Chinese novelist and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Zhengzhou University Ling Jiefang – known by his penname Eryuehe – died early this morning at the age of 73.
Publishing his first work in 1986, Eryuehe was most famous for his Emperor Series, comprising The Great Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Yongzheng, and Emperor Qianlong. Due to widespread piracy, there are no accurate statistics of how many copies of the books have been sold, but it is said to have surpassed 10 million.
The three novels were all adapted into popular TV series broadcast at the end of 1990s and start of the 2000s, starring famous Chinese actors and actresses such as Chen Daoming, Tang Guoqiang, and Siqin Gaowa.
They tell the stories of the three-generation emperors, Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), under whose reins the country prospered while being confronted with problems such as corruption, rivalry among royal siblings jostling for power, invasions, and territory disputes.
Thanks to his vivid and profound description of the shocking corruption of the Qing Dynasty, Eryuehe was often regarded as an “expert of anti-corruption”. In 2014, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection invited him as the first guest speaker for its online program Listen to Masters .
Due to eye diseases caused by diabetes, in recent years Eryuehe was unable to read or write for long periods, but he kept speaking on anti-corruption. As a historical novelist, he was sensitive to many social problems, corruption in particular.
"I would think about the social phenomena that I observed and use my influence to make my contribution to the solutions," he said in an interview.
He observed that corruption did not only exist among the rich and the powerful, but also had become a universal social phenomenon as a consequence of consumerism.
The solution to corruption lied in home education, he said.
"Read books and newspapers carefully, and learn to live well," he said.
Impressions of Ling Jiefang
--Senior political leader Wang Qishan in 2014 praised Ling for his works.
In 2015, People’s Publishing House launched a collection of Ling’s essays and excerpts from his novels, entitled Er Yue He on Anti-corruption.
Ling used to say, "The depth of the country’s anti-corruption right now, is nothing we could find in the Twenty-four Histories (meaning, throughout the Chinese history)."
--As to the reasons behind Ling's successful career, Henan-based writer Chen Lumin recalled a conversation with Ling a decade ago. "He said he was not that talented, but the time was right and he was lucky. He said that writing is very labor-intensive. If one writes for more than 10 hours every day, and keeps at it for 20 years, he/she will make some achievements too."
--Dou Yuesheng with Nanyang Daily (the newspaper is published in the city where Ling lived), who knew Ling since the 1980s, says unlike some others writers, Ling charged for his autograph, but he donated all the money to charity programs.
--In 2005, when Ling was 60 and Jin Yong (penname of Louis Cha Leung Yung) was 81, they had a chance to meet at an event in Shenzhen.
Jin Yong praised Ling as the first writer to portray Emperor Yong Zheng’s positive images and thus somehow changed Chinese readers’ views on the emperor.
And Jin Yong said that from reading Ling’s works, he believes Ling was a typical Northern guy, generous and forthright, humorous and kind-hearted.