Rulin waishi and Cultural Transformation in Late Imperial China. By SHANG WEI. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph Series, no. 59. Cambridge, Mass.: HARVARD UNIVERSITY ASIA CENTER, 2003. Pp. 356. $40. Of the six lengthy Chinese fictional narratives classified as "classic," the eighteenth-century Rulin waishi (a.k.a. The Scholars) has attracted the attention of modern critics beyond its original popularity among Chinese readers both traditional and modern. The reason is not at all mysterious: it is the only traditional work of fiction that unequivocally criticizes the Chinese society of its time, seemingly in anticipation of the barrage of social criticism one finds in the so-called "modern" Chinese fiction of the 1920s and 30s, when intellectual China was in the throes of deciding how to rid itself of its cultural traditions, including its literary traditions, that appeared to be ill-fitted to the modern world at large.