Over time, foreign audiences have been getting more of a taste of Chinese literature through the popular medium of online novels. Online communities such as Volare Novels have recognized high-quality Chinese online novels and have worked hard to translate these works from Chinese to English for foreign audiences to enjoy.
Chinese online novels dabble in popular mainstream genres ?like fantasy, sci-fi, romance, etc, whereas they also delve into genres and cultural elements native to China, including wuxia, xianxia, and so on.
Another interesting and popular element of these novels that tends to crop up again and again is the idea of transmigration, or traveling to another world. It’s not necessarily in the sense of traveling to another planet like Mars, but rather in the sense of moving through time to inhabit a new body and to live in an earlier era. Unlike many Western time travel novels which involve cycling or moving back and forth between multiple time periods, Chinese online novels with this transmigration element usually involves a permanent trip to the previous era, making it very difficult to return to the original timeline.
As a fan of history, I am especially intrigued by the use and explanation of traditional feudal Chinese customs. For example, the use of language (such as the specific words used when an imperial official or emperor is speaking), bowing, and other customs that the main character comments on as they try to make their way through a new world interest me.
The biggest key difference I’ve found, however, is in the communities surrounding online novels. Unlike Western online fan fiction which tends to focus on already existing media as a spinoff or an alternate timeline with new characters, Chinese online novels tend to attract a live following in the same way a popular TV series like Game of Thrones would. This fan following stays glued to the online novel series, excitedly waiting for the new chapter to drop.
那么，在Teens的外籍编辑Patrick McCarthy和 Alex Tani眼中，对下面这些网文怎么看呢？
御医不为妃 Physician, Not a Consort：
Imagine you were sent back in time with no way to return. What would you do? Would you try to make money using your advanced knowledge? And if you had the power to fly through the air with the gift of qinggong, would you use it to help or harm others?
These are the questions that are explored in Physician, Not a Consort (《御医不为妃》). In this online novel, the female main character – Lin Haihai – starts out as a kind and skilled physician in present-day Beijing. Yet, all of this changes after Lin supposedly dies, with her spirit being sent back several centuries to feudal China. Lin finds her way around strange and unfamiliar surroundings, setting up a hospital for charity, and even getting caught up in love stories with the Sixth Prince Yang Hanlun and the emperor Yang Shaolun.
One more interesting element of the story is the differences between Lin as a physician in the present and her as a physician in the feudal past.
The story also makes great use of unique Chinese elements – specifically, the uses of qinggong.
However, sometimes, these Chinese elements can be confusing for foreign readers, such as what qinggong is and how it works. In this case, future translated online Chinese novels should provide more details about Chinese culture.
画骨女仵作 Bone Painting Coroner：
Nowadays, with advanced technologies and rich knowledge, forensic scientists play a vital role in solving mysteries and fighting against crime. But how about this profession in the ancient world?
Chinese online novel Bone Painting Coroner describes the story of a modern forensic scientist transmigrating to the feudal era after her death and taking residence in the body of a 13-year-old girl called Ji Yunshu. To survive in this new and alien environment, Ji eventually uses her knowledge in the modern society and resumes her old profession and works as a bone painting coroner in yamen (government office). What she usually does is to reconstruct the appearance of the deceased whose faces were destroyed beyond recognition by painting them on a canvas .
Although the forensic scientists are familiar with people in modern society, they are different in ancient China. Living in the ancient world where most coroners were men, Ji is always struggling to fit into the structure of feudal society. Though she has a good knowledge of forensics, Ji still needs to change clothes and even wears a skin-like mask to hide her true appearance while working. In this novel, a common topic ? gender discrimination ?is put forward. As the topic is common in modern society around the world, readers today can easily relate to this topic and find connections for discussion.
As Ji strives for her work and independence and eventually works to uncover different mysteries while helping others, readers may feel encouraged. That seemed to tell them that everyone can make magic happen when they break through gender barriers.
超脱万象 Sundering Nature
Li Yiming is just an average man. After graduating from college, he looks forward to a steady job and life with his girlfriend Xiaoqin. But this happy vision of the future is destroyed when he sees his girlfriend in the arms of another. Pained by this discovery, Li climbs the building and gets ready to jump. In the darkness behind him is a man who will change his life forever, letting him leave the normal world behind and enter a universe of magic and adventure.
As Li’s story progresses, he is recruited into the ranks of the Guardians – a talented group of magical warriors tasked with destroying secret domains where evil lies. But it is still difficult for Li to forget about his initial trauma. Although he develops his powers and abilities, becoming superhuman at times, the pain of his girlfriend’s betrayal sticks with him. That shows a strong sense of irony and comedy throughout the novel. Clearly, the author of Sundering Nature did not just write this story to entertain, but also to heal.
Also, it’s easy to see the humorous differences between Li and his colleagues. Although they are good at magical fighting skills, able to defeat demons and monsters with their own hands and magical powers, Li is just a dance student from Hangzhou. These differences make for funny dialogues in the story. However, why has he been chosen in the first place? Was it a mistake, or maybe a coincidence ? Answers to all these questions can be found in the novel.
With the core story being a tragedy about loss, the emotional elements of the novel are what really hit home for me. It shows unique elements of Chinese culture, with the story of a hero from humble beginning working hard to gain strength despite facing tough difficulties; but it’s the comedy that really makes the story stand out.
萌兽来袭，美色难挡 Adorable creatures attacks
For some, death is the end. But for Gu Qingyu in Adorable Creature Attacks, death is just the beginning.
A licensed psychiatrist in the modern era, Gu is one day randomly attacked by a shadowy force. Her life flashes before her eyes, her strength fades and she feels her soul leaving her body. Her dying wish is for another attempt to try again, in which she would not waste the opportunities presented to her. A mysterious creature, hearing her call for help, takes pity. He grants her desire – a chance at life once more. She is then transported to a world of magic, filled with characters straight out of a historical drama. This is where her adventure begins.
The way the author describes Gu’s surroundings when she first awakes in the world is impressive. Staring into the water of a lake and looking at the reflection, she doesn’t recognize herself. It’s only when she sees her elegant gown that she knows she has traveled back in time.
As the title of the online novel shows, readers will be excited to meet some of the cute creatures in this magical world. Adorable monsters are ready to be met with every turn of the page, whose cute smile and fluffy fur can warm even the darkest monster’s blackened heart. This was a good break from some magical novels that don’t have time to show the more relaxed elements of fantasy.
来源：《21世纪学生英文报·高三》800期 （作者：Patrick McCarthy，Alex Tani）
轻创业，互联网创业项目，官方网站：ruyikt.com，添加 微信：fqy121389 备注：小项目！