Which part of novel is the hardest to understand?

Hi, I'm a fan from China and I've read a lot of martial arts/Wuxia novels (written by Jin Yong and Gu Long) since very young. I got to know about Wuxiaworld from weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) and I was surprised that non-Chinese readers are big fans of Chinese martial novels!!! How could they understand those Chinese idioms and historical background?!?! However, after reading the translation works at this website, I was like "wow, they could be translated in this way!" I was really amazed and started reading I Shall Seal the Heavens in English (I haven't read the Chinese version before).

I asked my American friends about this website but they said that they know nothing about it :'). So I guess Chinese fantasy novel is still a very niche market in other countries, right? And I'm also curious about whether you have questions about the Chinese idioms and translation. (Hope I can help you :D ) And can you fully understand the novels or not? Is it related to the cultural background or mother tongue? And which part is the hardest part to understand for you guys? If you are just experts of these novels, you can comment as well! 

And one more question, have you ever read traditional martial arts/Wuxia novels? I like them the best!

Coco

Comments

  • I can understand mostly everything; Chinese culture & legends aren't taught in schools here, but they are promoted in movies, games and even some western books, thus characters like for example Sun Wukong are mostly known to everyone I know. That being said, I don't understand Chinese at all, I know only a few words, so when translators don't translate the names of sects and places I easily get confused. That's why novels like Desolate Era, Martial World, Emperor's Domination are easy and pleasant to read for me, whereas Heavenly Jewel Change easily makes me confused when empires' names aren't translated, etc.
  • Qoniu said:
    I can understand mostly everything; Chinese culture & legends aren't taught in schools here, but they are promoted in movies, games and even some western books, thus characters like for example Sun Wukong are mostly known to everyone I know. That being said, I don't understand Chinese at all, I know only a few words, so when translators don't translate the names of sects and places I easily get confused. That's why novels like Desolate Era, Martial World, Emperor's Domination are easy and pleasant to read for me, whereas Heavenly Jewel Change easily makes me confused when empires' names aren't translated, etc.

    I see...I figure the translators contributed a lot to our mutual understanding, they are really good translators! Actually traditional martial arts novels are more difficult to be translated into English because they are highly related to the historical facts and traditional Chinese conventions. For the Xianxia/Xuanhuan novels, their world views are more similar to western fantasy novels and easier to be accepted.
  • There's one thing I'm curious about. Some women are sometimes titled "Fairy" or "Fairy Maiden" in translated Xianxia, not just in narration, but in actual conversation, I'd love to learn about its etymology. Generally, Fairy or Fae has Gaelic undertone, so how does someone grounded in eastern culture see it? Does it refer to specific race of mythological entities, has divine undertone, connects to specific person, or is just general word to replace "ethereal"?
  • Valheran said:
    There's one thing I'm curious about. Some women are sometimes titled "Fairy" or "Fairy Maiden" in translated Xianxia, not just in narration, but in actual conversation, I'd love to learn about its etymology. Generally, Fairy or Fae has Gaelic undertone, so how does someone grounded in eastern culture see it? Does it refer to specific race of mythological entities, has divine undertone, connects to specific person, or is just general word to replace "ethereal"?
    Well, I guess the translated title "fairy" here could mean either "神Shen" or "仙Xian", which are very basic concepts from 山海经 Classic of Mountains and Seas or even earlier Chinese classic text of myth. Both of them are supernatural, but Shen is more like Gods who have created the world and bring winds and rains into being. The gods are born to be gods but the Xian or the immortals are born to be ordinary people and they cultivate themselves into immortals. And the concept "immortal" is more related to Daoism. It is said that the "immortal" is created by the early Daoists who claimed that people can be alive forever by 辟谷(refraining from eating grain) or 养气(inhalation of air).
    In the novels, the title "Fairy" could be seen as a status symbol or a title of respect which shows that the person is successfully cultivated. And in Chinese, it also indicates the hierarchy of the immortals, for example, 上仙Shangxian, are usually more superior than other immortals. Above are just my own understanding, hope that I have answered your question XD.
  • So it's closer to divine / goddesslike / ethereal, than elflike. Got it. Thanks.
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