Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils
Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (天龙八部) is a long Wuxia novel by Louis Cha.
It was first published on 3 September, 1963 on the newspapers Ming Pao in Hong Kong and Nanyang Siang Pau in Singapore and ran for four consecutive years.
It has since spawned several movies and television serials adaptations in both Mainland China and Hong Kong. The title of the novel has been a challenge for translators for years. It is based on the Eight Races of non-human entities described in Buddhist cosmology. In Buddhism, even though these Demi-Gods are ranked higher than mortals, they are still bound to the Samsara by their own passions and desires. It is said that Jin Yong originally modelled each major character after one of the Races. As he wrote on, the complexity of the story made it impossible for such a simplistic mapping.
Ni Kuang's additions
For a short time during this period, Cha went on travel and fellow writer Ni Kuang continued the serialization on his behalf, which accounted for more than 40,000 words. One notable addition to the novel was that Ni Kuang wrote the section when one of the characters, A Zi, was blinded. Since the novel was a serialization, Cha had no choice but to continue where Ni Kuang left off. In his revision, Cha excised most of what Ni wrote, but retained the parts where A Zi had been blinded, since the story had now built upon this crucial plot-point.
The main thematic element of the novel concerns the complex, often troubled relationships between the great multitude of characters from various kingdoms and sects, and the inherent bond that underlies the struggles of each. Ultimately, the novel examines the cause and effect that forms and breaks these bonds on five uniquely corresponding levels: self, family, society, ethnic group, and country (dominion). The timeframe in which the novel takes place is historically based upon the era of the Northern Song Dynasty, and includes the warring empires of Song, Liao, Dali, Western Xia and Tubo.