East China’s Zhejiang Province has become the latest focal point for literature enthusiasts and fans of martial arts novels. The reason? A special exhibition at the newly inaugurated Zhejiang Literary Center (ZLC) in Hangzhou, showcasing manuscripts of the renowned martial arts novel ‘Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils’ by the legendary Chinese writer Louis Cha.
While many know him by his pen name, Jin Yong, Louis Cha’s legacy in the world of literature is unparalleled. The exhibition serves as a heartfelt tribute, marking the 5th anniversary of Cha’s passing. An anthology dedicated to Jin Yong, published by a prominent Hong Kong press, was also introduced to the public during this event.
The displays offer a deep dive into Jin Yong’s life and his illustrious career, featuring a curated collection of rare manuscripts, books, and photographs. This is a prelude to the grand commemorative events planned for Jin’s centennial birth anniversary in 2024. Born in Haining, Zhejiang Province, in 1924, Jin Yong’s status as one of the most revered and widely-read martial arts novelists is uncontested.
Next March promises more festivities, with various activities scheduled at Jin’s former residence in Haining to mark his 100th birth anniversary. Xu Jing, an official with ZLC, emphasized the importance of the exhibition in shedding light on the author’s life, works, and his connection to Haining. Thanks to collaborative efforts, many photographs of the author, previously unseen by the public, have been unveiled, shared Xu Lingyi, an official associated with Haining’s publicity department.
To ensure visitors truly immerse themselves in Jin’s literary world, a dedicated reading space has been organized. Here, attendees can delve into or listen to Jin’s captivating tales. On display are several editions of Jin’s novels, ranging from the earliest versions serialized in newspapers and popular Chinese mainland editions to translations in English, French, and Japanese.
The exhibition is meticulously organized into four segments, reflecting upon Jin’s professional trajectory, his journey as a novelist, and the significant influence his work has had on popular culture. Jin Yong embarked on his literary journey in 1955, inspired by another martial arts novelist, Liang Yusheng. Over the next 17 years, he penned 15 classics, solidifying his reputation as the doyen of Chinese martial arts literature. His writings, while rooted in thrilling tales of kung fu masters and chivalry, intricately weave character dynamics against the backdrop of significant historical occurrences.
Jin’s novels have resonated with readers globally, selling a staggering 300 million copies and being translated into numerous languages, including English, French, Korean, and Japanese.
The ZLC, home to the Jin Yong exhibition, boasts nine exhibition halls, making it the second-largest literature museum in China, next only to the National Museum of Modern Chinese Literature located in Beijing.