Chapter 36 – Lishan Society, English Society

“Brother Gao, Brother Lin.” Fang Yun greeted the two with a smile.

“Brother Fang!” The two approached with a group of other accomplished scholars, each wearing a friendly smile as they carefully examined Fang Yun.

When Fang Yun heard Gao Minghong’s address, he knew that he was trying to show off their good relationship to others. In reality, they had only met once, but Fang Yun didn’t expose him as it wasn’t a big deal.

“This is Fang Yun, also known as Fang Shuangjia, a well-known figure throughout the nation. I won’t introduce him further. These are your fellow students from the Prefectural Academy. You’ll also be attending there in the future to study The Path of the Saints together. Let me introduce you to them one by one. This is Wang Shoukui from Ting County, who was once a case leader.”

Wang Shoukui waved his hands repeatedly and said, “Who doesn’t know that Fang Yun is the best case leader now? You’re defaming me, Minghong. Hello, Fang Yun. I like your poem ‘Year-end’, you’re a good man!”

“Thank you, Brother Wang.” Fang Yun smiled.

After that, Gao Minghong introduced everyone to Fang Yun one by one.

When the introductions were over, Gao Minghong said, “You may have heard of this in Jixian. Students from various academies can form their own ‘society’. We are the representatives of ‘Lishan Society’ at the State Academy, which is also the largest society among the poor scholars. It has a history of a hundred years, and many predecessors have already achieved high positions. The current minister of rites and the prefect of Huangping Prefecture were both members of Lishan Society.”

“I’ve long heard of the great name of Lishan Society.” Fang Yun had already heard of the name of Lishan Society and knew that the nature of this society was similar to the famous Fushu and Donglin Party of the Ming Dynasty. They were all literary societies, groups of scholars who studied and discussed politics. Later, they gradually developed strong political purposes and could be considered as the embryonic form of political parties.

There were numerous literary societies in the ten kingdoms, generally divided into poor scholars and aristocrats, who were opposed to each other but cooperated externally.

The prominent families, wealthy families, and saintly families such as the Hanxin family, Shi family, Sai family, and Fan family were collectively referred to as aristocrats, while noble families could be considered aristocrats or poor scholars. Those ordinary households and commoners belonged to the poor scholars.

Lishan Society was not only the largest poor scholar literary society in the Prefectural Academy, but there was also a Lishan Society in the State Academy, which was the real Lishan Society. The Lishan Society outside the State Academy was actually a sub-society.

However, the power of the poor scholars was ultimately limited. The largest literary society in Jiangzhou was “Yingshe”, where all the students from the prominent families and more than half of the noble families in Jiangzhou gathered. In terms of financial strength, influence, and literary position, Yingshe surpassed Lishan Society. Many outstanding poor scholars would be invited by Yingshe.

“We look forward to you joining Lishan Society, but don’t worry, we won’t force you or give you a deadline. It’s up to you to decide when and whether to join Lishan Society. As for Yingshe, some people want to invite you, but Liu Zicheng strongly opposes it, so Yingshe won’t invite you. Other literary societies know they’re not qualified to invite you.” Gao Minghong said.

“Thank you for considering me, I will seriously consider it. Although Yingshe is good, I’m still a poor scholar.” Fang Yun said.

Wang Shoukui whispered, “Don’t say that we’re trying to win you over in front of General Fang Shouye. You’re his nephew and can be considered half an aristocrat. He should hope that you join Yingshe.””Uncle is uncle, and I am me,” Fang Yun smiled.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Fang Shouye’s notorious reputation was too great, even the pawnshop of the Liu family was burned down. They didn’t dare to provoke him.

Gao Minghong handed Fang Yun a red invitation and said, “On the day of the beginning of summer, which falls on the first day of April every year, the Dayuan Prefecture holds two summer literary meetings at noon and in the evening. Only talented scholars can participate in the noon meeting, occasionally there are also child scholars with great literary talent. Only presented scholars or higher-ranking officials can participate in the evening meeting. Occasionally, a few talented scholars may also receive invitations, but they must be recommended by imperial scholars or officials of seventh rank or higher.”

Fang Yun took the invitation and said, “Thank you, Brother Gao and the Lishan Society, I will definitely attend the noon summer literary meeting two days later.”

Although Fang Yun appeared to be willing to go, he actually didn’t want to because there were too many literary meetings in the Holy Origin Continent. There were literary meetings during every season, festival, and even when it rained or snowed. There were literary meetings after the imperial examination, when a merchant promoted their goods, when a scholar published a book, and even when someone celebrated their birthday. It was very diverse.

Not many people knew Fang Yun’s address at the moment, so he was peaceful. Otherwise, with his reputation, he would have received invitations as heavy as waste paper.

“Alright. Since you still have to teach here, we won’t disturb you. After the summer literary meeting, let’s drink and discuss poetry together. Of course, we’ll just drink in front of you, we wouldn’t dare to discuss anything,” the group smiled kindly, without refuting. They were all impressed with Fang Yun’s talents and believed that he would become a great figure in the future. Since their interests didn’t conflict, they naturally wanted to strengthen their relationship with him.

Fang Yun saw the group of talented scholars out and when they left the gate of the clan school, Gao Minghong cleared his throat and said, “An elder from the Lishan Society in the State Academy asked me to pass on a message. Liu Zicheng and his followers are slandering your character within the Ying Society, but several elders from the Lishan Society defended you. Unfortunately, the Liu family is powerful, and your reputation in the State Academy is very poor except for the support of the Fang family. Most people remain silent. We suspect that Liu Zicheng wants to ruin your literary reputation, so you must be careful.”

Fang Yun already knew from Zhou Zhubu that Liu Zicheng and Liu Zizhi were making moves behind the scenes, so he said, “Thank you, Brother Gao, I will be careful.”

After seeing off the group of talented scholars, Fang Yun returned to the teaching room to continue reading the scriptures silently. At noon, he went to the Sanwei Bookstore for a meal.

Liang Yuan had already taken 5,000 copies of “The Romance of the Western Chamber,” as well as promotional flyers and bookmarks, from the printing house’s warehouse and put them in the bookstore’s storage. He took some out and placed them on the shelves, but they hadn’t been promoted yet, and not a single copy had been sold.

After eating with the group at the Sanwei Bookstore, Fang Yun went home.

The next two days were calm, and soon it was the first day of April, the day when the “Holy Journal” and the “Literary News” were published.As soon as it was dawn, dozens of people were pushing carts standing on the east side of the Wenyuan Bookstore in Wenyuan Prefecture. Some were sent by bookstores, while others were booksellers preparing to buy and sell “The Path of the Saints” and “Wenbao.”

The prefecture was so big that there were always people living nearby who didn’t want to travel far. They could sell “The Path of the Saints” for an extra five coins and “Wenbao” for an extra one coin, and with a few other books sold, they could make a good profit every month.

Compared to previous days, the people who bought books for bookstores hadn’t changed much, but most of the booksellers had changed.

Over twenty booksellers were dressed in neat and uniform white clothes, with four powerful black characters on the front and back of their clothes.

Sanwei Bookstore.

Next to Sanwei Bookstore was a line of small characters: No. 17 Mingli Street, the best novels in the world are all here! At the end of the characters was a special artistic “Fang” trademark pattern, which was very impressive.

In addition to their neat and uniform clothes, each small cart of the booksellers had a banner supported by bamboo poles, with “The hot sale of ‘The Story of the Western Wing,’ a work of Fang Yun, the triple-crowned poet of the saints,” written on the left side of the banner, and “The sword-browed Lord Li, the Grand Academician, invites you to read the divine article ‘Dream Record of the Pillow’ in the next month,” written on the right side of the banner.

Under the banner hung an advertisement written by Fang Yun.

The other booksellers and bookstore clerks were shocked by what they saw. What kind of trick was this? Advertising with the name of the Prefecture Lord Li at the gate of the Wenyuan? It was either seeking death or having a strong background.

A bookseller hurriedly walked up to a disguised bookseller and asked, “Why are you dressed so strangely, and which bookstore is Sanwei Bookstore?”

The person proudly said, “Our Sanwei Bookstore was opened by Fang Yun, the triple-crowned poet of the saints, and is supported not only by the Fang family of Dayuan, but also by a Grand Academician. We have all signed a contract with Sanwei Bookstore, with a basic monthly salary of one or two silver, and the more books we sell, the higher the percentage we get. We are guaranteed to make money regardless of drought or flood, and we can sell not only ‘The Path of the Saints’ and ‘Wenbao’ but also Sanwei Bookstore’s books.”

“Is this such a good thing? Can I join? I sell a lot of books every month, earning seven or eight hundred texts, and not just on the days when ‘The Path of the Saints’ and ‘Wenbao’ are sold.”

“I have seen you selling books before. If you can get two other booksellers to write recommendation letters for you, you can come to our Sanwei Bookstore. Wait a moment, and I will write you a recommendation letter.” The person took out paper, pen, and ink from the cart and wrote a simple recommendation letter.

“Thank you, brother.” The man handed over a large brass coin, with “Ten coins” written on it.

“You’re welcome.”

Soon, all the booksellers who didn’t wear Sanwei Bookstore uniforms left, and even the clerks who worked for other bookstores came to inquire.

Just after six o’clock, a group of servants and attendants came, lining up behind the booksellers.

These servants and attendants were very surprised when they saw the banners and asked about the content and price of “The Story of the Western Wing” and “Dream Record of the Pillow,” and the booksellers patiently answered their questions.”A popular novel with over 150 pages for only 50 wen is not expensive.”

“Is this book really by Fang Shuangjia? Our young miss loves his poetry.”

“Look at us, spending so much money on new clothes and daring to sell books in front of the Academy of Literature. Can it be fake? The Three Flavors Bookstore is at No. 17 Mingli Street. You can check it out if you don’t believe me.”

“Oh, I see. With Grand Academician Li’s guarantee, I’ll buy a copy. Our young miss will surely love it,” said a middle-aged woman.

“I’ll take one too. Our young master has been praising Fang Yun’s works,” said another.

In no time, over 20 copies were sold, all because of Fang Yun’s literary reputation and Grand Academician Li’s name.

By 6:30, the area outside the Academy of Literature bookstore was filled with people buying “Wendao” and “Wenbao” newspapers, and more and more people saw the book vendors’ advertisements.

Just as the bookstore was about to open, ten carts, just out of the printing house, were linked together and slowly passed in front of the bookstore, each with a banner or a sign, very eye-catching.

A person stood on the cart and shouted, “Reading ‘The West Chamber’ will teach you about love, and reading ‘The Pillow Book’ will make you a Great Scholar!”

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