You are here > Home > Quick Navigation > Literature > Fiction

Wu Jingzi And The Scholars

Wu JingZi (1701 -1754), author of The Scholars and The Complete Collection of Wenmu was a native of Quanjiao County in Anhui Province. He was born into a distinguished family and grew up under the tutelageof Confucian thought. After his family lost its fortune he was forced tolead a life of poverty, but this also provided him with a chance to livewith common people and observe the conditions at the lower levels ofsociety, as well as the evils generated by the rigid examination system.He wrote the outstanding satirical novel The Scholars in his later years.

The Scholars faithfully mirrors the realities of feudal society. Throughvivid description of the impudence of a group of feudal scholars, scholar-officials and urban ruffians, the novel exposes the decadence of thedeclining feudal system and attacks the vicious examination system.Moreover, it also criticizes the corrupt political system and social morals,hence the entire feudal system. Therefore The Scholars is deemed as aclassic with progressive demoncratic ideas. The novel portrays, with asatirical tone, a series of despicable literati living at the end of feudalsociety: the psychopathic Fan Jin, who was almost driven to mad by theexamination system; the ungrateful Kuang Chaoren, who was once apoor intellectual but later deserted his wife who had endured a lot ofsuffering for him; and Yan Gongsheng who lived by cheating and robbingpeople. These characters are the earliest and most impressive archetypesof Chinese satirical literature. The novel also depicts many commonpeople who live in the bottom of the society, in ways which express theauthor's great sympathy for their bitter lives and praise for their simpleand honest characters and marvelous talents. The upright Wang Mian,the honest Bao Wenqing, and the down-to-earth, unsophisticated oldfarmers Grandpa Niu and Grandpa Bu, are notable characters of thiscategory.

The Scholars is a masterpiece among Chinese satirical literature.The author excels at using common plots to expose social conflicts. Thelanguage of the novel is vivid, terse and accurate. The Scholars iscomposed of a series of independent short stories, which are, at thesame time, interrelated with each other. The unique structure of thisnovel has exerted a far-reaching influence on writers in later periods.The Scholars represents the height of the Chinese classical satirical novel.

Quick Navigation

New Article