Written by Louis Cha
Translated by Graham Earnshaw
My translation of the Louis Cha Chinese kung fu novel The Book and the Sword was published by Oxford University Press. Here is some background:
Louis Cha is the biggest-selling author by far in the world of Chinese novels. During the 1960s and 1970s, he wrote a series of kung-fu epics which transcend anything attempted before in Chinese literature, and they are still monster sellers. They find favour with all levels of society from the university professors who savour his command of the Chinese language, to kids who just love the fight scenes.
They have since been re-published in a number of Asian languages, including Japanese and Vietnamese, and published, in many pirated and official Chinese versions, in Taiwan and on the Chinese mainland. They have all been filmed several times for television and on the cinema, and many of the characters Cha created have become a part of life for Chinese people, in much the way that Dickens’ Oliver Twist was a part of the lives of Victorian readers.
The Book and Sword was the first novel Cha wrote. The story has a panoramic sweep which takes as its base a few unbeatable themes – secret societies, king fu masters, the sensational rumour so dear to Chinese hearts that the great Manchu emperor Qian Long was in fact a Chinese and not Manchu. It mixes in the exotic flavours of central Asia, a lost city in the desert guarded by wolf packs and the Fragrant Princess. This lady is an embellishment of an historical figure, although whether she actually smelled of flowers, we will never know.
I hope you enjoy the translation. I was as faithful to the spirit of the original as I could be, but took the view that it was necessary to simplify some elements of the story and the writing in order to make it more acceptable to an English-reading audience. Mr Cha agreed with my approach. As a result, there are some differences between the original and my translation, but they are differences only of omission. In other words, I have added nothing.
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