Qing Dynasty as there are guns and cannons. Anything during and before Qianlong Emperor era would be ok. However, it's easier to have stories set in Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty as there are more historical records and more established martial art schools exist during those time.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    306

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    The vast majority of popular wuxia stories are set no earlier than the Sung Dynasty. Most wuxia stories of note are set in the Sung, Yuan, Ming, or Qing eras. Years ago, fans at the Yushy Forum speculated that the reason for this is that the period of Chinese history prior to the Sung Dynasty is dominated by myths and legends of supernatural beings (such as the monkey god Sunwukong, etc.) and thus, even the most powerful human martial arts would look insignificant compared to the supernatural powers of gods and demons. Do you buy this as the main reason that very few wuxia stories are set before the Sung Dynasty, or are there better reasons?
    The perception that very few wuxia novels are written before that period largely exists because of Jin Yong. He and Gu Long were the preeminent wuxia novelists of their time, and Gu Long never cared about the history side of things. Jin Yong was more interested in talking about particular historical events than about historical settings in general, and the events he was interested in tended to be more modern.

    If you look beyond these authors, there's a decent number of novels that do talk about other time periods. Liang Yusheng wrote a number of novels set during the Tang dynasty, Huang Yi's most famous books are set during the Warring States period and the Sui/Tang dynasties, and so forth. There's nothing stopping anyone from using any older period to set wuxia novels in. In fact, I believe that setting stories in fictional worlds is starting to get popular nowadays.

  4. #4
    Senior Member whiteskwirl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Taiwan
    Posts
    449

    Default

    Most wuxia novels are not set in any specific period. In Taiwan this was because of fear of censorship or getting on the wrong side of the government, as martial law was in effect then (this told to me by wuxia author Qin Hong).

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Giang Ho, Canada
    Posts
    4,633

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by whiteskwirl View Post
    Most wuxia novels are not set in any specific period. In Taiwan this was because of fear of censorship or getting on the wrong side of the government, as martial law was in effect then (this told to me by wuxia author Qin Hong).
    Do you have anything new for THE RED DAWN ELIXIR?

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Giang Ho, Canada
    Posts
    4,633

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ToastedRossi View Post
    Gu Long never cared about the history side of things.
    Pretty much all Gulong's novels taking place during Ming Dynasty. There is no mention of the conflict between Han and Manchu and both Wudang and Emei sects always exist in pretty much the all stories.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Posts
    574

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Trien Chieu View Post
    Pretty much all Gulong's novels taking place during Ming Dynasty. There is no mention of the conflict between Han and Manchu and both Wudang and Emei sects always exist in pretty much the all stories.


    do Wudang and Emei sect in Gulong established in Ming Dynasty ?
    Last edited by a_tumiwa; 01-30-19 at 08:59 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    4,784

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ToastedRossi View Post
    ... Jin Yong was more interested in talking about particular historical events than about historical settings in general, and the events he was interested in tended to be more modern.
    I agree with this point. As there are lesser facts in early history, there could be more mistakes. Consequently, one is likely to question the likelihood of events. Moreover, one can relate more to recent incidents than old events - e.g. Qing dynasty than say Xia/Shang dynasties.

  9. #9
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Posts
    40

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ToastedRossi View Post
    The perception that very few wuxia novels are written before that period largely exists because of Jin Yong. He and Gu Long were the preeminent wuxia novelists of their time, and Gu Long never cared about the history side of things. Jin Yong was more interested in talking about particular historical events than about historical settings in general, and the events he was interested in tended to be more modern.

    If you look beyond these authors, there's a decent number of novels that do talk about other time periods. Liang Yusheng wrote a number of novels set during the Tang dynasty, Huang Yi's most famous books are set during the Warring States period and the Sui/Tang dynasties, and so forth. There's nothing stopping anyone from using any older period to set wuxia novels in. In fact, I believe that setting stories in fictional worlds is starting to get popular nowadays.
    Indeed, the question is better posed as why JY preferred the Song period and later. I think this is an interesting question, actually. We might start by hypothesizing that it has to do with difficulty. Chinese records are more obscure and less detailed before the Song. There are cultural records and archaeology, but they're not as extensive as during the Song and after. Further, China before the Song was more "alien" due to the time gap. The Song-Yuan-Ming-Qing form a continuum that is more or less recognizable in modern Chinese tradition - you could trace most modern customs to precedents from those periods. The Han and Tang were more different. Just to give an example, walls during the Han were built using rammed earth, not stone, and Buddhism was just being introduced, so there were almost no "monks" as we think of them, or detailed descriptions of martial arts like in later times. Thus, it would've been a lot more difficult to build a world of wuxia during that time, and required a lot more creativity.

    But we know JY is no stranger to coming up with his own arts, nor was he intimidated by the lack of records, since he wrote extensively about cultures like Dali, for which we have not much details. So this still doesn't answer the question. Here, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that JY's interests were bound by his perspective, in particular the fact that his early works were heavily influenced by themes of southern Chinese resistance and nationalism against "barbarians" like the Mongols, Jurchens, Khitans, etc. LOCH and ROCH were, after all, principally stories written from the perspective of the Southern Song, whose side we are asked to take. All the while, HSDS was a story written from the perspective of the Ming rebels, whose side we are once again asked to take. Since LOCH, ROCH, and HSDS represent JY's central trilogy, we can say that they represent one of JY's key thematic interests.

    Such a perspective cannot work for the Han and Tang dynasties, because at the time, the focal region of China was not southern China, but northern China. Further, both the Han and the Tang fell not because of foreign invasion, but due to civil war. There was, as such, no "Chinese nationalism" to rally behind, and no "southern Chinese perspective" to speak of. In fact, the Han and the Tang were periods during which the Chinese empire and culture aggressively expanded into southern China, so the only resistance narrative would be to take the perspective of southern aboriginal groups against the invading Chinese. But JY obviously does not want to write from the perspective of these groups, so he avoids these periods altogether.

    The one weakness of this argument, though, is that there is a period in early Chinese history that mirrors the dynamic described above for the Song, Yuan, and Ming: the Northern and Southern Dynasties. During this period, we have all the ingredients of the story JY liked to write:

    * Northern "barbarian" enemies: the Five Barbarians of the Xiongnu, Xianbei, Qiang, Jie, and Di, who later formed the Northern Dynasties of Northern Wei, Eastern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, and Northern Qi.
    * Southern Chinese underdogs: the Southern Dynasties of the Eastern Jin, Liu Song, Southern Qi, Liang, and Western Liang.
    * Extensive fighting, political intrigue, and divided loyalties.

    So why didn't JY write about this period? One reason could be that he simply thought it was too similar to his classic trilogy, and liked the Song period more. But another, perhaps more personal reason, is that though the Southern Dynasties held the same position vis-a-vis the Northern Dynasties, as the Song did the Jin and Yuan, they were ultimately still less intimate to JY because their capitals were generally set in southern Hubei or Nanjing. JY, it should be remembered, was a man of Haining, Zhejiang, and in his last work, the short story Sword of the Yue Maiden, he took the perspective of the Yue - the Warring States kingdom most associated with his home region. We should not, therefore, think that JY was without bias in his selection of perspectives to take, and to this end, it is entirely possible, even plausible, that he chose the Song and Ming dynasties because of their deep connections to Zhejiang.

    * The capital of the Southern Song was in Hangzhou for most of its existence.
    * The founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, traced his ancestry to the Jiangnan region.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    121

    Default

    Riverlake - I love your discourse. Thank you.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 0
    Last Post: 08-18-14, 02:19 PM
  2. Replies: 59
    Last Post: 03-04-12, 01:26 PM
  3. Replies: 72
    Last Post: 05-21-11, 12:41 PM
  4. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 09-19-10, 11:01 PM
  5. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-06-10, 02:48 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •