A Chinese classic gets first English translation as ‘A Hero Born’
AFP Relaxnews / 09:27 PM February 15, 2018
A longtime best-selling Chinese book series that earns comparisons to “Lord of the Rings” for its epic scope and loyal readership is about to be published in English for the first time, and its United Kingdom publisher is hoping to replicate the novels’ home-country success.
First written in the 1950s, the fantasy series, which is translated into English as “Legends of the Condor Heroes” was written by Jin Yong (real name Louis Cha), a Hong Kong-based newspaper editor who began publishing his stories of martial arts heroes as a newspaper serial.
The resulting book series has spawned a massive entertainment franchise, its books selling more than 300 million copies and inspiring films, TV adaptations, comics and video games.
Set in China in 1200 AD, the series’ first novel, whose English title is “A Hero Born”, centers on Guo Jing, the son of a murdered patriot of the Song Empire, which has just been invaded from the north by its Jurchen neighbors and now has half of its territory in enemy hands. Meanwhile, on the Mongolian steppes, Genghis Khan is poised to united a disparate nation of warriors.
The humble, loyal and “perhaps not altogether wise” Guo Jing, who grew up with Genghis Khan’s army, must now return to China to fulfil his destiny: to confront an opponent who is his polar opposite — “privileged, cunning and perfectly trained in the martial arts.”
“But,” concludes the publisher’s description, “in a land riven by war and betrayal, his courage and his loyalties will be tested at every turn.”
Giving a sense of the importance the series has in its home country, Chinese writer Yan Lianke says, “Jin Yong’s oeuvre has been passed down in the East from generation to generation and thus nurtures people of all ages. For adults, they are fairy tales, while for children, they are mythologies.”
MacLehose Press is set to publish “A Hero Born”, translated into English by Anna Holmwood, on Feb. 22. It will be the first of what will ultimately grow to 12 books in all; a second, titled “A Bond Undone”, is due out a year later. JB