Essay 1

1243 words - 5 pages

In China, the genre of “wuxia”, or martial arts fiction, fills a similar niche to that occupied by the Western genre in the United States. Instead of gunslingers in the 1800s, however, wuxia focuses on martial artists in ancient and medieval China. Bound by a special code of honour, wuxia fighters must usually resolve disputes through direct combat, which often leads to dramatic physical confrontations between characters that defy the laws of physics.
Pre-eminent among wuxia fiction is a Chinese-language novel titled Divine Condor, Gallant Knight (Shen Diao Xia Lu), the second in the famous “Condor Trilogy” by Jin Yong. First published as a Chinese-language serial in 1959, Divine Condor, Gallant Knight focuses on a young man named Yang Guo and the heroic deeds he performs while in search of his beloved Xiao Longnu (whose name literally translates as “dragon lady”). Unlike Guo Jing, the steadfast, by-the-book hero of the first novel, The Legend of the Condor Hero (She Diao Ying Xiong Chuan), Yang Guo is more cunning, less restrained, and completely unpredictable. His behaviour is not indicative of a lack of values, but rather suggests an unconventional moral code moulded by a frustration with orthodox society. At the beginning of the novel, his attitude and lack of martial arts training cause him to get pushed around frequently by members of the mainstream but are of no concern to a few eccentrics with whom he forms deep and lasting relationships. While his experiences cause him to think of himself as an underdog, they also make him self-reliant, principled, and extremely loyal. Yang Guo sees himself in contrast to rather than in service of orthodoxy and convention, and his independent mindset provides the ideal backdrop for his growth from a helpless boy to a world-renowned hero.
Before he comes to study with Xiao Longnu at the Ancient Tomb sect, Yang Guo runs a stint as a disciple of the Quanzhen Taoist school of martial arts. At Quanzhen, an establishment often called the “orthodox” school of martial arts, the elders decide to make Yang Guo the disciple of a man named Zhao Zhijing. Ideally, Zhao Zhijing should provide Yang Guo with training and guidance, and in return, Yang Guo should follow Zhao Zhijing’s every order in reverence of this sacred bond. Neither goal is met. Zhao Zhijing intentionally reneges on his agreement to teach Yang Guo kung fu; instead, he has the boy memorize the Quanzhen theories of martial arts without applying them physically. This, coupled with Zhao Zhijing’s tendency to use force when angry, causes Yang Guo to harbour deep resentment for his master. Without the standard fighting education received by the other children, Yang Guo is beaten and humiliated at his first tournament. He tries to run, but Zhao Zhijing catches and beats him aggressively. Yang Guo is eventually rescued by a member of the Ancient Tomb sect and, after a fatal skirmish between that member and the Quanzhen Taoists, is finally placed under the...

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