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The Deer and the Cauldron  
Author Jin Yong
Original title 鹿鼎記
Country Hong Kong
Language Chinese
Genre(s) Wuxia
Publisher Ming Pao
Publication date 24th October 1969
Preceded by 'Sword Stained With Royal Blood'

The Deer and the Cauldron (simplified Chinese: 鹿鼎记traditional Chinese: 鹿鼎記pinyin: Lù Dǐng Jì; Jyutping: Luk6 Ding2 Gei3) or The Duke of Mount Deer is a Wuxia novel by Jin Yong[1]. It is also the last of Jin Yong's Wuxia works.

The novel is initially published as a serial, the first installment published on October 24, 1969 in Ming Pao and ran for 2 years and 11 months until September 23, 1972.

Contents

The novel's title

The choice of the novel's title, which literally means Tale of the Deer and the Cauldron, is alluded to in a section in the first chapter, in which a scholar has a conversation with his son.

The scholar recounts that both the deer and the cauldron serve as metaphors for the Central Plains and the empire.

It is written in volume 92 of the historical text Book of Han "The deer lost by Qin was hunted by all under Heavens (《史记•卷九十二》:“秦失其鹿,天下共逐之。” ), an illustration of the rise of numerous rivalling warlords contesting for supremacy to capture the prize, the empire lost by Qin.

During the Zhou Dynasty, there were the Nine Cauldrons, symbolic of the Divine Mandate of rulership. Zuo Zhuan recorded an account where the ruler of the most powerful State of Chu enquired the weight of the cauldron from a Zhou minister. This sent a clear signal that he was coveting the rulership of the Empire technically possessed by the King of Zhou.

The title refers to the novel's background where the Han Chinese subjects of the fallen Ming Dynasty struggle to restore their former empire by opposing the nascent Manchu-ruled Qing Dynasty.

Characters

  • Wei Xiaobao (韋小寶) – the lazy, illiterate, witty and sly protagonist of the novel. His mother is Wei Chunfang and his father's identity is unknown. He makes a number of seemingly impossible achievements through sheer luck and wit. He leads his family to Yunnan and lives there ever since his retirement from the Jianghu.
    • Wei Xiaobao's family
  • Kangxi Emperor (康熙皇帝) – the ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He develops a close friendship with Wei Xiaobao in their childhood. He is first known to Wei Xiaobao as "Xiaoxuanzi" (小玄子).
  • Hong Antong (洪安通) – the leader of the Mystic Dragon Sect based on Snake Island. He is killed during an internal conflict between the sect's members.
  • Oboi (鳌拜) – the cruel and power-hungry aristocrat who has the intention of usurping the throne. He is removed from power by Wei Xiaobao and the young Kangxi Emperor and eventually dies at Wei's hands.
  • Wu Sangui (吴三桂) – a former subject of the fallen Ming Dynasty. He defects over to the Qing Dynasty and appointed "West Subduing Prince of Yunnan". He imprisons Chen Yuanyuan. He stages a rebellion against the Kangxi Emperor, but fails and presumed to have died of natural causes.
  • Zheng Keshuang (鄭克塽) – a grandson of Koxinga. He is the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Tungning based in Taiwan, which is independent of Qing rule. He is incompetent and spoilt by nature. He is the former lover of A Ke and she leaves him after he reveals his true colours. He surrenders to the Qing Dynasty eventually.

Plot

The story centers on a witty, sly, illiterate and lazy protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, who is born in a Yangzhou brothel. The teenage scamp makes his way from Yangzhou to the capital city Beijing through a series of adventures. In Beijing, he is kidnapped and taken to the Forbidden City where he impersonates a eunuch. While in the palace, Wei bumbles his way into a fateful encounter with the young Kangxi Emperor and they develop an unlikely friendship.

Once, Wei is captured by some pugilists and brought out of the palace. He meets Chen Jinnan, the leader of the anti-Qing organisation Heaven and Earth Society, and becomes Chen's disciple. He also becomes one of the society's Lodge Masters and implanted by the society as an "undercover secret agent" inside the palace. He is captured again and brought to Divine Dragon Island, home base of the sinister Mystic Dragon Sect (神龍教). Unexpectedly, he becomes the sect's White Dragon Marshal by flattering the leader Hong Antong and sheer luck. Wei is also a lecherous womaniser and he marries seven beautiful women whom he encounters in different adventures. They have three children.

Wei Xiaobao makes several seemingly impossible achievements through sheer luck and cunning. Most of the time, he uses despicable and immoral means to accomplish them. Firstly, he assists Kangxi in deposing the cruel and power-hungry aristocrat Oboi and helps Kangxi secure his position as supreme ruler of the empire. Secondly, he discovers the whereabouts of the presumed-dead Shunzhi Emperor and rescues him from danger. Next, he helps Shunzhi reunite with his son, the current Kangxi Emperor. Thirdly, he eliminates the threat of the evil Mystic Dragon Sect by stirring up internal conflict, which eventually leads to the sect's self-destruction. Fourthly, he weakens the rebellion staged by Wu Sangui by cutting off Wu's reinforcements, which allow the Qing army to crush Wu's forces easily. Lastly, he leads the campaign against the Russian Empire and helps Qing China reach a border treaty with Russia. He met the Russian regent Sophia Alekseyevna earlier and helped her establish her rule over Russia. Lastly, Wei is also responsible for recommending several talents to Kangxi, of which the most notable one is Shi Lang, who leads the successful naval campaign against the Kingdom of Tungning.

Throughout the story, Wei exhibits devout loyalty to both Kangxi and the anti-Qing forces. He instinctively shields Kangxi with his body from assassins twice and saves the emperor's life. He plays an important role in assisting Kangxi in securing his rule over the Qing Empire. On the other hand, he helps the anti-Qing forces escape from danger on numerous occasions by distracting the Qing forces. He undermines the attempts by the society on the emperor's life and uses his status in the Imperial Court to prevent the society from being destroyed by Qing forces. For his numerous accomplishments, Wei Xiaobao is rewarded with immense wealth and ever-rising titles of nobility by Kangxi. His highest rank of nobility ever was "Duke of Mount Deer Cauldron" (鹿鼎候) or "Duke of Mount Deer".

Ultimately, Wei Xiaobao's conflicting identities reach a disastrous conclusion. Kangxi discovers Wei's relationship with the society eventually. He forces Wei to choose between him and the society and puts Wei in a dilemma. If Wei Xiaobao chooses to side with the society, he will become an enemy of the state and be forced to turn against Kangxi, whom he regards as a childhood friend and master. If he chooses to follow Kangxi's orders, he will have to eliminate the anti-Qing forces and become a traitor in their eyes. Wei refuses to help Kangxi destroy the society and is forced into exile. However, Kangxi still regards him as a close friend and loyal subject so he pardons Wei and allows him to return to the palace later. Towards the end of the novel, Kangxi tries to force Wei to help him eliminate the anti-Qing forces again. On the other hand, Chen Jinnan had died and the society's members want Wei to be their new leader.

Wei Xiaobao ponders over the issue and realises that he will never be able to reconcile between the two rival parties. He feels that his divided friendships and split loyalties are tearing him apart. He decides to leave and lead a reclusive life away from society, taking with him his immense wealth and family. Wei Xiaobao is never heard of again. It is said that later Kangxi went on inspection tours to Jiangnan to look for Wei Xiaobao but never found him.

Miscellaneous information

Sutra of Forty-two Chapters (四十二章經)

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters is a Buddhist sutra, consisting of eight volumes. When the Manchurians first invaded the Central Plains, they looted large amounts of treasure and transported them to a secret location in the northeast. The map to the location where the treasure is hidden was torn into several pieces and hidden in the eight books separately. Each of the eight books was given to each of the Manchu Eight Banners for safekeeping.

To safeguard the treasure, the heads of the Eight Banners were not told about the treasure vault. Instead, they were told that the books contained a secret which leads to a location containing the "root" of the Manchurian royal bloodline, the Dragon's Vessel (龍脈). If this root is excavated, all Manchurians will die. This is to ensure that none of the nobles will attempt to find this location and instead, guard the treasure with their lives. Only the reigning Qing emperor knows the truth, as evident when the Shunzhi Emperor passes on this knowledge to the Kangxi Emperor.

The books are highly sought after by many, including Hai Dafu, the fake empress dowager Mao Dongzhu, the Mystic Dragon Sect, the Heaven and Earth Society, the former Princess Changping, Wu Sangui and many others. Some of them know the truth about the treasure while others wish to end the Qing Dynasty by destroying the Manchurian "root". Wei Xiaobao collects the eight books and pieces the map together. He finds the treasure inside Mount Deer Cauldron (鹿鼎山) in the Heilongjiang region in the northeast. Although Wei Xiaobao is greedy by nature, he did not excavate the treasure and keep it for himself as he strongly believes the myth about the treasure being the Manchurian royal bloodline's "root".

Literary Inquisition (文字獄)

In the early years of the Kangxi Emperor's reign, Oboi monopolised the power of the empire and introduced the practice of literary inquisition. Many intellectuals and scholars were persecuted for their writings. The Zhuang family of Huzhou compiled a book entitled History of Ming which chronicles the events of the previous Ming Dynasty. As the book uses the Ming Dynasty emperor's title of reign, which is considered taboo, it is reported to the authorities by Wu Zhirong. The Zhuang family was massacred and all of its male members were killed. The incident sparked off a chain-reaction in which many others who were not directly involved or linked to the book were rounded up and executed as well. Among them include innocents who came into contact with the readers, the bookstore owners who sold copies of the book and relatives of the Zhuang family.

Wei Xiaobao's inventory

  • Corpse-eroding powder (化屍粉) – a powder which will turn corpses into dust when sprinkled on. Wei obtained this powder from Hai Dafu when he first entered the palace. This powder helps him in destroying evidence.
  • Sharp dagger – an extremely sharp dagger which can cut through metal as though it were soil and mud. The dagger once belonged to Oboi and came into Wei's possession after Oboi's fall from power. The dagger is used by Wei for self-defence and proves to be a handy weapon which can be concealed easily and yet deadly.
  • Lightweight armour – a piece of light clothing which can prevent sharp weapons from piercing through. The armour once belonged to Oboi and came into Wei's possession after Oboi's fall from power. The armour helps to save Wei's life on numerous occasions.
  • Hansha Sheying (含沙射影) – a mechanical device capable of firing copper needles coated with poison. Wei obtains this device from He Tieshou and it comes in useful for him in paralyzing and disarming enemies.
  • Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters (四十二章經) – a set of eight books which contain a treasure map. Wei obtains these books from various adventures and hunts the treasure.
  • Dice – a set of dice which contain mercury. They help Wei cheat in gambling such that he will win every throw of the dice.

Themes and story review

The Deer and the Cauldron is unique as its protagonist is different from those in Jin Yong's earlier novels. Wei Xiaobao is a greedy, lazy, womanizing anti-hero who is neither a morally upright person nor a highly-skilled pugilist. Jin Yong's other protagonists, such as Guo Jing and Chen Jialuo, live for noble causes such as defending the homeland from foreign invasion and upholding justice. Wei Xiaobao's philosophy in life, conversely, is to indulge in all kinds of sensual delights and pleasures he can lay his hands on. However, although Wei Xiaobao may disagree with his friends' beliefs, he displays genuine loyalty and affection for them.

The non-existence of absolute good and evil in reality is strongly echoed the novel. The pro-Han Chinese nationalistic tone, which has been a prominent feature of most of Jin Yong's previous works, is absent in the novel. In the Condor Trilogy and The Book and the Sword, the other non-Han Chinese ethnic groups such as the Jurchens, Mongolians and Manchus, have always been portrayed as the obvious power-hungry villains who wish to dominate the Central Plains, while the Han Chinese are described as a race constantly facing the threats of foreign invasion and incompetent or corrupt governance.

One exception is Sword Stained with Royal Blood (an unofficial prequel to The Deer and the Cauldron), in which the Manchurian ruler Huangtaiji is portrayed as a wise, just and benevolent ruler while the Han Chinese leaders such as the Chongzhen Emperor and Li Zicheng are described to be covetous, callous, injudicious and easily subject to manipulation.

A similar theme is present in The Deer and the Cauldron, in which Jin Yong has greyed out the traditional Han Chinese vs. barbarians theme. The Kangxi Emperor is depicted as a caring and wise ruler who aims to maximise the welfare of the people under his rule. In contrary, the self-proclaimed "patriotic" anti-Qing resistance forces place their hopes in the incompetent Zheng Keshuang of the Kingdom of Tungning and continue to fight to restore Han Chinese rule to China, a cause which does not seem to echo the wishes of the common people. The style which Jin Yong adopts in the novel is in direct opposition to his stance in some of his earlier novels.

Towards the end of the novel, Wei Xiaobao makes a concluding statement to the effect of "It does not matter whether a cat is black or white. A cat that catches mice is a good cat." (a quote from Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping). The statement reflects the notion that a person's ethnic background is not a determining factor on whether he/she has the right to be a leader. Rather, as long as the person has the best interests of the people at heart, he/she is qualified to lead.

The novel's realism, historical references and parodist approaches to the Wuxia genre contribute to its success, with some fans claiming that it is Jin Yong's best novel.

English language translation

The Deer and the Cauldron has been translated into English by John Minford, published in three volumes from 1997 to 2002. Minford is an Honorary Research Fellow at Lingnan University, Chair Professor of Chinese at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Chair Professor at the University of Auckland, Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Translation Society, and translator of numerous Chinese works, including the famous Chinese work of military strategy, Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and the renowned classic "The Story of the Stone". Several minute details were paraphrased and omitted in the translation, presumably for the western audience unfamiliar with Wuxia novels.

Works based on the novel

There are also books to examine the office-politic skills displayed by the main characters and their modern day applications:

  • 情境鹿鼎记, ISBN 7-80207-108-9
  • 总裁韦小宝, ISBN 7-80673-728-6
  • 破译韦小宝, ISBN 7-5048-4705-4
  • 串烤韦小宝, ISBN 7-80661-929-1
  • 人精韦小宝的混世法宝 ISBN 7-80100-576-7

Adaptations

TV series

Year Production Wei Xiaobao Kangxi Emperor Additional information
1978 CTV (Hong Kong) Wen Hsueh-erh Cheng Sijun
1984 TVB (Hong Kong) Tony Leung Andy Lau See The Duke of Mount Deer (1984 TV series)
1984 CTV (Taiwan) Li Xiaofei Zhou Shaodong
1998 TVB (Hong Kong) Jordan Chan Steven Ma Producer Lee Tim Shing
2000 CTS (Taiwan) Dicky Cheung Patrick Tam See The Duke of Mount Deer (2000 TV series)
2008 CCTV (Mainland China) Huang Xiaoming Wallace Chung See Royal Tramp (TV series)

Films

Year Production Wei Xiaobao Kangxi Emperor Title of adaptation
1983 Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) Wong Yu Gordon Liu Tale Of A Eunuch
1992 Hong Kong Stephen Chow Deric Wan Royal Tramp
1992 Hong Kong Stephen Chow Deric Wan Royal Tramp II
1993 Hong Kong Tony Leung Kent Tong Hero - Beyond the Boundary of Time

Video games

There are also several RPGs of the novel.

  • 鹿鼎記 (智冠) (DOS) (Traditional Chinese)
  • 鹿鼎記 (歡樂盒)
  • 鹿鼎記II

Other games based on the novel:

  • J2ME game for phones:
    • 情圣韦小宝
    • 韦小宝笑传
  • Online games:
    • 金庸群侠传Online

References

  1. ^ a.k.a. Louis Cha

External links


The Deer and the Cauldron  
Author Jin Yong
Original title 鹿鼎記
Country Hong Kong
Language Chinese
Genre(s) Wuxia
Publisher Ming Pao
Publication date 24th October 1969
Media type Print

The Deer and the Cauldron (simplified Chinese: 鹿鼎记; traditional Chinese: 鹿鼎記; Mandarin Pinyin: Lù Dǐng Jì; Jyutping: Luk6 Ding2 Gei3; literally "Tale of the Deer and the Cauldron") or The Duke of Mount Deer is a Wuxia novel by Jin Yong, and also the last of Jin Yong's Wuxia works.

The novel is initially published as a serial, the first installment published on October 24, 1969 in Ming Pao and ran for 2 years and 11 months until September 23, 1972.

Contents

The novel's title

The choice of the novel's title is alluded to in a section in the first chapter, in which a scholar has a conversation with his son.

The scholar recounts that both the deer and the cauldron serve as metaphors for the Central Plains and the Chinese Empire.

It is written in volume 92 of the historical text Book of Han, "The deer lost by Qin was hunted by all under Heavens (《史记•卷九十二》:“秦失其鹿,天下共逐之。” ), an illustration of the rise of numerous rivalling warlords contesting for supremacy to capture the prize, the empire lost by the Qin Dynasty.

During the Zhou Dynasty, there were the Nine Cauldrons, symbolic of the Divine Mandate of rulership. Zuo Zhuan recorded an account where the ruler of the most powerful Chu state enquired the weight of the cauldron from a Zhou minister. This sent a clear signal that he was coveting the rulership of the empire technically possessed by the king of Zhou.

The title refers to the novel's background where the Han Chinese subjects of the fallen Ming Dynasty struggle to restore their former empire by opposing the Manchu-ruled Qing Dynasty.

Characters

  • Wei Xiaobao (韋小寶) – the lazy, illiterate, witty and sly protagonist of the novel. He makes a number of seemingly impossible achievements through sheer luck and wit. He leads his family to Yunnan and lives there ever since his retirement from the Jianghu.
    • Wei Xiaobao's family
  • Kangxi Emperor (康熙皇帝) – the ruler of the Qing Dynasty. He develops a close friendship with Wei Xiaobao in their childhood. He is first known to Wei Xiaobao as "Xiaoxuanzi" (小玄子).
  • Chen Jinnan (陳近南) – the society's leader and a subject of the Kingdom of Tungning. He is murdered by Zheng Keshuang.
  • Hong Antong (洪安通) – the leader of the sect. He is killed during an internal conflict in the sect.
  • Oboi (鳌拜) – a cruel and power-hungry aristocrat. He is removed from power by Wei Xiaobao and the young Kangxi Emperor and imprisoned. He is killed by Wei later.
  • Wu Sangui (吴三桂) – a former subject of the fallen Ming Dynasty. He defects to the Qing Dynasty and is appointed "West Subduing Prince of Yunnan". He stages a rebellion against the Kangxi Emperor later.
  • Zheng Keshuang (鄭克塽) – a grandson of Koxinga. He is the heir to the throne of the kingdom, which is independent of Qing rule. He is incompetent and spoilt by nature. He is the former lover of A'ke and she leaves him after he reveals his true colours. He surrenders to the Qing Dynasty eventually.

Plot

The story centers on a witty, sly, illiterate and lazy protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, who is born in a Yangzhou brothel. The teenage scamp makes his way from Yangzhou to the capital city Beijing through a series of adventures. In Beijing, he is kidnapped and taken to the Forbidden City where he impersonates a eunuch. While in the palace, Wei bumbles his way into a fateful encounter with the young Kangxi Emperor and they develop an unlikely friendship.

Once, Wei is captured by some pugilists and brought out of the palace. He meets Chen Jinnan, the leader of the anti-Qing organisation Heaven and Earth Society, and becomes Chen's disciple. He also becomes one of the society's Lodge Masters and implanted by the society as an "undercover secret agent" inside the palace. He is captured again and brought to Divine Dragon Island, home base of the sinister Mystic Dragon Sect (神龍教). Unexpectedly, he becomes the sect's White Dragon Marshal by flattering the leader Hong Antong and sheer luck. Wei is also a lecherous womaniser and he marries seven beautiful women whom he encounters in different adventures. They have three children.

Wei makes several seemingly impossible achievements through sheer luck and cunning. Most of the time, he uses despicable and immoral means to accomplish them. Firstly, he assists Kangxi in deposing the cruel and power-hungry aristocrat Oboi and helps Kangxi secure his position as supreme ruler of the empire. Secondly, he discovers the whereabouts of the presumed-dead Shunzhi Emperor and rescues him from danger. Next, he helps Shunzhi reunite with his son, the current Kangxi Emperor. Thirdly, he eliminates the threat of the evil Mystic Dragon Sect by stirring up internal conflict, which eventually leads to the sect's self-destruction. Fourthly, he weakens the rebellion staged by Wu Sangui by cutting off Wu's reinforcements, which allow the Qing army to crush Wu's forces easily. Lastly, he leads the campaign against the Russian Empire and helps Qing China reach a border treaty with Russia. He met the Russian regent Sophia Alekseyevna earlier and helped her establish her rule over Russia. Lastly, Wei is also responsible for recommending several talents to Kangxi, of which the most notable one is Shi Lang, who leads the successful naval campaign against the Kingdom of Tungning.

Throughout the story, Wei exhibits devout loyalty to both Kangxi and the anti-Qing forces. He instinctively shields Kangxi with his body from assassins twice and saves the emperor's life. He plays an important role in assisting Kangxi in securing his rule over the Qing empire. On the other hand, he helps the anti-Qing forces escape from danger on numerous occasions by distracting the Qing forces. He undermines the attempts by the society on the emperor's life and uses his status in the Imperial Court to prevent the society from being destroyed by Qing forces. For his numerous accomplishments, Wei is rewarded with immense wealth and ever-rising titles of nobility by Kangxi. His highest rank of nobility ever was "Duke of Mount Deer Cauldron" (鹿鼎候) or "Duke of Mount Deer". He also gained respect from the anti-Qing factions for opposing corrupt politicians and defending China from foreign invaders.

Ultimately, Wei's conflicting identities reach a disastrous conclusion. Kangxi discovers Wei's relationship with the society eventually. He forces Wei to choose between him and the society and puts Wei in a dilemma. If Wei chooses to side with the society, he will become an enemy of the state and be forced to turn against Kangxi, whom he regards as a childhood friend and master. If he chooses to follow Kangxi's orders, he will have to eliminate the anti-Qing forces and become a traitor in their eyes. Wei refuses to help Kangxi destroy the society and is forced into exile. However, Kangxi still regards him as a close friend and loyal subject so he pardons Wei and allows him to return to the palace later. Towards the end of the novel, Kangxi tries to force Wei to help him eliminate the anti-Qing forces again. On the other hand, Chen Jinnan had died and the society's members want Wei to be their new leader.

Wei ponders over the issue and realises that he will never be able to reconcile between the two rival parties. He feels that his divided friendships and split loyalties are tearing him apart. He decides to leave and lead a reclusive life away from society, taking with him his immense wealth and family. Wei is never heard of again. It is said that later Kangxi went on inspection tours to Jiangnan to look for Wei but never found him.

Miscellaneous information

Sutra of Forty-two Chapters (四十二章經)

The Sutra of Forty-two Chapters is a Buddhist sutra. There were originally eight copies. When the Manchus first invaded the Central Plains, they looted large amounts of treasure and transported them to a secret location in northeast China. The map to that location was torn into several pieces and hidden in the eight books separately. Each book was given to one of the Eight Banners for safekeeping.

To protect the treasure, the leaders of the Eight Banners were not told about the treasure vault. Instead, they were told that the books contained a secret leading to a location containing the "root" of the Manchu royal bloodline, the "Dragon's Vessel" (龍脈). If this "root" is excavated, all Manchus will die. This is to ensure that none of the nobles will attempt to find this location and instead, guard the treasure with their lives. Only the reigning emperor knows the truth, as evident when the Shunzhi Emperor passes on this knowledge to the Kangxi Emperor.

The books are highly sought after by many, including Hai Dafu, the fake empress dowager Mao Dongzhu, the Mystic Dragon Sect, the Heaven and Earth Society, the former Princess Changping, Wu Sangui and many others. Some of them know the truth about the treasure while others wish to end the Qing Dynasty by destroying the Manchu "root". Wei Xiaobao collects the eight books and pieces the map together. He finds the treasure at Mount Deer Cauldron (鹿鼎山) in Heilongjiang. Although Wei is greedy by nature, he did not excavate the treasure and keep it for himself as he strongly believes the myth about the treasure being the Manchu royal bloodline's "root".

The eight books

The books are listed in the order of appearance. Their origins and how Wei Xiaobao acquired them are also included.

  • Plain Red Banner - the book is stolen from Prince Kang, leader of the Plain Red Banner. Wei finds it by accident.[1]
  • Bordered Red Banner - Rui Dong, an imperial guard in the palace, kills the leader of the Bordered Red Banner and takes away his book under the orders of the fake empress dowager, Mao Dongzhu. He is killed by Wei (who takes the book) before being able to hand the book in.[2]
  • Bordered Yellow Banner - the book is taken away from Oboi, leader of the Bordered Yellow Banner when he is imprisoned by Kangxi. It lands in the hands of Mao Dongzhu before Wei steals it from her.[2]
  • Plain White Banner - the book is taken away by Oboi from Suksaha, leader of the Plain White Banner when Suksaha is killed by Oboi. It later lands in the hands of Mao Dongzhu, and then in Wei's.[2]
  • Bordered White Banner - the book is first given by the Shunzhi Emperor to Consort Donggo. When Donggo dies, Mao Dongzhu takes it away. It is stolen by Wei later.[2]
  • Plain Yellow Banner - the book is kept by the Shunzhi Emperor after his abdication. He gives it to the Kangxi Emperor. It was taken away by Mao Dongzhu and by Wei later.[3]
  • Bordered Blue Banner - Tao Hongying's grand teacher attempted to steal the book from the leader of the Bordered Blue Banner, but is fatally wounded by the Thin Monk from the Mystic Dragon Sect, who keeps the book. The Thin Monk leaves the book behind in Mao Dongzhu's room by accident when he leaves in a hurry, and Wei takes it.[4]
  • Plain Blue Banner - the book is stolen from the leader of the Plain Blue Banner and ends up in Wu Sangui's possession. Wei replaced it with a Bordered Blue Banner book (with maps concealed within the book removed) without Wu knowing.[5]

Literary inquisition

In the early years of the Kangxi Emperor's reign, Oboi monopolised state power and introduced the practice of literary inquisition. Many intellectuals and scholars were persecuted for their writings. The Zhuang family of Huzhou compiled a book titled History of Ming, which chronicles the events of the Ming Dynasty. As the book uses the Ming emperor's reign title, considered taboo in the Qing Dynasty, it was reported to the authorities by Wu Zhirong. The Zhuang family was massacred and all of its male members killed. The incident also sparked off a chain reaction, in which many others who were not directly involved or linked to the book were rounded up and executed. Among them include innocents, such as those who came into contact with readers, bookstore owners who sold copies of the book, and relatives of the Zhuang family.

Themes and story review

The novel is unique as its protagonist is different from those in Jin Yong's earlier novels. Wei Xiaobao is a greedy, lazy, womanizing anti-hero, and neither a morally upright person nor a highly-skilled pugilist. Jin Yong's other protagonists, such as Guo Jing and Chen Jialuo, live for noble causes, such as defending the homeland from foreign invasion and upholding justice. Wei's philosophy in life, conversely, is to indulge in all kinds of sensual delights and pleasures he can lay his hands on. However, although Wei may disagree with his friends' beliefs, he displays genuine loyalty and affection for them.

The non-existence of absolute good and evil in reality is strongly echoed in the novel. The pro-Han Chinese nationalistic tone, which has been a prominent feature of most of Jin Yong's previous works, is absent in the novel. In the Condor Trilogy and The Book and the Sword, other ethnic groups in China, such as the Jurchens, Mongols and Manchus, have always been portrayed as power-hungry villains who wish to dominate the Central Plains, while the Han Chinese are described as a race constantly facing the threats of foreign invasion and incompetent or corrupt governance.

One exception is Sword Stained with Royal Blood (an unofficial prequel to The Deer and the Cauldron), in which the Manchu ruler Huangtaiji is portrayed as a wise, just and benevolent ruler while Han Chinese leaders such as the Chongzhen Emperor and Li Zicheng are described to be covetous, callous, injudicious and easily subject to manipulation.

A similar theme is present in the novel, in which Jin Yong has greyed out the traditional Han Chinese against barbarians theme. The Kangxi Emperor is depicted as a caring and wise ruler who aims to maximise the welfare of the people under his rule. In contrary, the self-proclaimed "patriotic" anti-Qing resistance forces place their hopes in the incompetent Zheng Keshuang of the Kingdom of Tungning and continue to fight to restore Han Chinese rule to China, a cause which does not seem to echo the wishes of the common people. The style which Jin Yong adopts in the novel is in direct opposition to his stance in some of his earlier novels.

Towards the end of the novel, Wei makes a concluding statement to the effect of "It does not matter whether a cat is black or white. A cat that catches mice is a good cat." (a quote from Deng Xiaoping). The statement reflects the notion that a person's ethnic background is not a determining factor on whether he/she has the right to be a leader. Rather, as long as the person has the best interests of the people at heart, he/she is qualified to lead.

The novel's realism, historical references and parodist approaches to the Wuxia genre contribute to its success, with some fans claiming that it is Jin Yong's best novel.

English language translation

The Deer and the Cauldron has been translated into English by John Minford, published in three volumes from 1997 to 2002. Several minute details were paraphrased and omitted in the translation.

Works based on the novel

There are also books to examine the office-politic skills displayed by the main characters and their modern day applications:

Adaptations

Films

Year Production Wei Xiaobao Kangxi Emperor Additional information
1983 Shaw Brothers Studio (Hong Kong) Wong Yue Gordon Liu See Tale of a Eunuch
1992 Hong Kong Stephen Chow Deric Wan See Royal Tramp
See Royal Tramp II
1993 Hong Kong Tony Leung Kent Tong See Hero - Beyond the Boundary of Time
2004 Hong Kong Cheung Tat-ming N/A Chinese title 盜帥留香韋小寶

TV series

Year Production Wei Xiaobao Kangxi Emperor Additional information
1978 CTV (Hong Kong) Wen Hsueh-erh Cheng Si-chun
1984 TVB (Hong Kong) Tony Leung Andy Lau See The Duke of Mount Deer (1984 TV series)
CTV (Taiwan) Li Hsiao-fei Chou Shao-tung See The Duke of Mount Deer (CTV)
1998 TVB (Hong Kong) Jordan Chan Steven Ma See The Duke of Mount Deer (1998 TV series)
2000 Co-production Dicky Cheung Patrick Tam See The Duke of Mount Deer (2000 TV series)
2008 Mainland China Huang Xiaoming Wallace Chung See Royal Tramp (TV series)

Video games

Computer RPGs:

  • 鹿鼎記 (智冠) (DOS) (Traditional Chinese)
  • 鹿鼎記 (歡樂盒)
  • 鹿鼎記II
  • Heroes of Jin Yong Online (金庸群侠传 Online)

Java ME games for mobile phones:

  • 情圣韦小宝
  • 韦小宝笑传

References

External links


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