Fan Jin is awoken by Butcher Hu slapping him

The Scholars, written by Qing dynasty novelist Wu Jingzi (1701-1754), contains a series of short satirical stories about intellectuals struggling with the imperial civil service examination, the only way to a worldly success.

Fan Jin’s story is particularly well known as it is featured in school textbooks. The scholar had spent almost all of his life studying for the civil service exam without success. A poor old man, he was therefore despised by his father-in-law Butcher Hu. Fan eventually passes the provincial exam, which completely changes his status, securing his place as an official in the upper rank. Overexcited upon hearing this news, Fan suddenly starts acting strangely. In this painting, Fan (upper middle) is awoken by a slap on his face from Butcher Hu (lower right), who regrets that he just slapped ‘the God of Literature descending to the world’.

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