Chapter 304: Zhang Ye’s Dropping of Atomic Bombshells!
An auditorium on the west side of campus.
The time was now 9:45AM.
The class “Appreciation of the Classics”, which had been scheduled for 9:30AM, was now delayed by a quarter of an hour.
This auditorium was usually only used for academic conferences or large public lectures. As it was not prepared beforehand, there was still a banner that wrote “Academic Conference For Education” in bright red hanging above the auditorium’s stage. Peking University’s staff quickly removed the banner, but could not find time to put one up for Zhang Ye, leaving it empty.
Everyone rushed in with one objective.
There were students, Peking University teachers, and also reporters.
“Friends of the press, please sit in this area. Kindly turn off your video cameras!”
“Why? No filming? Then what kind of public lecture is this?”
“I’ll repeat it once more. Please turn off you video cameras and camera flashes. Today’s public lecture does not allow filming to take place. Please cooperate, thank you.”
“Then can we do an interview after the lesson?”
“How can you all do this? We came all the way here and you don’t let us do interviews or filming?”
“It’s the department that had given the green light, otherwise this wouldn’t even be a public lecture. So please try to understand, we have our rules as well. If you can’t cooperate, then please leave!”
“Alright, we understand.”
Peking University was very firm on its stand on such matters. They did not accommodate to any of their grumblings. The reporters knew what sort of place this was too. They knew that they being allowed in was already a very good gesture by the university, so they also did not push it too far. Just the name of Peking University alone was enough to make people mind their behavior.
The reporters took their seats.
Professor Zeng and a few other Chinese department teachers were seated in the front row. At last, the department dean and secretary also arrived and got seated.
Professor Zeng smiled, “This is the first time an elective class of our department has gotten so many of us gathered in full force.”
A Chinese department teacher shook his head and sighed, “I’m just afraid that when the time comes, we will be embarrassed. The bigger the turnout, the harder it is to keep it under wraps. We still don’t know how the media would report it.”
Professor Zeng said, “Teacher Zhang has the ability. Such a situation shouldn’t happen.”
“Hopefully.” The Chinese department teacher was still not optimistic about Zhang Ye’s lecture. He kept feeling like he was on tenterhooks.
Suddenly, a figure appeared at the auditorium’s entrance. It was Wu Zeqing. When she saw the almost packed auditorium, she smiled a little before walking over.
Chang Kaige stood up quickly, “President Wu.”
Zhen Shuquan also said, “What are you doing here?”
“I heard that there were many reporters here, so I wanted to take a look at it myself.” Wu Zeqing was wearing a long skirt today. She gracefully walked in her skirt and took a seat in the front row seat herself.
After her, there were also a few other professors who came in, but they were not from the Chinese department, but instead other department professors and teachers. It was not known what reason they came for. Maybe it was curiosity, but they had turned up to listen to Zhang Ye’s first public lecture. The few of them observed the situation at the entrance and secretly felt shocked. They had just heard that Zhang Ye’s class had a situation of overcrowding, so much so that even Zhang Ye could not get into the lecture hall. They had not believed it, but now seeing all of this before their eyes, they finally understood the news that they heard had not been exaggerated at all. In fact, it was understated. This medium-sized auditorium could hold about 1200 people, yet all the seats had nearly been taken up by the students alone!
And people were still streaming in!
There were still Peking University students who rushed over upon hearing the news!
At this rate, nothing would stop the 1200 seats from filling up!
The few professors from the other departments were feeling quite envious. An industry outsider, a host, crossing fields into Peking University to give a lecture in front of the professionals. And yet he could attract so many Peking University students that wanted to listen in? They had even skipped their own classes to come listen to Zhang Ye’s lecture? These well-known teachers and professors of the education world could no longer keep their faces.
But the Peking University students were very excited.
Yao Mi managed to get a good seat upfront. She had been extremely looking forward to this and said, “I wonder how Teacher Zhang would talk about the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ today. Is there still more to talk about?”
Li Ying said, “Would it really be the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’?”
“It will be for sure. Zhang Ye’s not familiar with the others.” Li Li said.
Yao Mi did not take it well, “Come on, there’s nothing my Uncle Zhang doesn’t know! He can speak about anything without problems!”
The straight A student, Senior Song, who was silently reading her book and sat just beside them suddenly said, “Among the famous classics, as long as he doesn’t lecture about ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, with Teacher Zhang Ye’s literary background, he would surely be able to handle anything.”
Yao Mi did not understand, “Why can’t ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ be lectured?”
Li Ying knew a bit more, “Hur Hur, it’s not that it is prohibited from being lectured, but it can’t be taught.”
The provocative Senior Zhou, who was sitting a row behind them, added, “Looks like Junior Yao has never studied ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’? This is a novel that no one dares touch.” Then he explained to Yao Mi and a few others who did not understand as well.
After listening, Yao Mi understood it, “Damn it. Teacher Zhang had previously asked me what topic I thought we would like to listen to. So I told him that it would be ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’!”
Senior Zhou said with a gasp, “Surely not?”
Senior Song glanced at them, “Don’t worry. Teacher Zhang wouldn’t listen to you, he’s not that stupid.”
Yao Mi patted her chest and breathed a sigh of relief, “That’s good, that’s good.”
Many others in the auditorium were also wondering what topic Zhang Ye would be lecturing about.
The reporters interacted amongst themselves.
“Who knows what Zhang Ye would lecture about?”
“We did not get any updates from Peking University, so I don’t know.”
“It’s a 99% chance that it would be the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’. If not, then ‘Water Margin’ or ‘Journey to the West’?”
“It would not be the ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ anyway. Hur Hur.”
“Nonsense, who doesn’t know that?”
From the start, everyone had already consciously left out “Dream of the Red Chamber”. No one had a doubt about it, they took it for granted that this would be the case.
Chang Kaige who was in the front row also asked, “What’s the topic that Teacher Zhang would be lecturing about? ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ or Water Margin?”
The passing staff, who was being asked, was stunned, “Oh, I forgot to ask. Teacher Zhang Ye did not mention anything about it. He is still preparing backstage.”
Zhen Shuquan was at a loss for words. “We don’t even know what he will be lecturing on?”
Professor Zeng smiled, “Don’t worry, it will be fine as long as it’s not ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’.”
Suddenly, the Chinese department’s most distinguished professor, Professor Yan Jiantao said, “Dream of the Red Chamber? Little Zhang would have to dare to speak about it first. No one in the industry dares to touch on this topic.”
Chang Kaige laughed, “Little Zhang is not that muddle-headed.”
Zhen Shuquan did not think that Zhang Ye would speak about “Dream of the Red Chamber”. This thought had not even passed him.
A department teacher said, “Professor Yan is here too?”
Yan Jiantao nodded lightly to President Wu and the Dean politely as they freed up a seat for him. He sat down preparing to listen to Zhang Ye’s lecture. Actually, he was not curious, but merely came to pick on him.
No matter what everyone’s purpose of being here was for, this lecture was still highly anticipated!
The teachers were concerned, the students were concerned, the reporters were concerned, the education world was concerned, and even society was concerned!
Peking University’s staff members had set up the video cameras, a total of three to face the stage. They did not allow the reporters to do filming, but Peking University would need to do so to keep a record. This was a public lecture after all.
The auditorium doors closed. No one was allowed in anymore.
The 1200 seats had been filled up completely and it was still not enough. About a dozen Peking University students, who barely arrived in time, had no seats. So they could only stand along the aisle as they did not want to leave. No one wanted to leave, even if they had to stand. Everyone’s eyes were fixed on to the stage.
It was time.
A female staff member tested the microphone and then announced, “Please welcome Teacher Zhang Ye.”
The reporters did not react. The professors and teachers of Peking University also did not stir much. Instead, the Peking University students were the ones who cheered and applauded loudly. They were very passionate!
Zhang Ye came out.
The female staff member handed the microphone over to him and went off stage.
He walked towards the podium and placed the microphone into the microphone holder. Then he observed the packed audience and smiled a little. He did not suffer from stage fright and spoke with composure, “Sorry for the delay. Because of a tiny situation, today’s lesson has been changed into a public lecture. As the first time speaking as a lecturer on stage, I am actually feeling very nervous.”
The students went, “Hahaha!”
Zhang Ye said in confusion, “But this is not the joke?”
The students went again, “HAHAHAHA!” They laughed even louder this time.
Zhang Ye was speechless. He was truly very speechless. “Alright then, you guys really have a low laughing point.”
This was a habitual reaction. Many in the audience had watched “Zhang Ye’s Talk Show” before and were accustomed to funny thoughts whenever they saw Zhang Ye speaking.
A proper class had become a Talk Show. Zhang Ye hurriedly withheld himself. Today, he was not standing there as a host, but as a lecturer. “I previously told my students that my classes aren’t too particular. Anyone can ask me questions or talk about their own opinions and theories. The more debate there is, the better. Of course, that is limited to my students. As for others, regardless of reason, please do not interrupt my class. Thank you for your cooperation. These are the ground rules I am setting for my lecture.” These words were clearly meant for the reporters.
“Then….” Zhang Ye looked over to the dozen odd Peking University students, who were still standing, “Can our reporter comrades over there please let our students have their seats?”
The reporters were stunned.
“Give up our seats?”
Holy sh*t! He’s chasing us off immediately after getting on stage!
Zhang Ye said in a matter-of-fact manner, “There are not enough seats, but we can’t possibly ask our students, who are here to listen to the lecture, to remain standing, right? This is a school, so we have to put the students at the forefront. Thank you.” You could offend anyone, but a reporter. These words were very popular within the entertainment industry, but Zhang Ye did not possess any such concept. He was now a teacher and the students were an utmost priority.
Chang Kaige nodded slightly. The other Peking University professors thought the same.
But some of the reporters did not move. They felt that Zhang Ye was being too hard on them.
An old reporter looked over to the students at the side and stood up saying, “Child, come and seat here.”
“Teacher Zhang is correct, come on.” A female reporter also stood up and gave her seat to the students.
More than ten Peking University students felt warmth rush up into their hearts. After exchanging some pleasantries, they also sat down, while more than ten reporters stood by the aisles.
Zhang Ye nodded and said, “Thanks. May I get the staff to move a few chairs for the reporters? Hur Hur. It’s best if everyone has a seat.” After saying this, he noticed the atmosphere a little tense, hence Zhang Ye chuckled and said, “Actually, I was hinting that someone should bring me a chair. Alright, treat it as if I didn’t say anything. I guess that wouldn’t be allowed either.”
“Hur Hur Hur Hur…” Everyone laughed.
How would it be allowed!? How many teachers have you seen sitting while lecturing!?
Zhang Ye had a perfect grasp of humor. This was not a Talk Show, and neither was it a television program, so he naturally could not use humorous joke segments. However, being too serious was also not Zhang Ye’s style. To combine education with entertainment, he had to lessen his humor, without emphasizing too deeply on it. It was all within a reasonable range.
After all these arrangements were done, the auditorium turned quiet. Everyone was waiting to listen to the class properly. The first question on their minds was of course the topic Zhang Ye was teaching.
Was he going to rest on his laurels and teach the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’?
Or was he going to attempt at ‘Water Margin’ or ‘Journey to the West’?
Even President Wu Zeqing, who was sitting below, was very curious.
Following that, Zhang Ye held the podium and looked at everywhere. “Alright then, today’s class for ‘Appreciation of the Classics’ shall officially begin. When we talk about the classics, it is actually a very broad spectrum. However, I want to know what everyone’s first impression of this course is? Can someone tell me?”
A few people raised their hands.
Zhang Ye chose a person he knew.
Senior Zhou stood up and said loudly. “In my impression, this course is all about ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’,’Water Margin’ and ‘Journey to the West’. It will allow us to have a deeper understanding of these classic texts, allowing us to examine the wisdom of the ancients, so as to be able to apply what we learn.”
“Alright, please take a seat.” Zhang Ye lowered his hand before carrying on. “Many people probably have similar thoughts. ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, Water Margin, ‘Journey to the West’. These three famous works form the basis of the ‘Appreciation of the Classics’ course. This is not limited to Peking University. Other institutions of higher learning are similar. With that, I believe some people must be curious. China clearly has four works in the Four Great Classical Novels. Why of all things is ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ not lectured on by people?”
Ah? ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’?
How could that even be lectured on!?
Of course no one touches it! Is there a need to ask!?
Everyone was stunned and from their eyes, they had taken it for granted. They did not know why Zhang Ye had suddenly mentioned this!
Yan Jiantao and Chang Kaige, Zhen Shuquan and company were also alarmed. They suddenly had a bad premonition. It can’t be?
Zhang Ye smiled and said, “Many people know the reason. Everyone seems to think that ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ is a famous piece of work, but there are too many problems with it. There are numerous mysteries and defects that cannot be solved. There are even serious lapses of logic in it. Hence, be it the lecture-style programs on television, or in literature courses in university, people try to avoid ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ at all costs. It has even reached a point where not a single professor or lecturer will teach ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ in an appreciation class. This is a taboo topic no one wants to talk to in literature! They try to avoid it out of fear!
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“What Zhang Ye is saying is…”
Everyone was stunned for a while.
Chang Kaige’s face sank. “What does Little Zhang want to do?!”
Wu Zeqing’s eyebrows also jumped. However, she still hung that graceful expressions of hers as she remained silent.
“Everyone previously thought that I would be teaching ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ again, however, I have already said all I wanted to say about it in ‘Analysis of the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, so I don’t want to repeat myself.” Zhang Ye grasped the microphone and said something shocking, “Some people must have already guessed. Yes, this semester’s ‘Appreciation of the Classics’, I am purposely choosing to teach you the appreciation of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. I won’t be vaguely teaching you, but in detail. It will be so detailed that syllables and isolated words will be talked about, so detailed that we would ruminate upon the wording. It is not to be at loggerheads or to quarrel, and especially not revolting against the education and literary world. I just want to let everyone know that it’s not that no one dares to teach ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. This massive masterpiece is not as simple as it seems. The currently 120 circulated chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ has a huge shocking secret hidden within it!”