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The Scholars, by Wu Jingzi
儒林外史 (作者:吴敬梓)
Rúlín Wàishǐ (zuòzhě: Wú Jìngzǐ)


The Scholars, by Wu Jingzi (吳敬梓), is a Qing dynasty novel about scholars and officials in Imperial China. Although it was written in 1750, it is written in a vernacular style which makes it much more understandable than the classical Chinese usually used in 18th century writing. The novel is structured as a series of loosely-linked short stories, meaning that each chapter can be read on its own.


While reading this book, you can click the 'show translation' links to see the English translation of each paragraph, or highlight text to instantly see its definition in the "quick nciku" floating dictionary area. You can also quickly switch between modern Simplified Chinese characters and the Traditional Chinese form the book was originally written in.


Chapter 1: In which an introductory story of a good scholar points the moral of the book
Chapter 2: Provincial Graduate Wang meets a fellow candidate in a village school. Chou Chin passes the examination in his old age
Chapter 3: Examiner Chou picks out true talent. Butcher Hu cuts up rough after good news
Chapter 4: In which a monk invited to say masses is involved in a lawsuit, and a country gentleman out to raise money runs into trouble
Chapter 5: The Wang brothers deliberate how to make a concubine of the mistress of the house. Yen Ta-yu dies
Chapter 6: A gentleman's illness confounds his boatmen. An injured widow accuses her brother-in-law
Chapter 7: Examiner Fan examines the list of candidates to repay his patron's kindness. Secretary Wang in the Ministry of Works shows kindness to a friend
Chapter 8: In which Wang Hui meets a friend in need, and the Lou brothers come upon a poor acquaintance
Chapter 9: The Lou brothers redeem a friend. Second Captain Liu assumes a false name to intimidate boatmen
Chapter 10: Compiler Lu chooses a brilliant son-in-law, and Chu Hsien-fu marries into a rich family
Chapter 11: Chu Hsien-fu's wife embarrasses him by asking him for an essay, and Instructor Yang recommends a man of worth to the prime minister's household
Chapter 12: In which famous scholars feast at Oriole-Throat Lake, and a swordsman calls with a human head
Chapter 13: Chu Hsien-fu consults a worthy man about the examinations. Ma Chun-shang puts his money at the service of a friend
Chapter 14: In which Chu Hsien-fu sees a friend off from the bookshop, and Ma Chun-shang meets an immortal in a mountain cave
Chapter 15: Ma Chun-shang attends the funeral of an immortal, and Kuang Chao-jen proves himself a filial son
Chapter 16: A good son waits upon his father in Big Willow Village. A good magistrate encourages a poor scholar in Yuehching County
Chapter 17: Kuang Chao-jen revisits his old haunts. Dr. Chao ranks high among the poets
Chapter 18: Famous scholars invite Kuang Chao-jen to a poetical meeting. Pan Number Three calls on a friend in a bookshop
Chapter 19: In which Kuang Chao-jen finds a good friend and Pan Number Three comes to grief
Chapter 20: Kuang Chao-jen meets good fortune in the capital. Niu Pu-yi dies far from home at Wuhu
Chapter 21: An ambitious youth takes a false name. An old man who misses his friend falls ill
Chapter 22: In which Niu Yu-fu adopts a grandnephew and Wan Hsueh-chai entertains guests
Chapter 23: The poet who discloses a secret is beaten, and a widow looks for her husband
Chapter 24: Niu Pu is involved in a lawsuit, and Pao Wen-ching goes back to his old trade
Chapter 25: Pao Wen-ching meets an old acquaintance in Nanking and Ni Ting-hsi finds a bride in Anching
Chapter 26: After receiving promotion, Prefect Hsiang mourns for a friend. After his father's death, Pao Ting-hsi marries a wife
Chapter 27: In which Mrs. Wang quarrels with her husband, and Ni Ting-chu finds his brother
Chapter 28: Chi Wei-hsiao takes a second wife in Yangchow. Hsiao Chin-hsuan compiles a book in Nanking
Chapter 29: Chu-ko Tien-shen meets a friend in the priory, and Tu Shen-ching takes a concubine in Nanking
Chapter 30: In which a lover of handsome youths seeks a friend at Divine Pleasure Temple, and a splendid contest is held at Carefree
Chapter 31: Visitors call on a gallant in Tienchang County. Good friends drink wine in Tu Shao-ching's library
Chapter 32: In which are described the gallant deeds of Tu Shao-ching, and the last words of Mr. Lou
Chapter 33: Wherein Tu Shao-ching and his wife take a pleasure trip, and Chih Heng-shan discusses ceremony with his friends
Chapter 34: Scholars meet to speak of music and ceremony. The emperor summons a talented man
Chapter 35: The Son of Heaven consults a worthy man, but Chuang Shao-kuang declines all posts and goes home
Chapter 36: A true Confucian is born in Changshu County. A worthy man becomes Master of Ceremonies in the Temple of Tai Po
Chapter 37: Through sacrifice to an ancient sage, scholars revive the old ceremony in Nanking. A filial son is seen off by his friends to search for his father in Szechuan
Chapter 38: Kuo Tieh-shan encounters tigers in the mountain. A monk from Sweet Dew Temple meets his foe
Chapter 39: Hsiao Yun-hsien saves a man on Bright Moon Ridge. Marshal Ping triumphs at Green Maple City
Chapter 40: Hsiao Yun-hsien enjoys the snow on Kwangwu Mountain. Shen Chiung-chih sells her poems at Lucky Crossing Bridge
Chapter 41: Chuang Cho-chiang talks of old times at Chinhuai River. Shen Chiung-chih is taken under arrest to Yangchow
Chapter 42: Young gentlemen discuss the examinations in a brothel. A servant brings news from the Miao regions
Chapter 43: The brigade general fights a battle at Wild Goat Pool, and a chieftain raids the camp at the dancing ground
Chapter 44: His work accomplished, Brigade General Tang goes home. Senior Licentiate Yu discusses burial customs at a feast
Chapter 45: In which Yu Yu-chung takes the blame for his brother. They bury their parents and speak of geomancy
Chapter 46: Talented men bid farewell at Three Mountains Gate. The people of Wuho are blinded by profit and power
Chapter 47: Licentiate Yoo repairs Yuanwu Pavilion. Salt Merchant Fang shocks scholars at the enshrining of virtuous women
Chapter 48: A virtuous widow of Huichow follows her husband to the grave. Later scholars admire the old ways at Tai Po's Temple
Chapter 49: A Hanlin discourses on the examinations. An impostor masquerades as an official
Chapter 50: A bogus official is put to shame. A champion procures official rank for a friend
Chapter 51: A young woman tricks a man into losing his money. A hero undergoes torture willingly
Chapter 52: A young man is wounded in an athletic contest. A hero tears down a house to collect a debt
Chapter 53: A guest is entertained one snowy night at the palace. A girl has an unlucky dream at Welcome Pavilion
Chapter 54: A beautiful invalid has her fortune told in a bawdy house. A foolish scholar offers poems to a courtesan
Chapter 55: In which four new characters are introduced to link the past with the present, and the story ends with an epilogue


The translation we used was created by Yang Hsien-yi (Yang Xianyi; 杨宪益) and Gladys Yang, and is now in the Public Domain. Please note that this translation uses the old Wade-Giles spellings for names and places instead of the modern Pinyin system.


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