孔乙己 (Kŏng Yĭjĭ) is a famous short story by Lŭ Xùn, and the third of four in our theme week. Another tragedy!
The titular character Kŏng Yĭjĭ ironically shares a last name with the great Confucius – yet he’s no great scholar. He has failed the imperial civil service examinations again and again, and although he’s among the few people in the town who can read at all, everybody still laughs at him. He steals to survive.
He tries to talk with the kids in town because no one else takes him seriously, but they laugh like everybody else.
One day Kŏng Yĭjĭ gets caught for stealing, and he’s beaten so hard he breaks his legs. He drags himself to the tavern, orders one last bowl of warm wine, and is never seen again.
The story is a criticism of the unforgiving treatment of intellectuals in rural communities, exemplifying Lŭ Xùn’s anti-traditionalism.
Maybe tomorrow will be less sad? Baidu Baike