Born 1701 in Anhwei Province; died 1754 in Yangzhou. Chinese humanist writer.
Wu Ching-tzu opposed the foreign Manchu dynasty. He renounced a career as an official and in 1734 moved to Nanking, where he lived in poverty. He wrote the satirical novel An Unofficial History of the Literati (published 1803; Russian translation, 1959), which attacked the entire ruling class. Wu Ching-tzu depicted the degradation of the arrogant bureaucrats who were in positions of power; he favored a search for individual self-perfection conducted in the spirit of a revitalized Confucianism. His ideal society as portrayed in the novel was rationally organized and was similar to an enlightened monarchy. The positive heroes of An Unofficial History of the Literati include representatives of the ancient Confucian morality, members of the new generation who long for freedom of the spirit, ordinary people, and independent “new women.” Most of the novel’s negative characters are individualized, whereas the positive characters serve chiefly as mouthpieces for the author’s ideas. An Unofficial History of the Literati is to a great extent conventional in form, but at the same time it has highly complex characters and is free of traditional verse insertions and authorial sermonizing.
Wu Ching-tzu also wrote poetry, other works of fiction, and commentaries on the Shih Ching (Book of Songs).
REFERENCESFishman, O. L. Kitaiskii satiricheskii roman. Moscow, 1966. Pages 71–106.
Lu Hsun. A Brief History of Chinese Fiction. Peking, 1959. Pages 288–97.
I. S. LISEVICH