Hong Kong -- jin yong, one of the literary giants of the chinese-speaking world, died in Hong Kong last Tuesday at the age of 94. Generations of Chinese have read his fantastical historical novels, which have been adapted into countless films, TV series and video games.
His death at the Hong Kong sanatorium and hospital was confirmed by Ming pao, a prominent Hong Kong newspaper co-founded by Louis cha and run for decades. The cause was organ failure, said Chip Tsao, a writer and friend of cha's.
Jin yong is the pen name of Louis cha, one of the most widely read Chinese writers of the 20th century. His fictional world, with its panoramic breadth and depth, has been compared to J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the rings," and the study of his novels is known as "goldology."
Cha began writing novels in the mid-1950s as a film critic and editor for Hong Kong's new evening news. Hong Kong was then a crown colony of the British government. He moved to Hong Kong in 1948 and spent most of his life there.
From 1955 to 1972, cha wrote 14 novels, novellas and one short wuxia novel. Wuxia is a popular genre of fiction that focuses on exaggerated kung fu adventures.
His first wuxia novel, book and sword, was inspired by a legend that the manchu emperor qianlong was actually a han Chinese who had been swapped at birth. The novel was serialized in the new evening post and became an instant hit.
He started writing when the Chinese communist party banned martial arts literature, calling it "decadent" and "feudal." The ban also reflects an ancient view of the Chinese literary tradition: that wuxia is an unfashionable genre.
But among Hong Kong and other Chinese diaspora, cha's novels sparked a new wave of martial arts fiction in the 1950s and 1960s.
By blending poetry, history and fantasy, jin yong elevates this already fairly routine genre of fiction, creating hundreds of vivid characters who travel through a world that operates according to its own laws and ethics but reflects reality.
In these tales of love, chivalry, friendship and filial piety, many of his characters are imperfect and have complex emotional histories that only make them more appealing.
It's easy to write about heroes, cha said in a 2012 interview. "But as you get older... Behind this great hero, there is a base side to him, a dark side to him."
Published in many languages, his books have sold tens of millions of copies and spawned numerous adaptations of movies, TV shows and video games.
Jin yong used wuxia novels as the carrier to talk about Chinese history and traditional culture, and borrowed a lot of classical expressions to forge a fictional colloquial language. His stories often take place at critical moments in Chinese history, such as the change of dynasties. Stories often mention Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and place martial arts alongside traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and calligraphy as part of Chinese culture.
Jin yong has picked up an "unfashionable, even disreputable, form of popular fiction that has become both a vehicle for serious literary expression and an appeal to Chinese readers around the world," John Christopher Hamm, an associate professor of Asian languages and literature at the university of Washington, said in a telephone interview.
华盛顿大学亚洲语言文学副教授韩倚松(John Christopher Hamm)在接受电话采访时说，金庸拾起了一种“不入流的，甚至名声不好的通俗小说形式，使其既成为严肃文学表达的载体，又吸引了全球华人读者”。
After the success of his early novels, jin yong founded his own newspaper, Ming pao, in Hong Kong in 1959. Soon he was serializing his novels and writing daily editorials on the horrors of MAO zedong's China.
The theme was familiar to him: his father had been branded a "class enemy" and executed by the communists in 1951.
When China began its economic and political opening up in 1981, cha traveled to Beijing to meet MAO's successor, deng xiaoping. Deng xiaoping admits to being a loyal reader of jin yong's novels.
Soon after, mainland China lifted the ban on jin yong's novels. This comes at a time when many young Chinese are eager to read something different from the familiar mao-era socialist propaganda.
Reading his novels opened our eyes, liu jianmei, a professor of contemporary Chinese literature at the Hong Kong university of science and technology, said in a telephone interview. "His way of thinking was so different from the way it was cultivated in mainland China at the time. He helps us think out of right and wrong, good and bad."
In 1985, cha was appointed to the political committee responsible for drafting Hong Kong's basic law. The mini-constitution will govern the semi-autonomous city after the end of British colonial rule and the handover of sovereignty to Hong Kong. He has drawn criticism for backing a conservative proposal not to elect Hong Kong's leader by universal suffrage.
Cha's initial optimism about China's political openness was shattered in 1989 when the Chinese government brutally crushed the student democracy movement in tiananmen square.
He resigned from the basic law drafting committee in protest. "Students' peaceful petitions should never be suppressed by soldiers," he said in a tearful interview.
Louis cha was born on March 10, 1924 in haining, zhejiang province, the second of seven children. His father, zha shuqing, was an educated landowner. His mother, xu lu, came from a wealthy merchant family.
Jin yong graduated from soochow university law school in 1948. Since then, he has worked as a reporter and translator for ta kung pao in Shanghai. In 1948, he moved with the newspaper to Hong Kong, which would become his home for the next 70 years.
He stopped writing novels in 1972. He resigned as chairman of Ming pao enterprises in 1993.
Cha is survived by his third wife, Lin leyi, and by his children from his second marriage, a son, cha chuan-ti, and two daughters, cha chuan-shi and cha chuan-ne.
This year, "legend of the condor heroes," the first in cha's popular trilogy, was translated into English by Anna Holmwood.
Jin yong's original Chinese novels are read by prominent fans. Alibaba group chairman jack ma, for one, has used characters from jin yong's novels as nicknames for his employees.