Although many of us in the West know big names like Tolkien or Rowling, there are so many authors from other parts of the world who have touched the hearts of many fans over the years. And now, sadly, we have just lost one of the most beloved and influential of them.
Image via Alchetron
Louis Cha died at the age of ninety-four this past Tuesday. More commonly known by his pen name, Jin Yong, the author has been celebrated for years throughout China as well as many other Asian countries for his distinctive writing legacy. Cha’s work has been compared many times to revered western fantasy and fiction writers such as George R. R. Martin and Tolkien, but his works have evolved into his own sub-genre of martial arts mixed in with dramatic fantasy.
Cha rose to fame and prominence during his time in Hong Kong. It would be here that the then editor would turn writer, and he soon wrote his possibly most famous works such as The Legend of the Condor Heroes. However, it would also be during this time that China was changing and going through a period known as the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Louis Cha, known by the pen name Jin Yong, has been one of China’s most successful writers since he began publishing his historical fantasy novels, which also have significant political meaning. https://t.co/Ek2TJcPoSe
— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) April 13, 2018
This meant that, although Louis Cha’s books were still being written and sold to places like Taiwan and Singapore, many works of his and a plethora of many other authors were inaccessible; the ruler, Mao Zedong made it clear that martial arts among other topics were “spiritual pollution” so many potential readers at the time were discouraged to be delving into unaccepted materials.
It would be after the rule of Mao that Cha’s writing would spread like wildfire. The next ruler of China, Deng Xiaoping, ended up being a fan of Cha’s writings; the ban of certain books also lifted, and many Chinese readers began to return to the fantasy stories of Cha and other authors. However, Louis Cha would retain much of his popularity until his death. Many fans came out to honor this monumental author:
While literary reputations rise and fall, it would be hard to argue that there has been a more widely-read and more influential writer in Chinese in the modern era than the great martial arts novelist and newspaper publisher Jin Yong 金庸 (1924-2018), who passed away today in HK. pic.twitter.com/3zFNzmlMH6
— eileen chengyin chow (@chowleen) October 30, 2018
For our more Western oriented readers, Cha’s writing legacy is painted with fantastic fantasies not unlike Game of Thrones. However, the author’s worlds most often include a heavy emphasis on the martial arts and combat. More notable though, is Cha’s representation of women for his time. Many female characters in his stories are much stronger and braver than their male counterparts, and almost always stay as far away from the cliche “damsel in distress” as possible.
The characters in his books are predominantly human, which reflects Cha’s feelings of humanity and our inevitable conflicts with each other. These stories are filled to the brim with emotional tension and political persecution, themes that are loved by fans in the genre. For as old as they are now, people still come back to Cha’s stories, just because of the complete perfection and immersion his tales offer.
Image via NewsX.tv
Sadly, the cause of death for this literary legend has yet to be released or discovered. Cha also was apparently unable to give any last words before his death; a fact that while sad reflects the authors deteriorating health since the late 90s when he suffered from a stroke. For now though, fans from every corner of the world have spoken out about the lifelong impact this author made on them.
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