The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
Afterword (Third Edition)
Translation by Jenxi Seow.
Some mainland literary critics commented: After Yue Buqun’s wife Ning Zhongze2宁中则 – Nìng Zhōngzé. More often refered to as Madam Yue since she was Yue Buqun’s wife. See Ning Zhongze. learns of her husband’s despicable and vile nature, her disillusionment and despair lead her to suicide. They find this irrational and against human nature, and argue that she need not have taken her own life.
Some people also believe that Xiao Feng’s3萧峰 – Xiāo Fēng. One of the protagonists of Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils. See Xiao Feng. suicide and his striking of Azhu are not logical. Of course, Russian author Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina4The titular protagonist in Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karénina, whose suicide is a literary exploration of personal despair and societal pressures. See Wikipedia. did not have to commit suicide either. Everyone values life differently. Some project the utilitarian mindset of modern people onto wuxia characters, while others judge Xiao Feng and Ning Zhongze with the Wei Xiaobao5韦小宝 – Wéi Xiǎobǎo. The protagonist of The Deer and the Cauldron, known for his cunning and resourceful nature, often used as a contrast to more traditional heroic figures. value system.
This is akin to some considering Shi Kefa6史可法 – Shǐ Kěfǎ. A Ming dynasty official known for his staunch resistance against the Qing forces in Yangzhou, Jiangsu. His refusal to surrender is often celebrated as a symbol of loyalty and patriotism. See Wikipedia. and Wen Tianxiang’s7文天祥 – Wén Tiānxiáng. A Song dynasty scholar and official who is revered for his unwavering loyalty to the Song dynasty during the Mongol invasion led by Kublai Khan. He chose capture, torture, and eventually execution over surrendering to the Mongols. See Wikipedia. refusal to surrender, and Yue Fei’s8岳飞 – Yuè Fēi. A legendary general of the Southern Song dynasty, remembered for his military campaigns against the Jurchen-ruled Jin dynasty and his loyalty to the Song. His refusal to disobey orders, even when it led to his unjust execution, has made him a symbol of loyalty and patriotism in Chinese culture. See Wikipedia. disobedience as utterly foolish.
In Hong Kong, some people have commented on the She clan descendants9The She clan has maintained the grave of Yuan Chonghuan showing a tradition of loyalty and respect across generations. in Beijing, who have guarded Yuan Chonghuan’s10袁崇焕 – Yuán Chónghuàn. A Ming dynasty general and statesman who played a significant role in defending China against the Manchu invaders. His execution under charges of treason has made him a controversial historical figure. See Wikipedia. tomb for over ten generations, as foolish loyalty. Of course, there are also those who regard Dong Cunrui11董存瑞 – Dǒng Cúnruì. A soldier of the People’s Liberation Army, celebrated in Chinese Communist Party lore for his self-sacrifice during the Chinese Civil War. See Wikipedia. and Lei Feng12雷锋 – Léi Fēng. A soldier of the People’s Liberation Army who has been idealised in propaganda campaigns as a model of selflessness, modesty, and dedication to the Communist Party. See Wikipedia. as irrationally sentimental. Viewing historical figures through the lens of mercenary motives only deems tyrants, treacherous officials, corrupt bureaucrats, and despicable characters as reasonable.
A critic inquired, “Is it possible that Dongfang Bubai engaged in homosexuality after castration?”
Castration is neither a necessary condition nor an inevitable development for homosexuality. Male homosexuality is a historical fact, widely present in the armies of Greece, Rome, and India. Numerous artefacts unearthed attest to this, and such evidence can be seen today by visiting the ancient ruins in Pompeii, Italy, or in the ancient towers of eastern India.
British historian Gibbon13Edward Gibbon is a renowned British historian best known for his work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon’s monumental work offers an exhaustive history of the Roman Empire from the 2nd century AD to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, analyzing the reasons for the collapse of Roman civilization. His work is celebrated for its detailed research, insightful analysis, and elegant prose. See Wikipedia. stated in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire that among the first fourteen emperors of the Roman Empire, thirteen were fond of men, or were bisexual.
In China, it was even more widespread, with idioms like “the passion of Long Yang,”14龙阳 – Lóngyáng. The “Lord Longyang” anecdote involves a favourite male lover of an unknown king of Wei, symbolising sexual opportunism and openness of homosexuality in Zhou dynasty courts. See Wikipedia. “the sharing of a peach,”15分桃 – Fēn táo. The “Sharing Peaches” anecdote comes from the Spring and Autumn period, symbolising homosexual love. It tells of Mizi Xia, who shared a bitten peach with his lover, Duke Ling of Wei, to show the depth of their affection, highlighting the beauty of sharing and selflessness in love. and “the cutting off of a sleeve”16断袖 – Duàn xiù. The “Cut Sleeve” anecdote tells of Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty and his lover, Dong Xian. The emperor chose to cut his sleeve rather than disturb Dong Xian, who was sleeping on it, illustrating deep love and consideration. This story has become a euphemism for homosexual love in Chinese culture. indicating such relationships. Historical figures like Dong Xian17董贤 – Dǒng Xián. A historical figure known for his close relationship with Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty. Their relationship is immortalised in the “Cut Sleeve” anecdote, showcasing Dong Xian as a prominent example of male homosexual love in ancient China. See Wikipedia. and Deng Tong18邓通 – Dèng Tóng. An influential figure known for his close relationship with Emperor Wen of the Han Dynasty. are also factual examples, and even Emperor Wen of Han,19汉文帝 – Hàn Wéndì, a benevolent and wise ruler of the Western Han dynasty, his rule is often cited for its moral integrity and effective governance. See Wikipedia. a wise ruler, was not exempt.
Sexual habits have always been private matters, and laws generally do not stipulate the legality of homosexuality. Today, several Western countries have made it legal for two men to marry officially.
Homosexual individuals who identify as female often enjoy dressing in women’s clothing. This is a sexual preference and has nothing to do with whether one has undergone castration. Then there are those who first identify as homosexual before undergoing gender reassignment surgery. Eunuchs have existed for thousands of years in the courts of Egypt and China.20Eunuchs are men who have been castrated commonly employed as servants and guards to royalty, giving them intimate access to royal families. Castrating them could have helped prevent any attempts to produce illegitimate heirs. Their status as “gender outcasts” was sometimes seen as an asset as they had no families to distract them and owed their loyalty solely to the pharaoh or emperor, being unable to start their own dynasties. They lacked male sexual characteristics but did not necessarily adopting feminine traits.21This comment is aimed at stereotypical portrayal of castrated characters as a homosexual who prefers to feminine dressing and makeup.
This book has been revised several times, with very few changes to the plot.