I ought to have started participating in Carnival of Aces a long time ago. I really ought to go through the archives because what I find is generally spiffy.
To compensate for my tardiness, for November’s Carnival of Aces I’m going to write a multi-post series about asexual themes in Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ.
What is Asexuality?
If you are not from the asexuality community, you should probably read through this FAQ in order to make sense of what I’m going to talk about. Asexuality Archive offers a more thorough introduction.
What is Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ
Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ is the second part of the “Condor Trilogy”, and possibly the most popular Chinese-language novel of the 20th century. The title has many translations into English, but probably the most literal would be ‘Divine Eagle, Gallant Companion’.
It’s a wuxia novel – if you don’t know what that is, let’s just that it’s set in medieval China and there is a lot of sword-fighting. The novel is mostly about the romance between the two main characters, and as I’ve mentioned in this blog before, it gets compared to Romeo and Juliet. It’s common in Chinese-language media for people to demonstrate how in love they are with somebody by comparing themselves to this novel’s main characters.
This is not where I would expect to find juicy asexual themes.
But they are there.
Dear goodness they are there.
So I’m going to examine Shēn Diāo Xiá Lǚ‘s asexual themes.
Knowing the story is not required (and spoiler policy)
First of all, I will write this series of posts in such a way that readers won’t have to know the story to understand what I am saying.
Nonetheless, some readers may want to know the story anyway. These are the English-language options:
– Though the novel has never been published in English, there is a fan translation.
– The 1983 TV series, called ‘Return of the Condor Heroes’, is available on DVD with English subtitles (theme song)
– The 2006 TV series, called ‘Condor Hero’, is available on DVD with English subtitles (theme song)
– There is an anime, called ‘Legend of the Condor Heroes’, available on DVD with English subtitles
– There is a Hong Kong manhua (comic book), called ‘The Legendary Couple’, which has been partially published in English (more info here)
– There is a Singapore manhua (comic book), called ‘Return of the Condor Heroes’, which has been completely published in English (more info here)
I am going to base my analysis on the second edition of the novel.
As far as triggers, the story itself (not this series of blog posts) contains a lot of a) violence b) bullying (of children) and c) a rape scene.
Finally, I can’t completely avoid spoilers. What I can do is not spoil the ending. So these posts won’t be spoiler free; on the other hand, no earth-shattering spoilers.
I get to combine my interest in both asexuality and wuxia in one blog series … bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha…