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The Scholars

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  134 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Subtitled: The Unofficial History of the World of the Literati, this classic novel, written in the Chinese vernacular and published around 1750, is Wu Ching-Tzu's account of many friends (and enemies), academics all, who struggle to cope with the burdens of a Confucian society and the difficulties of the Civil Service Exam. It's book that appeals in every era. Under Mao, t ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Silk Pagoda (first published 1750)
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Aug 30, 2011 Hadrian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, china
The Scholars, I was told, was a vernacular novel which satirized the Chinese imperial examination system - a rigid, fiendishly difficult essay test used by the government to staff the civil service system.

The book gently lampoons the examination itself and how it promotes rigid regurgitation of knowledge instead of anything that would be useful for running a country. There's also the problem of superstitions and cheats, phony teachers who claim to sell the packaged answers, and intelligent and
Jan 18, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, humor, mooc, china
A satire of the Chinese imperial examination system in the 18th century Qing Dynasty and of the literati it produced. The examination system goes back to 200 AD and continued to 1911. Chinese officials in all that time were drawn almost exclusively from the ranks of those few who passed. The odds were 3300 to 1 of passing the highest rank in the Qing Dynasty. There were 9 levels and even those who failed or passed the lowest rank were respected elites. The subject matter always included the Conf ...more
Depending on who you ask, there are either four or six so-called “Classic” Chinese novels. I strongly doubt that canon formation works any better in China than it does here and that the Eastern Canon is any more reliable than the Western one, so there are likely a considerable number of less famous novels which are at least as good as those four or six – but for someone who has only a very superficial knowledge of China and almost no experience of Chinese literature, those four or six are probab ...more
Oct 28, 2014 Wendy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a Chinese and we have one or two pieces of The Scholars in our textbooks in junior high. But I did not have any feelings about this book at that time. Only this year, I started reading the whole version. It turns out that I like The Scholars very much. The figure that impresses me the most is the young scholar named Kuang Chaoren or Kuang Chao-Jen (it means 'superman'), who was very poor at the very beginning and worked really hard to make a better life for his parents. It is the typical mo ...more
Jan 04, 2014 Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a great deal, but I don't know anyone I would recommend it to. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who wasn't already familiar with Chinese history and intellectual discourse through to the Qing Dynasty.
Nguyễn Quang Vũ
Rất nể Mr. Ngô Kính Tử nên mình vote 3 sao cho bộ này. Không phải do Mr ấy viết không hay, hay người dịch có vấn đề gì. Vấn đề chính là ở cách thể hiện các tuyến nhân vật của tác phẩm làm mình mệt. Hơn 200 nhân vật trong khoảng 1000 trang sách, không nhân vật nào là nhân vật chính cả. Câu chuyện của các nhân vật nối qua nhau một cách quá đơn giản và nhanh đến mức mình chưa kịp nhớ câu chuyện của nhân vật trước thì đã đến chuyện của nhân vật sau.

Cùng với Tứ Đại Kỳ Thư thì Nho Lâm Ngoại Sử cũng c
Mar 01, 2013 Helmut rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Satirisches Sittengemälde

Das "Rulin Waishi" hat in der Literaturgeschichte Chinas sehr unterschiedliche Bewertungen erhalten. Wurde es zunächst als brilliante Satire der korrupten Bildungselite gesehen, litt man es später immer weniger, da die literarische Qualität hinter den großen klassichen Romanwerken der Ming- und Qing-Dynastie doch zurückblieb. Heute wiederum sieht man es hauptsächlich als unschätzbare Quelle für das Leben der gebildeten und in der Prüfungshölle Chinas mehr oder weniger er
Francis Chin
Jul 12, 2016 Francis Chin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This volume is just a collection of meandering tales, with no central plot or main characters. As current characters meet new characters, the narrative will start following the new characters and the old ones are forgotten. Extremely engrossing and addictive. All kinds of incidents take place and you never know what is going to happen next. One morning you're admiring the view of a famous lake, and in the afternoon you are in court because someone has accused you of murder, and tomorrow you will ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting insights into Ming Dynasty China.
Hubert Byron
Feb 09, 2013 Hubert Byron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the companion piece to The Story of the Stone series where instead of being immersed into the lives of women in Imperial China, you see it from the side of the men.
Nguyễn Quang Vũ
Review ngắn của mình để ở Tập 2 :D
Edward Butler
Sep 08, 2008 Edward Butler rated it it was amazing
This 18th century Chinese classic (in Chinese, the Rulin Waishi) is a novel whose protagonist is, in effect, an institution, namely the civil service examination system. The novel's form perfectly suits its subject, passing the narrative from character to character, tracing the webs of association and patronage that constitute the class of the literati, or scholar-bureaucrats, as well as those on its fringes, who aspire to join it by passing the exams, deliberately spurn membership in it despite ...more
Andra Constantin
A collection of fables and stories about the character of the scholars and learned people of China in the 1500's.
Hard to follow the characters if you are unused to the Chinese names especially since in the book there are over 20 Chi and Yu as characters in various stories and not all of them from the same family.

The first volume seems to be just a collection of fables following various scholars - corrupted scholars and honest scholars, rich scholars and poor scholars - their good or bad deeds,
Jul 14, 2016 Rosemary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rare opportunity to read a Chinese novel from the Qing dynasty in English translation. (Not too many of them around.) For those of Chinese heritage, a chance to see why scholarship and examinations are so culturally important, a look at the role of food in the daily lives of the literary scholars--we are still eating some of the same things, a look at aspects of daily life such as transportation (river boats were important), pawn shops. Makes me wish for some pictures or paintings to give the ...more
Dylan Suher
Jul 12, 2013 Dylan Suher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In structure and in narrative viewpoint, an odd book, and a wonderful book for being odd, possessed with the rare flexibility of being able to effectively, viciously savage a system of values in one section, and redeem those very values in the next section. A structure that therefore makes that most uncommon and correct statement that just because a philosophy is taken advantage of by the worst people doesn't mean that it isn't worth believing in. A narrative reticence, akin to a Henry James nov ...more
Nov 06, 2015 Trounin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Может это мы не видим рядом с собой замечательных людей. Кто-то другой их примечает и о них рассказывает. В труде всей своей жизни У Цзинцзы рассказывал о самом наболевшем. Вся книга состоит из историй разных героев, судьба каждого из которых складывалась разным образом, в зависимости от того, как они относились к государственным экзаменам. Есть среди них погрязшие в коррупции, а есть и светлые люди. Читателю надо приготовиться увидеть Китай с новой стороны. И посмотреть есть на что. Чего только ...more
Yilin Wong
Jun 17, 2015 Yilin Wong rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite

人情冷暖 性格命运

这本书居然活活读了大半年 也是醉了

02/17 page 0 "堪堪读到一半 已经把前面忘得一干二净了。。。。不过人真是虚伪。。。"
03/11 page 0 "文字版的清明上河图"
03/17 70.0% "画风突变有点要走武侠路线的意思。。。"
03/23 70.0% "从少侠一下便成了萧老先生了(;・∀・)"
03/24 77.0% "感觉第一部分还是适合选读,印象比较深的是那个好像住河边干啥啥不行却被奉为贤士和狼心狗肺的俩个人比较印象深。第二部分更值得通读,感觉故事普遍都比较抓人,画风和前半部分不一样,却内里也不是一味都是讲一类人。就是至今为止读到的两个干实事的人却被罚款降职,而且这故事至今还有代表性,读起来感觉很不是滋味。"
03/26 81.0% "感觉从古至今中外的academia path都差不多 读博读n多年 然后出来寻馆找post doc"
03/26 87.0% "讲学问的只讲学问,不必问功名;讲功名的只讲功名,不必问学问。若是两样都要讲,弄到后来,一样也做不成。-- 迟衡山

update 10/13
Oct 06, 2015 Philip rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an exceedingly interesting view of 15th century scholars as told from the perspective of an 18th century scholar. It is a subtle critique of the Confucian system and provides a fascinating window into Chinese sensibilities.
Shala Howell
Decadence, check. Relentless scorn for literati, check. But what strikes me most is that even in feudal China, success in life was all about who you knew.
Aug 24, 2010 siby rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
so far the only Chinese book I did not like. honestly I could not even finish it. if there is any plot in it I've missed it by a mile.
Annmarie rated it really liked it
Jan 23, 2013
Cynthia rated it really liked it
Jul 07, 2014
Addison Hart
Addison Hart rated it liked it
Feb 03, 2013
Herve rated it liked it
Sep 12, 2015
Lora rated it it was amazing
Feb 18, 2011
Veronika rated it it was amazing
Jul 05, 2016
Thomas Wang
Thomas Wang rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2014
Daniel rated it really liked it
Feb 09, 2017
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Wu Jingzi (simplified Chinese: 吴敬梓; traditional Chinese: 吳敬梓; pinyin: Wú Jìngzǐ; Wade–Giles: Wu Ching-tse, 1701—January 11, 1754) was a Chinese scholar and writer who was born in the city now known as Chuzhou, Anhui and who died in Yangzhou, Jiangsu.

(from Wikipedia)
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