Shortly before his death in 2001, a Dragon Master in the ancient art of Shaolin Chan Kung-Fu leaves a collection of his private papers in the safekeeping of a favoured student. The Master instructs the student to use these papers, or “diaries”, to write an account of the aims and ideals of the art to which he had devoted his life. But when the student sets out to compose a manifesto based on the Master’s words, he discovers that the diaries contain a further, personal narrative that draws us relentlessly towards a shocking act of violence and a destructive erotic obsession that call the principles of the manifesto itself radically into question. As the student struggles to understand the message of the diaries, he must find a way to interpret the disturbing contradiction between the Master’s ideals and his actual experience.
The Dragon Master is of Anglo-French Canadian and Hong Kong Chinese descent, and his trusted student is English. The diaries record events in Montreal, Hong Kong, London, Paris, and the United States, and are influenced by the upheavals of World War II, the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, and the Chinese civil war. Against this varied and tumultuous background, the relevance for the modern West of an ancient Asian martial arts tradition is brought vividly to life, impressive in its power, beauty, and challenging complexity.
This book is an authoritative and captivating re-vision of traditional martial arts culture for a postmodern, globalised world. Unconventional in form yet luminously written; theoretically sophisticated yet humane and wise. A compelling book, deeply knowledgeable and richly illuminating.
Patrick Grant writes the foreword for this anonymous author and is Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria in Canada. He was educated at Queen’s University in Belfast and has published seventeen books across varying topics including religion, English renaissance and art. Patrick has won a number of awards including the Isaac Walton Killiam Senior Research Scholarship and the Craigdarroch Gold Medal.