The Scholars

The Scholars

The Scholars

The Scholars

Excerpt

Wu Tsu-hsiang

The long and glorious tradition of classical realist literature in China was carried forward in the middle of the eighteenth century by two outstanding novelists -- Tsao Hsueh- chin , author of The Dream of the Red Chamber, and Wu Ching-tzu , author of The Scholars.

Although Wu Ching-tzu was born some twenty years earlier than Tsao Hsueh-chin, The Scholars and The Dream of the Red Chamber were written during the same period. Chinese feudalism, the development of which had long been retarded, was in a state of decline. Several decades had passed since the invasion of the Manchus, who by military might and political measures had gradually consolidated their rule. The peasant revolts and risings against the Manchus of the early years of the Ching Dynasty had been suppressed. The people led a wretched life, and the contradictions in society were sharply reflected in the conflict within the ruling class itself. Ruling cliques, growing ever more corrupt and spiritually bankrupt, were fighting among themselves.

Both Tsao Hsueh-chin and Wu Ching-tzu were born into ruling class families which had come down in the world. With deep insight into the rottenness and hopelessness of their class, each made use of what he himself had seen and experienced to paint a great canvas. Tsao took marriage as his central theme, to reflect the vices of the aristocratic ruling class which was nearly played out. Wu wrote of officials and ex-

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