The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
Afterword (Second Edition)
Translation by Jenxi Seow.
The vast majority of wise, talented individuals and strong, courageous people are proactive.
Common moral standards usually classify them into two categories: those who strive for the benefit of the majority, including the nation and society, are considered good people, while those who only focus on their own power, status, and material desires, harming others in the process, are considered bad people.
How good or bad they are depends on the number of people they affect, and the extent of the harm or benefit caused. In politics, bad people are the ones in power most of the time, thus there are always people who want to replace them, and those who seek reforms. Then, there are those who see no hope in reforms and prefer not to be associated with the ruling faction’s corruption. The last group chooses to withdraw from the turbulent struggle and maintain their integrity.
Thus, there have always been those in power, the rebels, the reformers, and the recluses.
Traditional Chinese values encourage people to “learn and become distinguished in public service,”1学而优则仕 – xué ér yōu zé shì. This phrase encapsulates the Confucian ideal that education and cultivation of virtue should lead to serving the public or engaging in public office. and emulate Confucius2孔子 – kóngzǐ. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period who is considered the paragon of Chinese sages. See Wikipedia. in “knowing it is impossible, and yet do it anyway.”3知其不可而为之 – zhī qí bù kě ér wèi zhī. This reflects the perseverance and moral conviction to strive for what is right, despite the odds. However, recluses are also held in high regard for being virtuous. Recluses may not make active contributions to society, but their behaviour is distinctly different from power-hungry individuals, setting an alternative example.
Chinese moral standards is rather lenient. As long as one does not harm others, they are considered good people. The Analects4论语 – Lúnyǔ. Analects is a collection of sayings and ideas attributed to the Chinese philosopher Confucius and his contemporaries, compiled into a book by Confucius’ followers. It is one of the central texts of Confucianism. See Wikipedia. records many recluses, such as Chenmen5晨门 – Chén Mén. A figure mentioned in the Analects, often associated with a hermitic or reclusive lifestyle. Specific historical details or philosophical contributions are not widely recorded, reflecting the elusive nature of many such figures in ancient Chinese texts., Chu Kuang Jie Yu6楚狂接舆 – Chǔkuáng Jiē Yú. Literally Jie Yu the Madman of Chu. He did not conform to the societal norms of his time. He is celebrated for his disregard for social conventions and his critique of governmental corruption and hypocrisy., Chang Ju7长沮 – Cháng Jǔ. Mentioned alongside Jie Ni as one of the recluses that Confucius encountered. Their conversations with Confucius often highlight themes of governance, virtue, and the role of the superior man in society., Jie Ni8桀溺 – Jiè Nì. Another recluse mentioned in the Analects, known for his discussions with Confucius. The dialogues involving Ji Ni often explore the importance of virtue and the individual’s relationship with society., Hediao Zhangren9荷蓧丈人 – Hédiǎo zhàngrén. Literally the revered old gentleman with a lotus rake. Zhangren is a respectful reference to an elderly man who is wise and experienced. An archetype representing those who choose to live in harmony with nature, focusing on simplicity and personal integrity over societal ambitions or material success., Bo Yi10伯夷 – Bó Yí. Renowned for his adherence to high moral standards and integrity, Bo Yi chose starvation over compromising his principles by refusing to serve corrupt rulers. He is often cited as an exemplar of moral steadfastness., Shu Qi11叔齐 – Shú Qí. Brother of Bo Yi, equally celebrated for his moral integrity and principled stance against serving under unjust leadership. Shu Qi’s story is often intertwined with that of Bo Yi, showcasing their collective commitment to virtue., Yu Zhong12虞仲 – Yú Zhòng. Less is known about Yu Zhong, but like the others mentioned, he is often associated with themes of integrity, reclusion, and a preference for moral principles over societal recognition or power., Yi Yi13夷逸 – Yí Yì. A figure that symbolizes the choice of living outside the constraints of conventional society to maintain personal ethical standards. Yiyi represents the archetype of the recluse who prioritizes spiritual and moral over worldly success., Zhu Zhang14朱张 – Zhū Zhāng. Another individual who chose reclusion as a way to preserve personal integrity. Specific details about Zhu Zhang are scarce, reflecting the broader theme of anonymity and solitude among hermits., Liuxia Hui15柳下惠 – Liǔxià Huì. Known for his humility and virtue, Liuxia Hui is often highlighted as a model of ethical conduct and benevolence. His interactions with Confucius underscore themes of righteousness and moral character. Stories of his humility include giving up his seat regularly for others and declining prestigious positions., and Shao Lian16少连 – Shào Lián. While specific historical contributions or philosophies of Shao Lian are not extensively documented, his inclusion in lists of revered hermits signifies a respect for those who live according to their principles, often in solitude or obscurity., among others. Confucius respected them all, even though he disagreed with their behaviours.17Confucius believed that virtuous leaders should try reforming from within rather than retreat entirely from politics. This contrasted with the principled stance of the recluses.
Confucius divided recluses into three categories. Those like Bo Yi and Shu Qi, who never gave up their resolve and did not sacrifice their dignity – “they did not lower their aspirations or disgrace themselves.” Those like Liuxia Hui and Shao Lian, who sacrificed some of their resolve and dignity, but conducted themselves in a sensible and appropriate manner – “they lowered their aspirations and disgraced themselves, but their words were ethical and their actions were thoughtful.” And those like Yu Zhong and Yi Yi, who retreated from the world, spoke freely, avoided wrongdoing, and refrained from politics – “living in seclusion, speaking openly, maintaining personal virtue, and forsaking political power.”
Confucius spoke highly of all of them, indicating that even recluses had a positive side.
Participating in political activities often requires sacrificing some of one’s resolve and dignity. It is inevitable. Liuxia Hui was a judge dismissed from his position thrice and his family advised him to leave the country. He firmly upheld justice, replying, “To follow the righteous path in serving people,18直道而事人 – zhí dào ér shì rén. Literally to follow the righteous path in serving people. It means adhering to ethical principles and integrity in public service, regardless of personal cost or the challenges faced. won’t one face adversity thrice wherever one goes? To deviate from the path – and make a temporary compromise – in serving people,19枉道而事人 – wàng dào ér shì rén. Literally to bend the path in serving people. This means making compromises or temporarily setting aside one’s principles in the service of others, highlighting the ethical dilemmas faced in governance and public service. why should one leave one’s homeland?”
The key point (of the Analects) lies in serving the people – obeying one’s superiors – and whether one takes action in the right path or deviates to adapt with compromises. Engaging in politics for public interest means having to follow orders.
Upholding one’s principles while serving the public without pursuing personal fame and wealth requires obeying orders from superiors, but it can also be considered a form of recluse. As for the recluse in the general sense, the basic requirement is to seek personal liberation and freedom without having to serve others.
In writing wuxia novels, my goal is to explore human nature, as is the case with most novels. During the years I spent writing The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, the Cultural Revolution20A sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 to 1976 initiated by Mao Zedong, aiming at preserving Chinese communism by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society. The period was marked by a wide range of social, political, and economic upheavals. See Wikipedia. in China was in full swing. Those in authority and the rebels fought for power using all means possible, and human depravity was on prominent display.
I wrote daily editorial columns for the Ming Pao21明报 – Míng bào. A Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong co-founded by Jin Yong and known for its comprehensive news coverage and commentary on a wide range of topics, including politics and culture. See Wikipedia. newspaper, and my strong aversion to the corrupt actions in politics was naturally reflected in my daily martial arts novel writing.
This novel is not intended as a direct commentary on the Cultural Revolution, but rather attempts to portray various common phenomena in Chinese political life over the past three thousand years. Satirical novels have limited significance as political situations change quickly, only the portrayal of human nature holds long-term value.
The relentless pursuit of power at all costs is a fundamental aspect of political life both past and present, not only in China but also worldwide. This has been the case for thousands of years in the past, and it is likely to remain so for thousands of years to come.
When I conceived characters like Ren Woxing22任我行 – Rèn Wǒxíng. A character symbolizing the embodiment of power and the corruption that often accompanies it. Ren Woxing’s actions in the narrative serve as an allegory for the intoxicating effects of power and the moral compromises made in its pursuit. See Ren Woxing., Dongfang Bubai23东方不败 – Dōngfāng Bùbài. Represents the extremes one might go to maintain and enhance power, including personal transformation and manipulation, reflecting on the lengths political figures might go to secure their position. See Dongfang Bubai., Yue Buqun24岳不群 – Yuè Bùqún. Embodies the hypocrisy within politics, showcasing a facade of morality while engaging in unscrupulous actions for personal gain, highlighting the contrast between public image and private ambitions. See Yue Buqun., and Zuo Lengchan25左冷禅 – Zuǒ Lěngchán. Illustrates the strategic and ideological manipulation for power consolidation, mirroring tactics used in political arenas to manipulate public perception and control factions. See Zuo Lengchan., I envisioned them primarily as political figures rather than martial arts experts.Lin Pingzhi26林平之 – Lín Píngzhī. A character that represents the younger generation’s entanglement in political machinations, reflecting the impact of legacy and the burden of expectations in political dynasties. See Lin Pingzhi., Xiang Wentian27向问天 – Xiàng Wèntiān. Symbolizes loyalty and the dilemma of serving under corrupt leadership, showcasing the conflicts between personal ethics and professional allegiance. See Xiang Wentian., Master Fangzheng28方证大师 – Fāngzhèng dàshī. Represents the moral authority figures in politics, those who hold sway over public opinion through virtue and wisdom, yet are caught in the political struggles of their times. See Fangzheng., Daoist Master Chongxu29冲虑道人 – Chōngxǜ dàorén. Embodies the advisers and strategists behind the scenes, whose insights and manipulations influence the course of political events from the shadows. See Chongxu., Abbess Dingxian30定闲师太 – Dìngxián shītài. A figure representing the female leadership and its challenges in a male-dominated political landscape, highlighting the balance between power and femininity. See Dingxian., Mister Mo Da31莫大先生 – Mò Dà xiānshēng. Symbolizes the intellectual or philosophical guide, whose wisdom and moral compass provide direction amid political chaos. See Mo Da., Yu Canghai32余沧海 – Yú Cānghǎi. Represents the ambitious political climbers, those who are willing to betray and switch allegiances for personal advancement. See Yu Canghai., Mu Gaofeng33木高峰 – Mù Gāofēng. Embodies the brute force or military might often utilised in power struggles, reflecting on the role of force and intimidation in political manoeuvring. See Mu Gaofeng., and others were also political figures. These various types of characters exist in every era, and I believe they can be found in other countries as well, within large and small businesses, schools, and various organisations.
“Unifying the jianghu34江湖 – jiānghú. The world of martial arts. A sub-society involving all who are related to the martial arts scene. See jianghu. for eternal glory”35千秋万载，一统江湖 – qiān qiū wàn zǎi, tǒng yī jiāng hú. Literally thousands of autumns and tens of thousands of years to unify the jianghu. It is a slogan that captures the ambition of dominating the jianghu, a common theme in wuxia novels. It reflects the desire for power and the idea of leaving a lasting legacy. is a slogan written in serialisation during the 1960s. The corruption of Ren Woxing from wielding great power is a common aspect of human nature. These were not added or modified after the book had been completed.
Interestingly, when the Gang of Four36The Gang of Four refers to a political faction within the Communist Party of China known for its significant influence during the Cultural Revolution and its members were later charged with a series of treasonous crimes after Mao Zedong’s death. See Wikipedia. seized power and altered the national anthem of the People’s Republic of China, they actually included the phrase “eternal glory”37The actual wording is the phrase “thousands of autumns and tens of thousands of years” that Jin Yong used as the Sun Moon Order’s slogan. in the lyrics.
During the serialisation of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer in Ming Pao, twenty-one Chinese, Vietnamese, and French newspapers in Saigon serialised it at the same time. During debates in the South Vietnamese National Assembly, it was common for lawmakers to accuse each other of being Yue Buqun (hypocrites) or Zuo Lengchan (attempting to establish hegemony).
It was probably due to the turbulent political situation in South Vietnam at that time that the general public took a particular interest in political struggles.
Linghu Chong38令狐冲 – Lìnghú Chōng. See Linghu Chong. is a natural recluse uninterested in power. Yingying39任盈盈 – Rèn Yíngyíng. See Ren Yingying. is also a recluse who held the power to decide the life and death of jianghu heroes, but chose to live in seclusion in a shabby alley in Luoyang40洛阳 – Luòyáng. An ancient city in China, historically significant as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Luoyang has served as a capital for several dynasties throughout Chinese history, known for its cultural heritage. See [Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luoyang). where she indulged in playing the guqin41古琴 – gǔqín. Traditionally referred to as qin, with the prefix gu- added to indicate that it is the ancient qin as opposed to modern usage to refer to other musical instruments. Traditionally been favoured by scholars and literati as an instrument of great subtlety and refinement. See Wikipedia. and xiao42箫 – xiāo. An ancient Chinese musical instrument that is a vertical end-blown tube that is typically made of bamboo. See Wikipedia.. In her life, she only values personal freedom and the expression of her personality. The only thing important to her is love. This lass is very shy and reserved, but she is the one to take the initiative when it comes to love.
When Linghu Chong is emotionally entangled with Yue Lingshan,43岳灵珊 – Yuè Língshān. See Yue Lingshan. he feels trapped. It is only when he is on the main road outside the black gauze tent and travelling with Yingying in the carriage that his infatuation with Yue Lingshan finally disappears. Only then does he achieve spiritual liberation.
At the end of the book, Yingying reaches out and grabs Linghu Chong’s wrist, and saying with a sigh, “I never thought that I, Ren Yingying, would end up spending my whole life bound to a big monkey and never to part again.” Yingying’s love has been fulfilled, and she is content, but Linghu Chong’s freedom is once again restricted. Perhaps, only in Yilin’s44仪琳 – Yílín. See Yilin. unrequited love did his personality experience minimal restraint.
Complete freedom in life is fundamentally unattainable. To be liberated from all desires and attain enlightenment is the highest state pursued in Buddhism, known as Nirvana,[^nirvana] which is beyond the reach of ordinary people. Those who are passionate about politics and power are driven by their desire for influence. They find themselves compelled by circumstances beyond their control, doing many things that betray their own conscience. This is rather pitiable.
In traditional Chinese art, whether it be poetry, prose, drama, or painting, the pursuit of individual freedom has always been the most prominent theme.The more turbulent the times, the more suffering people endure, the more prominent this theme becomes.
As the saying goes, “One is bound by circumstances when in the jianghu.”46人在江湖，身不由己 – rén zài jiāng hú, shēn bù yoú jǐ. Literally “When one is in the jianghu, one’s body is not one’s own.” Withdrawing from the jianghu is no easy matter. Liu Zhengfeng47刘正风 – Liú Zhèngfēng. See Liu Zhengfeng. pursues artistic freedom, values friendship that resonates deeply with his heart, and wishes to wash his hands of his past life48金盆洗手 – jīn pén xǐ shǒu. Washing one’s hand in a golden basin. A symbolic act of retiring from the martial arts world, indicating one’s intention to leave behind a life of conflict and strife.. The Four Friends of Plum Manor49梅庄四友 – Méizhuāng sìyǒu. Literally four friends of Plum Manor. wish to live incognito in solitude to enjoying the pleasures of guqin, weiqi, calligraphy, and painting.
However, they are unable to achieve their dreams and ultimately sacrifice their lives, because as the power struggles (politics) do not allow them to. Politics exists within any group or organisation. Wang Meng50王蒙 – Wáng Méng. A respected Chinese author and critic, known for his deep emotional connection to literature and its reflections on human nature and society. See Wikipedia. said that when he read the scene of Liu Zhengfeng golden basin handwashing ceremony, he was moved to tears. I believe this was the reason.
There should be greater moral affirmation for a great xia like Guo Jing,51郭靖 – Guō Jìng. The protagonist of Legend of the Condor Heroes and supporting cast of Return of the Condor Heroes. See Guo Jing. who willingly faces danger and undertakes seemingly impossible tasks. Linghu Chong is not a great xia, but a recluse like Tao Qian52陶潜 – Táo Qián. Tao Yuanming is one of the most famous poets of the Eastern Jin Dynasty in China. He is celebrated for his poetry that extols the virtues of a simple and honest life lived in harmony with nature. Tao Yuanming is often depicted as a symbol of integrity and reclusion, having chosen to resign from officialdom to lead a life of farming and writing, reflecting his disdain for the corruption and the intrigue of the imperial court. See Wikipedia. who pursues freedom and self-liberation.
Feng Qingyang53风清扬 – Fēng Qīngyáng. See Feng Qingyang. retreats into seclusion due to feeling disillusioned, despair, shame, and dejection. Linghu Chong, however, is naturally unrestrained and unbridled.
On Blackwood Cliff,54黑木崖 – Hēi Mù Yá. Literally blackwood cliff. It is the headquarters of the Sun Moon Order. See Blackwood Cliff. whether it was Yang Lianting[^yanglianting] or Ren Woxing who held supreme power, a mere laugh from others could lead to fatal consequences, and arrogance was even more intolerable.The carefree and unrestrained spirit of The Smiling, Proudly Wanderer is the goal pursued by characters like Linghu Chong.
Since the book aims to depict universal characters and common phenomena in political life, it does not have a historical background. This implies that similar situations can occur in any era and within any group.
May 198055Jin Yong wrote this Afterword in 1980 when he revised the original serialisation of his works into a novel. This is known as the [Second Edition](https://wuxiasociety.com/jin-yong-novels/#second-edition).
When Jin Yong revised the novel the second time, he added on to the previous afterword to address critics and deliver some of his own criticism.