Hong Kong novelist Louis Cha Leung-yung – who wrote The Legend of the Condor Heroes and is better known by his pen name Jin Yong – will be adding another doctorate to his long list of scholarly and literary achievements, said mainland media reports.
Peking University told the Beijing Youth Daily on Tuesday that the renowned writer of wuxia martial arts novels from the 1960s-80s had been pursuing a doctorate in Chinese literature there since September 2009 and had recently completed his thesis.
Professor Chen Pingyuan, a former dean at the university’s Department of Chinese Language and Literature, confirmed to media that Cha, 89, had been a doctoral candidate at the department.
However, he said Cha did not have to attend classes there and had no information as to when the writer was scheduled to graduate.
Cha’s mentor was Yuan Xingpei, head of the Communist Party-affiliated Central Research Institute of Culture and History, Chen said.
A photo of Cha’s diploma, dated July 2013 complete with the institution’s seal and signature of university president Wang Enge, was published on social networking site Renren this week. Its authenticity could not be confirmed.
Cha earned a doctoral degree in oriental studies from Cambridge University in 2010 after completing his thesis on Tang dynasty imperial succession.
Cha, who co-founded Hong Kong daily Ming Pao, recently had his 1957 martial arts classic The Legend of the Condor Heroes added to the required reading list for primary school students in Beijing.
Cha’s literary works, many of which contain themes of chivalry, martial arts and patriotism, are among the most widely read in the Chinese-speaking world and have been translated into many languages.
Legend, the first instalment of the Condor trilogy, is widely considered to be one the writer’s best work along with other titles such as The Book and the Sword (1955) and The Deer and the Cauldron (1969).
Some of Cha’s works were banned on the mainland during the 1970s because they were thought to mock Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution. Ironically, Taiwan once banned his novels as well, billing them pro-Communist literature. Most of the bans were gone by the 1980s.