I thought with this new blog title perhaps it's time to restate my definition of this storytelling genre known as wuxia. So I'm re-posting my definition here and hopefully will have time later this week to drop in again when I'd like to talk about an interesting wuxia movie that will be out in April, "The Forbidden Kingdom."
Here's my definition:
Wuxia xiaoshuo – Heroic Fiction Literature
The wuxia genre is a traditional Chinese storytelling form defined by two basic elements: wu and xia. Wu pertains to all things martial such as weapons (especially the sword as a symbol of nobility and valor), fighting techniques, and martial culture. Xia is usually translated as “chivalric hero.” Xia refers to those men and women who acted in a subjective, heroic manner to right injustice. Their sense/code/ethic of chivalry involved the following values: altruism, justice/appropriateness, individual freedom, personal loyalty, honor & fame, generosity & contempt for wealth, and reciprocity.
This genre normally focuses on action (especially the action of the human form) and adventure and takes place in an imaginary world of these heroes known as the jiang-hu (literally, “rivers and lakes” also “cultural-imaginary world”) which has been defined as, “the self-contained and historically sanctioned world of martial arts.” It is a world that accepts the fantastic as normal at certain levels of skillful physical and mental attainment.
An important motif of this genre is a sense of nostalgia for a lost home in a mythical past that lacked any confusion about moral values – good and evil were simple and clear.
This genre can further be developed as a subgenre of historical fiction. When treated as such, it should, “polish the past into a mirror of the present.”