The Jianghu, The Writer, & The Globalization of Storytelling, part 3
Switching to the fiction writer’s point of view, jianghu is a place where the reader can just as easily run into the likes of Aragon, Robin Hood, Shane, Rick Blaine, Sam Spade, Batman, V, Rick Decker, Neo, and Luke Skywalker. As heroes, they are all xia fighting in their own local jianghu be that Middle Earth, Sherwood Forest, the Wild West,
As a fantasy writer, as a wuxia novelist, my jianghu is located in 7-8th centuries China and my xia are poets, monks, court officials, shamans and shamanesses, swordsmen and women, and all those who populated that distant time and place, that distant jianghu, and sought justice.
But how does this help define the term? Jianghu, from this fantasy writer’s perspective, can be defined in one word: imagination.
As Ursula K. Le Guin wrote (http://www.ursulakleguin.com/PlausibilityRevisited.html) :
Fantasy is an exercise of what may be our most divine and certainly is our most human capacity, the imagination.
Jianghu is the imagination in its quest for a just world, a world where all the injustices – be that in ancient
And isn’t interesting that with this definition we come almost full circle to the Han shu or 2nd century A.D. Chinese use of the term as meaning “the world.”
There’s more when we look at Chinese cinema's attitude toward the jianghu, but in the meantime, what do you think?