Reading wuxia in English
March 23, 2018 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend me wuxia fiction in English.

I'm looking for works that are as many as possible of: classic, gripping, understandable for someone with little grasp of historical Chinese culture (explanatory notes are OK) and available electronically.

posted by daisyk to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
In case it's not clear, I'm looking for Chinese fiction translated into English. If there happens to be amazing wuxia originally written in English, send it my way, I guess, but that's not my main focus.
posted by daisyk at 9:19 AM on March 23, 2018

Water Margin (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh) is one of the four classics of Chinese literature. There's a bunch of translations of it; here's the Shapiro translation which is I believe the one we read in college.

If you're looking for more modern writing, probably the most popular contemporary wuxia authors is Louis Cha (known also by his pen name Jin Yong). I can't find any digital editions of his work in English but you may have better luck. The Book and the Sword is one I can personally recommend if you can track it down.
posted by griphus at 9:34 AM on March 23, 2018

Oh, looks like there's a Kindle edition of Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain. I might actually pick this up myself.
posted by griphus at 9:43 AM on March 23, 2018

Seconding Water Margin! It's long, but don't let that scare you off because extremely readable and episodic, so you can pick it up and put it down at any time. Beware of putting it down for too long, though. There are a loooooooooooot of characters.

There's a scene I love within the first couple of chapters where an old military trainer (if memory serves me) has fled his home and is one the road in disguise. He comes to a random house to seek lodging, and the homeowner's son is practicing martial arts so the trainer watches him and tries to give him some friendly advice. The young man is offended and challenges him to spar, thinking he's just some old wanderer. He gets knocked flat on his butt in two seconds!

Lots of action, and the historical context isn't very dense, but you'll have a better time if you familiarize yourself with some of the political and domestic forces at play in China at the time.
posted by Krazor at 9:43 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Many of the Judge Dee mystery novels by Robert van Gulik have martial arts elements within a historical setting (Tang era). I believe that only Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is a translation from an original Chinese manuscript, with the rest creations by van Gulik (often inspired by other Chinese texts). They can be fun to read, although van Gulik's fascination with erotica might make them unsuitable for younger audiences. Not sure about e-version availability, but they're old and pretty cheap to buy used.
posted by El_Marto at 10:45 AM on March 23, 2018

Have you checked this out?
They're mostly translated by fans. Looks like it hasn't been updated in a few years and many links are dead...but they have some of the well known classics
posted by 7life at 12:14 PM on March 23, 2018

omg i have been looking for a good translation of Legends of the Condor Heroes for YEARS after struggling through some of it on that fan translation site. major classic by louis cha, mentioned by griphus above. had basically given up until i saw your question and it's JUST BEEN TRANSLATED AT LAST:
posted by ohkay at 1:36 PM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

i think i might have been too excited. i'm afraid that's just the first volume in a planned 12-volume set...
posted by ohkay at 1:49 PM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Deer and the Cauldron by Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha) has been translated by John Minford. It's a parody/satire of wuxia epics rather than a straight epic, but I enjoyed it.
posted by aussie_powerlifter at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2018

This awesome FPP by smoke might be helpful.
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:31 PM on March 23, 2018

Blue Silver Translations does an ongoing fan translation of Douluo Dalu, which is one of the biggest-deal serial wuxia novels on earth. It’s not especially good (though I dunno how much of that is the source material versus the translation), and it’s crazy long, but it’s an interesting read.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:19 PM on March 23, 2018

Thanks a lot, everyone! I’m really excited to get reading. :D
posted by daisyk at 3:57 PM on March 24, 2018

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