Legend of the White-Haired Demoness
Last update: Saturday 17 June 2006
aka: Bai Fa Mo Nu Zhuan [白发魔女传], Baak Faat Mo Neui Chyun [白髮魔女傳], Bạch Phát Ma Nũ Truyện, Bach Phat Ma Nu Truyen, Wanita Gagah Perkasa: Hantu Wanita Berambut Putih, The Bride With White Hair, Romance of the White Haired Maiden.
Translated by Faerie Queene.
Work-in-progress (about 44%).
A Reader's Comment:
- "I just wanted to leave a note congratulating you on some really amazing translation work. I love this story, and I owe my being able to read it to you, so please accept my heartfelt thanks." - Rob, spcnet.tv/forums.
A Note from the Translator
Yu Luo Cha was once asked why she didn't disguise herself as a man in order to keep a low profile during one of her journeys. But she laughed and replied that she wanted to bring glory to all those who wear dresses, therefore did not want to dress up as a man. That is undoubtedly the reason why I decided to translate Liang Yu Sheng's "Bai Fa Mo Nu Zhuan" or "The Legend of the White Haired Maiden." Like Yu Luo Cha (and I believe, also like Liang Yu Sheng), I hope to bring glory to female characters in Wuxia and give readers an opportunity to enjoy a female character that is so strong and colourful, she overshadows everyone else including the male characters. Unlike the typical beauty in wuxia, Yu Luo Cha does not need protection or help from anybody else. Nor is she a sweet, pacified or innocent little girl. While being noble and heroic, she is also wild and vicious, beautiful and terrifying. To top it all off, she is a female bandit who is extremely well trained in martial arts, but not at all very well trained in the literary arts. To put it simply, Yu Luo Cha is definitely very different.
However, I don't want to make it sound like "Bai Fa" is chick-wuxia. It just happens to be centred around a strong female lead, but that doesn't mean that it's centred around sappy romance plotlines. That is another important point to keep in mind about the story. The television serials and movies always emphasizes the romance plotlines of the novel, always playing up the tragedy of Yu Luo Cha and Zhuo Yi Hang's romance. Perhaps Liang Yu Sheng himself had originally intended to elaborate more on the tragically-romantic themes as alluded to in the poem that begins the story. But Zhuo Yi Hang fails miserably as a male lead (and believe me, I intend to retain every ounce of his nerdiness in my translation) and the novel is not about the romance between Yu Luo Cha and Zhuo Yi Hang. But rather, as the very title suggests, it is about the legend of a woman: her story, her legend, but also most importantly, her tragedy.
It should also be understood that "Bai Fa" is not some kind of angry male-bashing feminist novel either, although there are a great number of very engaging females in the novel and an alarming number of pathetic men as well. But writing about strong and noble females is characteristic of Liang Yu Sheng's stories and "Bai Fa" is undoubtedly a story which privileges and supports feministic issues that bears a sophistication which is well ahead of Liang's era. Furthermore, there are very engaging men in the novel as well, such as the very admirable Yue Ming Ke, the impressive Wang Zhao Xi, the very adorable Bai Min and the very likeable Tie Fei Long.
Furthermore, this novel is a pretty good place to start in terms of Liang Yu Sheng's "Tian Shan" series. He wrote about the history and outcome of this sect in 22 out of his 35 novels, allowing for much inter-textual referencing and links, further allowing the characters to become more three-dimensional and the stories to be more authentic, as if there really was such a history of heroes in the past. Although "Bai Fa's" Yue Ming Ke perhaps technically cannot be considered as the founder of the "Tian Shan" sect, but he was the person who officially established the sect's eminence and therefore is considered as the founder of the sect.
For me personally, this novel was particularly special because of Yu Luo Cha's character – which was different and particularly colourful even when compared to the Liang Yu Sheng's other strong female characters. However, that is not to say that the novel is flawless or that it is Liang Yu Sheng's best work. It is definitely a very good work – incredibly sophisticated in many aspects and very entertaining as well. It is definitely one of his most famous works. However, there are many problems with certain plotlines and pacing, especially near the bottom half of the story. I personally think that the story could have benefited had he excised about 4 or 5 chapters. Therefore I don't plan to do a full translation of every chapter. The chapters or parts of chapters that I decide to not translate will be instead detailed in point-form notes. If I am ever lucky enough to finish the story, I'll go back to fill in the missing parts. But at this time, I will only translate the parts that I feel would be the most engaging for others to read. Hopefully this way, I can make it to the end.
Lastly, I would like to make a note about the title of my translation. The common translated title of the book is "The Legend of the White Haired Maiden" (or as TV serials and movies would translate in hopes of playing up the romance element: "Romance of the White Haired Maiden" or "The Bride with White Hair"). But I feel that none of these titles can truly capture the themes of the novel. Firstly, the title "Legend of the White Haired Maiden" leaves out the word "Mo" (demonic) which exists in the original Chinese title. This is particularly important as "Bai Fa" is in large part a tragedy about the character Yu Luo Cha. It is important to recognize the stigmatism that she receives and to tease out the irony in such labels as "good" and "evil". As Liang points out in his introductory poem: Who is really the demonic one? He asks the readers to judge for themselves. Therefore, in my translation, I've opted for the title "Legend of the White Haired Demoness" in order to remain closer to the novel's original title and intent.
I hope you will enjoy this novel as much as I did. Perhaps you will fall in love with the characters as I did, and hopefully Yu Luo Cha can be as memorable a character for you, as it was for me. You perhaps may not even like somebody such as Yu Luo Cha very much (and in all honesty, she is a very flawed person), but I'm sure that you can't deny the fact that she is as Wang Zhao Xi says, "an extraordinary woman."
Another Reader's Comment
- "Thank you so much Faerie Queene, your translation is marvellous and your love to the source material indeed shines through and gives extra pleasure to the reader." - Eliza Bennet, spcnet.tv/forums.
Metal Arrow, Divine Bow
Youth Assisting Wealthy Governmental Official
Gold Saddle, Noble Horse
Great Bandit Shakes Up Masquerade
Shocking the Imperial Capital
Scandal of the Club Assaulting Case,
Chaos in the palace,
Chance Encounter With a Night Traveler
Bloodbath between Brothers
Sword’s Force Explodes Inner Palace
Love and Hate unresolved
Extraordinary Encounter in Ancient Cave
Part Summary and Translation
Seven Greats’ Formation Efforts Voided
Great Villain Surrenders Life
Thirty Year’s Love A Dream
Stone Wall Yields Manual
Trouble Hits Smooth Road
Villain Strikes With Deadly Hand
Little City Catches Fire
Wicked Conspiracy Revealed in Dungeon
Sentiments Revealed Under Moonlit Night
Binds Ill-fated Love
Battling Rare Master on Mountain
Sword Palm Faces Off
Sword Manual Incites Unthinkable Tragedy
One Storm Succeeds Another
Sect Leader Imparts Heavy Responsibility
Unexpected Misunderstandings Erupts Everywhere
Humbly Honours Sect Leader
Entangled Heartstrings Cannot be Broken
Spilled Water Forever Unrecoverable
Sorrow and Hatred Still Remains
Part Summary and Translation
Martial World Lurks Tricksters
Scheming to cheat Red Pill
Clever and Extraordinary Youngster
Sincerely Asks for Sword Manual
Sword Deciphers Profound Truth
Heavenly Mountain Produces Legendary Swordsman
Capital Rumours Strange Scandals
Inner Palace Festers Illicit Adulterer
Frustrated Feelings Not Dissipated
Sadden Heart Laments One’s Country
Powerful Villain Pulls Tricks
Devises Plan to Harm General
Turbulent Storms Frequently Weathered
Old Hatred Lingers After Heartbreak
State’s Changes Transforms Society
New Vengeances Arise From Adventures
Famed Warrior’s Noble Character
Demoness Bows Down To Wholeheartedly
Under the MiMo Cliff
Demon Matriarch Strives For Triumph