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The Scholars I, II & III

  • scholars
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The Scholars I II III
Written by Wu Jingzi (Wu Ching-Tzu, 1751? -)
Translated by Yang Xiany and Gladys Yang
Library of Chinese Classics Chinese-English edition, hardcover, library binding, 1308 pages.

An eighteenth-century satire, the Scholars is outstanding among Chinese classic novels. The author mercilessly exposes the decadence of the literati produced by the feudal examination system, the disastrous effects of that institution, the corruption of the feudal regime, and the darkness of the feudal society. The Scholars described the life and spirit of literati and officialdom in the late period of feudal China. They receive the poison of the civil service examination system, being puzzled by officialdom, wealth and fame. The author took the analysis of the enslaved scholar's ugly soul under the civil service examination as the point of departure, satirized the officialdoms of muddleheaded and incompetent, the despotic landlord of greedy and mean; Made public the ignorance of the celebrity student, lustful desires, the dishonesty and base of landlords and merchants mingle with men of letters and pose as a lover of culture; Sneered at the aspect of worldly affairs following upon success or failure in the civil service examination system. This is a live drawing of literati and officialdom being reckless with the merit and fame, infatuate with the civil service examination. The Scholars has no a leading role that pierce through the around the book. It consists of a numerous short stories, therefore it broadly reflected various levels of social life in feudal China.

This book came to the high peak of the satiric art in the field of Chinese classic novel with its broad topics, generous contents, clear and fluent language, bright and vivid style of writing. It made a great impact on other novels such as The Exposure of Official Circle, 20-Year Witness of Strange Phenomena, etc.

The English translation of the 55-chapter edition is that of Yang Xianyi (Hsien-yi) and Gladys Yang, which may be at present a complete English translation closest to the original work. The Yangs are also the translators of the most famous Chinese classic novel A Dream of Red Mansions.

satiric novel

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