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5 April 1926|
Mengshan County, Guangxi Province, Republic of China
|Died||22 January 2009
|Pen name||Liang Yusheng|
|Notable works||see below|
Chen Wentong (5 April 1926 – 22 January 2009), better known by his pen name Liang Yusheng, was a Chinese writer. Credited as the pioneer of the "New School" (新派) of the wuxia genre in the 20th century, Chen was one of the best known wuxia writers in the later half of the century, alongside Jin Yong and Gu Long.
Chen was born in a family of scholars in Mengshan County, Guangxi Province in Republican China. He was well versed in ancient Chinese classics and duilian and could recite the Three Hundred Tang Poems by the age of seven. He started writing poems when he was attending Guilin High School in Guangxi. He was tutored by Jian Youwen, who specialised in the history of the Taiping Rebellion, and Rao Zongyi, who was well read in poetry, humanities, art and the history of Dunhuang. Chen learnt history and literature from both of them. Later, he was accepted into Guangzhou's Lingnan University, where he graduated from in 1948 with a degree in economics. In 1949, he settled in Hong Kong and became an editor for the newspaper Ta Kung Pao and a member of its executive committee through the principal's recommendation. The following year, he worked as a copyeditor for another newspaper, Sin Wun Pao.
In 1954, Chen made a breakthrough in his career when he wrote his first wuxia novel Longhu Dou Jinghua to entertain readers in the light of an ongoing contest between two martial arts schools, which was the talk of the town that year. This marked the start of a "new school" of the wuxia genre, with Chen as its pioneer and the emergence of other writers such as Jin Yong and Gu Long. Over his career, Chen wrote a total of 33 novels, of which Baifa Monü Zhuan (白髮魔女傳) and Yunhai Yugong Yuan (雲海玉弓緣) are some of the better known ones. Many of his novels have been adapted into television series and films. As Chen was interested in history and literature, he also wrote columns, critiques and essays under different names, including "Liang Hueru" and "Fong Yuning".
Chen retired to Sydney, Australia, with his family in the 1980s. In August 2004, he was granted an honorary Doctor of Arts by his alma mater, Lingnan University (which has moved to Hong Kong), for his contributions to the development of literature.
In 2005, Tsui Hark adapted Chen's novel Qijian Xia Tianshan (七劍下天山) into the film Seven Swords and its derived television series counterpart, Seven Swordsmen. The 1993 film The Bride with White Hair is also an adaptation of Chen's Baifa Monü Zhuan.
After suffering a stroke during a visit to Hong Kong in 2007, Chen died in Sydney on 22 January 2009 of natural causes.
Style of writing
The opening of Chen's novels are always marked with a poem, which indicated his interest in poetry. The protagonists of his novels are also talented in several aspects, versatile, and interested in literature. Chen also infuses historical elements into his stories, a style which was later followed by other wuxia writers such as Jin Yong. Unlike many other writers, Chen does not regard Shaolin and Wudang as the major orthodox sects in the wulin (martial artists' community). Instead, he features the Mount Heaven Sect as the leading school.
Liang Yusheng's works listed in chronological order (by historical setting):
- "Seven Swords novelist dies". Straits Times (Singapore). 28 January 2009. p. C7.
- Liang Yusheng granted Honorary Doctorate (21 August 2004). People's Daily Online.
- Martial arts novelist Liang Yusheng dies. Danwei. 27 January 2009. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- 梁羽生 (Liang Yusheng). Chinese Wusia Knight Errant. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
- Liang Yusheng
- Liang Yusheng – The Pioneer
- The Wanderer Chronicles (萍踪侠影录) – Read a chapter-by-chapter English summary of Liang Yusheng's Pingzong Xiaying Lu (via WuxiaSociety2 – formerly known as Wuxiamania)
- Seven Swords Novel Translation English summary translation of Qijian Xia Tianshan (updated 27 August 2007) done by Yenchin of Wuxiasociety.org