Overseas presence of Chinese online literature growing

By Ji Yuqiao Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/19 18:43:43

Promotional material for The Untamed Photo: IC

A report on the development of the Chinese online literature - in 2019 published on Tuesday noted that the overseas presence of Chinese online literature has been growing and more works are finding their way into the hands of foreign readers.

More than 455 million Chinese netizens read online literature in 2019, accounting for more than 50 percent of the total number of Chinese netizens, the industry report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said.

The report also said that online literature has been the "fountainhead" of the cultural industry as several excellent online literature works with a large number of fans have been adapted into TV dramas and films such as hit 2019 TV series The Untamed.

Online literatary works accounted for half of the top 20 most-liked Chinese intellectual properties overseas, said the report.

More than 11.7 million Chinese online literatary works and over 7.8 million writers have laid a solid foundation for their popularity overseas, it said.

According to statistics from Webnovel, an online literature platform for non-Chinese languages established by a Chinese company, more than 40,000 comments appear on the platform each day.

The Untamed is a successful example of an online novel franchise. The hit TV series adapted by Tencent Pictures was based on MoDaoZuShi, a romance novel that follows the adventures of two male soulmates who travel around to solve a series of murder mysteries.

The online novel already had a huge fan base before the release of the TV series, which is one of main reasons behind the success of the drama.

The novel has been translated into other languages and can be read on some foreign websites. It has a rating of 4.65/5 on goodreads.com, and according to comments on the website, lots of foreign readers have asked where they can read the translated version.

"I think the most successful part of The Untamed is that the scriptwriters did adapt the online novel casually, the drama actually portrays many of the classic plots from the novel," an employee at Tencent Pictures surnamed Feng, who is also a fan of MoDaoZuShi, told the Global Times on Wednesday. The Untamed aired on Tencent Video in 2019 summer.

Feng said that many online novels have fantastic storylines and clear narrative sequences, which are the reasons why these works have drawn in readers from both home and abroad. 

"Sometimes the ideas and writing styles of these online literature writers leave me stunned," she said.

The report noted that more younger writers, some born after 1995, have entered the field, bringing more novel themes to online literature.

Favorable national policies also have provided guidance and helped China's online literature improve in quality, said the report.


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