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date: 28 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the place of genre in modern Chinese fiction through a reading of Xiang Kairan’s martial arts novel Righteous Heroes of Modern Times, considered one of the foundational works of modern martial arts fiction. The novel’s narrative centers on the question of the transmission of China’s martial arts. In a self-reflexive turn, it establishes connections between the transmission of the martial arts and of narrative—both the transitivity of the narrative act and the transmission of particular bodies of narrative material. The tale involves a modernization of the mode of transmission, thus probing the tension between continuity and change inherent in the logic of transmission—of martial arts traditions as well as of the generic structures of martial arts fiction. This allows for a reflection on the laws of genre itself, since a genre work succeeds in part by varying or violating the material that it inherits.

Keywords: martial arts novel, Xiang Kairan, Pingjian Buxiaosheng, Huo Yuanjia, genre

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