The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants
The Tale of Loyal Heroes and Righteous Gallants (忠烈俠義傳), also known by its 1883 reprint title The Three Heroes and Five Gallants (三俠五義), is an 1879 Chinese novel based on storyteller Shi Yukun's oral performances. The novel was later revised by philologist Yu Yue and republished in 1889 under the title The Seven Heroes and Five Gallants (七俠五義), with the story essentially unaltered.
Set in 11th-century Song dynasty, the story detailed the rise of legendary judge Bao Zheng to high office, and how a group of youxia (knights-errant)—each with exceptional martial talent and selfless heroism—helped him fight crimes, oppression, corruption and rebellion. It was one of the first novels to merge the gong'an (court-case fiction) and the wuxia (chivalric fiction) genres.
Praised for its humorous narration and vivid characterizations, the novel has enjoyed huge readership: it spawned two dozen sequels by 1924 (according to Lu Xun) and served as the thematic model of allegedly over 100 novels in the late Qing dynasty. Even in the modern era, the tales have been continuously reenacted in popular cultural mediums, including oral storytelling, operas, films and TV dramas.
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