Louis Cha Leung-yung, GBM, OBE (born February 6 1924), better known by his pen name Jin Yong, is a Chinese novelist and essayist who co-founded the Hong Kong daily newspaper Ming Pao in 1959 and served as the newspaper's first editor-in-chief.
His fictional novels of the wuxia ("martial arts and chivalry") genre, have a widespread following in many Chinese-speaking areas, including Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the United States. His 15 works written between 1955 and 1972 earned him a reputation as one of the greatest and most popular wuxia writers ever. He is currently the best-selling Chinese author alive, and over 100 million copies of his works have been sold worldwide (not including an unknown number of pirated copies).
His works have been translated into many languages including English, French, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, Malay and Indonesian. He has many fans outside of Chinese-speaking areas, as a result of the numerous adaptations of his works into films, television series, comics and video games.
|The Honourable Dr.
Cha in July 2007
6 February 1924 |
Haining, Jiaxing, Zhejiang, China
|Pen name||Jin Yong|
|Alma mater||Soochow University
University of Cambridge
|Children||two sons and two daughters (three living)|
|Caa4 Loeng4 Jung4|
|Chàh Lèuhng Yùhng|
|Zha Liangyong (birth name)|
|Jin Yong (pen name)|
|Pen name is created by splitting last character of given name|
Cha was born in Haining City, Zhejiang Province in Republican China as the second of six children from the scholarly Zha family of Haining (海寧查氏). His ancestral home, however, was in Wuyuan County, Shangrao City, Jiangxi Province. He is purportedly a descendant of Zha Jizuo (1601–1676), a scholar who lived in the late Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty. His grandfather, Zha Wenqing (查文清), obtained the position of a tong jinshi chushen (third class graduate) in the imperial examination during the Qing dynasty. His father, Zha Shuqing (查樞卿), was accused of being a counterrevolutionary, and was arrested and executed by the Communist government during the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries in the early 1950s.
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 criticising the Nationalist government as autocratic. He studied at Hangzhou High School in 1937 but was expelled in 1941. He studied in Jiaxing No. 1 High School and later was admitted to the Faculty of Foreign Languages of the Central School of Political Affairs in Chongqing Municipality. Cha later dropped out of the school. He took the entrance exam and gained admission to the Faculty of Law at Soochow University, where he majored in international law with the intention of pursuing a career in the foreign service.
When Cha was transferred to Hsin Wan Pao (of British Hong Kong) as Deputy Editor, he met Chen Wentong, who wrote his first wuxia novel under the pseudonym "Liang Yusheng" in 1953. Chen and Cha became good friends and it was under the former's influence that Cha began work on his first serialised martial arts novel, The Book and the Sword, in 1955. In 1957, while still working on wuxia serialisations, he quit his previous job and worked as a scenarist-director and scriptwriter at Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd and Phoenix Film Company.
In 1959, Cha co-founded the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao with his high school classmate Shen Baoxin (沈寶新). Cha served as its editor-in-chief for years, writing both serialised novels and editorials, amounting to some 10,000 Chinese characters per day. His novels also earned him a large readership. Cha completed his last wuxia novel in 1972, after which he officially retired from writing novels, 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 taiji classic Wu Jia Taijiquan, where he described influences from as far back as Laozi and Zhuangzi on contemporary Chinese martial arts.
By then, Cha's wuxia novels had gained great popularity in Chinese-speaking areas. All of his novels have since been adapted into films, TV shows and radio dramas in Hong Kong, Taiwan and 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 the late 1970s, Cha was involved in Hong Kong politics. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law drafting committee, however after the Tiananmen Square incident 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.
In 1993, Cha prepared for retirement from editorial work and sold all his shares in Ming Pao.
Cha has three brothers and two sisters. He is the second oldest among them. His brothers are Zha Liangjian (查良鏗; 1916–1988), Zha Lianghao (查良浩; b. 1934) and Zha Liangyu (查良鈺; b. 1936). His sisters are Zha Liangxiu (查良琇; b. 1926) and Zha Liangxuan (查良璇; b. 1928).
Cha married three times in his life. His first wife was Du Zhifen (杜治芬), whom he married in 1948 but divorced later. In 1953, he married his second wife, Zhu Mei (朱玫), a newspaper journalist. They have two sons and two daughters: Zha Chuanxia (查傳俠), Zha Chuanti (查傳倜), Zha Chuanshi (查傳詩) and Zha Chuanne (查傳訥). Cha divorced Zhu in 1976 and married his third wife, Lin Leyi (林樂怡; b. 1953), who is 29 years younger than him. In 1976, his son Zha Chuanxia, then 19 years old, hanged himself after a quarrel with his girlfriend while studying at Columbia University.
Cha has many notable relatives from both the paternal and maternal sides of his family.
On his paternal side, Cha's cousins include Cha Liang-chao (1897–1982), a famous educator and philanthropist, and Cha Liang-chien (查良鑑; 1904–1994), the Minister of Justice of Taiwan from 1967 to 1970. Distant paternal relatives of Cha include the Hong Kong entrepreneur Cha Chi-ming (1914–2007), the poet Zha Liangzheng (查良錚; 1918–1977), and the xiangsheng actor Zha Liangxie (查良燮; d. 2003). Zha Jiawen (查家雯) from the Taiwanese girl-band Cherry Boom is a paternal grand-niece of Cha. Cha is also distantly related to the Taiwanese romance novelist Chiung Yao (b. 1938); one of Cha's paternal cousins was a maternal aunt of Chiung Yao.
On the maternal side, Cha's cousins include the poet Xu Zhimo (1897–1931) and Jiang Fucong (1898–1990), the first director of Taiwan's National Central Library. Cha is also distantly related to the military strategist Jiang Baili (1882–1938) through a distant aunt, Zha Pinzhen (查品珍), who was Jiang's first wife. Jiang Baili's third daughter, the musician Jiang Ying (1919–2012), was regarded as a maternal cousin by Cha.
In addition to his wuxia novels, Cha has also written many non-fiction works on Chinese history. For his achievements, he has received many honours.
Cha was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the British government in 1981. He was awarded a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (1992) and a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2004) by the French government.
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. Cha is an honorary doctor at National Chengchi University, 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 a 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. In July 2010, Cha earned his Doctor of Philosophy in oriental studies (Chinese history) at St John's College, Cambridge with a thesis on imperial succession in the early Tang dynasty. 
Cha wrote a total of 15 fictional works, 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. The novels are:
|English title||Chinese title[T 1]||Date of first publication||First published publication||Character count|
|The Book and the Sword||書劍恩仇錄||8 February 1955 – 5 September 1956||New Evening Post||513,000|
|Sword Stained with Royal Blood||碧血劍||1 January 1956 – 31 December 1956||Hong Kong Commercial Daily||488,000|
|The Legend of the Condor Heroes||射鵰英雄傳||1 January 1957 – 19 May 1959||Hong Kong Commercial Daily||918,000|
|Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain||雪山飛狐||9 February 1959 – 18 June 1959||New Evening Post||130,000|
|The Return of the Condor Heroes||神鵰俠侶||20 May 1959 – 5 July 1961||Ming Pao||979,000|
|The Young Flying Fox||飛狐外傳||11 January 1960 – 6 April 1962||Wuxia and History (武俠與歷史)||439,000|
|White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind||白馬嘯西風||16 October 1961 – 10 January 1962||Ming Pao||67,000|
|Blade-dance of the Two Lovers||鴛鴦刀||1 May 1961 – 31 May 1961||Ming Pao||34,000|
|The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber||倚天屠龍記||6 July 1961 – 2 September 1963||Ming Pao||956,000|
|A Deadly Secret||連城訣||12 January 1964 – 28 February 1965||Southeast Asia Weekly (東南亞周刊)||229,000|
|Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils||天龍八部||3 September 1963 – 27 May 1966||Ming Pao and Nanyang Siang Pau||1,211,000|
|Ode to Gallantry||俠客行||11 June 1966 – 19 April 1967||Ming Pao||364,000|
|The Smiling, Proud Wanderer||笑傲江湖||20 April 1967 – 12 October 1969||Ming Pao||979,000|
|The Deer and the Cauldron||鹿鼎記||24 October 1969 – 23 September 1972||Ming Pao||1,230,000|
|Sword of the Yue Maiden||越女劍||1 January 1970 – 31 January 1970||Ming Pao evening supplement||16,000|
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 and should be read in that order; a number of his other works are also linked to this trilogy (Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils is a precursor to the Condor Trilogy). Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain and The Young Flying Fox are companion works with the same protagonist and characters from The Book and the Sword appear. 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 works, 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:
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 create the couplet. The couplet serves primarily as a handy mnemonic to remember all of Cha's works for his fans.
Most of Cha's works were initially published in instalments in Hong Kong newspapers, most often in Ming Pao. The Return of the Condor Heroes was his first novel serialised in Ming Pao, launched on 20 May 1959. Between 1970 and 1980, Cha revised all of his works. The revised works of his stories are known as the "New Edition" (新版), also known as "Revised Edition" (修訂版), in contrast with the "Old Edition" (舊版), which refers to the original, serialised versions. Some characters and events were written out completely, most notably mystical elements and 'unnecessary' characters, such as the "Blood Red Bird" (小紅鳥) and "Qin Nanqin" (秦南琴), 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 China, the Wulin (武林) magazine in Guangzhou was the first to officially publish Cha's works, starting from 1980. Cha's complete collection in Simplified Chinese was published by Beijing's SDX Joint Publishing in 1994. Meanwhile, Mingheshe Singapore-Malaysia (明河社星马分公司) published his 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 in which he wrote them. This revision was completed in spring 2006, with the publication of the last novel, The Deer and the Cauldron. The newer revised edition, known variably as the "New Century Edition" (世紀新修版), "New Revised Edition" (新修版) and "New New Edition" (新新版), is noted for its annotations where Cha answers previous criticisms directed at the historical accuracy of his works. In the newer revision, certain characters' personae were changed, such as Wang Yuyan, and many martial art skills and places have their names changed. This edition faced a number of criticisms from Cha's fans, some of whom prefer the older storyline and names. The older 1970–80 "New Edition" (新版) is no longer issued by Cha's publisher Mingheshe (明河社).
Chinese nationalism or patriotism is a strong theme in Cha's works. In most of his works, Cha places emphasis on the idea of self-determination and identity, and many of his novels are set in time periods when China was occupied or under the threat of occupation by non-Han Chinese peoples such as the Khitans, Jurchens, Mongols and Manchus. However, Cha gradually evolved his Chinese nationalism into an inclusionist concept which encompasses all present-day non-Han Chinese 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-led Song dynasty.
Cha's references range from traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, 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 are real.
His works show a great amount of respect and approval for traditional Chinese values, especially Confucian ideals such as the proper relationship between ruler and subject, parent and child, elder sibling and younger sibling, and (particularly strongly, due to the wuxia nature of his novels), between master and apprentice, and among fellow apprentices. 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 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 an antihero who is greedy, lazy, and utterly disdainful of traditional rules of propriety. In his 14 other works, 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 are an 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 antihero 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 urchin and a womanising weasel, with no admirable qualities whatsoever. The fiction writer Ni Kuang wrote a connected 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 analysing his fictional world of martial arts; among the most famous are those by Cha's close friend and science fiction novelist, Ni Kuang. Ni is a fan of Cha, and has written a series of criticisms analysing the various personalities and aspects of his books called I Read Jin Yong's Novels (我看金庸小說).
Despite Cha's popularity, some of his novels were banned outside of 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 are currently in force, and Cha's complete collection has been published multiple times in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. 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.
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 Monastery and the Quanzhen School, do 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 portrayal 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 are the exception, used specifically as a fictional lead into the next era after the Yuan dynasty into the Ming dynasty.
|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||White Horse Neighs in the Western Wind
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
The Young 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 Yuan dynasty) appear prominently, and because the Manchus are not mentioned. In The Deer and the Cauldron, the main character is also mentioned to be from a period before the Qing dynasty. 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 Manchu conquest of China.
2 The time frame of Ode to Gallantry is also unspecified. The sources that would put the story in the Ming dynasty are that the mention of Zhang Sanfeng being already dead and the illustrations depict men sporting traditional Han Chinese hairstyles.
3 The time frame of A Deadly Secret was ambiguous in its first and second editions. The novel's illustrations (which are authorised by Cha) that depict men wearing the Manchu queue supports the idea that it occurred during the Qing Dynasty. 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 the Qing dynasty.
English books currently available include:
Other works available in English include:
There are over 90 films and TV shows adapted from Cha's wuxia novels, including King Hu's The Swordsman (1990) and its sequel Swordsman II (1992), Wong Jing's 1992 films Royal Tramp and Royal Tramp II, and Wong Kar-wai's Ashes of Time (1994). Dozens of role-playing video games are based on Cha's novels, a notable example of which is Heroes of Jin Yong, which was based on the major characters and events in Cha's novels.
George Lucas's Star Wars universe is often believed to be heavily inspired by Cha's works, as the plot elements and characters are near identical with those in Cha's novel Return of the Condor Heroes. Many Chinese fans have also argued that the concept of The Force is derived from the internal energy as portrayed in Cha's works.
|Order of precedence|
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
|Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal