土曜日, 1月 31, 2004

Yang family warriors, pt. II

In reading the Chronicles, you discover the Chinese concept of the strong woman. Though the 楊家將 (Yang family warriors) start out with a patriarch and seven sons, everyone but the sixth son dies or goes missing. (No. 6 dies later, but after producing an heir.) For the rest of the story, Son No. 6 and his boy (Wen Guan) go through various crises and rely on their mothers, wives, and aunts to bail them out. These 楊家女將 ("lady warriors of the Yang family") are mostly widows who still fight for the corrupt dynasty that killed their husbands.

From the Chronicles, it seems that Chinese men don't mind being beaten by beautiful warrior women, as long as the women fall in love with them in return. If two or three (or four or five!) such women fall desperately in love with the same man...why, the more the merrier! This scenario is a staple of lesser historical novels (the irritating 兒女英雄傳) and wushia novels (the Jinyong ones come to mind). Why these spirited, athletic, independent Chinese women would fall for physically weaker, annoyingly orthodox Chinese men is a mystery. Wen Guan's excuse is that he's a 10th century Orlando Bloom, but most of the other "heroes" are not that lucky. The classic example is Liu Bei from Three Kingdoms and Sun Chuan's besotted sister. Liu Bei is not much of a prize, but the Princess abandons her family for him anyway. Gah.

I'm usually not much of a feminist, but Chinese novels always get me worked up.