Chapter 306: A Lecture that Subverts All Understanding!
Outside the auditorium.
The chaotic commotion from inside spread outside.
A few Peking University teachers from the Mathematics department walked past.
“Hmm? Why is it so chaotic inside?”
“What happened? Isn’t this a public lecture?”
“That host, Zhang Ye, is having a public lecture, right? Why is it so noisy? And there is even screaming?”
“Man, is this a class or the filming of a horror film? Must there be so much shouting? What’s the fuss all about. Isn’t it just a lecture?”
The few of them left after passing the auditorium by.
Many students, who were on the floor below, also heard the commotion from the auditorium. They were also extremely curious. No one knew what was happening inside.
Only those present in the public lecture knew that shocking view thrown out by Zhang Ye!
He was bold!
People who dared to propose such ideas were either geniuses or madmen!
Standing behind the podium, Zhang Ye, who saw the shocked expressions on the students and reporters’ faces, subconsciously stood up straight. He felt extremely dignified and was also a bit honored. As Zhang Ye’s world had a person, whose name was Hu Shih. He was formerly Peking University’s President, and during the early years of the People’s Republic, Hu Shih and Yu Pingbo had suggested that the last 40 chapters of “Dream of the Red Chamber” mismatched the first 80 chapters in artistry and ideology. They had made a bold guess that the last 40 chapters were continued on by someone else, causing quite an uproar. Zhang Ye was actually replicating what Hu Shih and Yu Pingbo did back then. And fate had it that he was doing so at Peking University, who Hu Shih had been President of. At least the superstitious Zhang Ye believed in such matters, so he wanted to do a good job. He wanted to reveal the truth that everyone from his world knew to this world. This was a show of respect to Mr Cao Xueqin, as well as to the work, “Dream of the Red Chamber”!
“Teacher Zhang!” Someone raised a hand.
Upon looking over, it was straight As student Senior Song who was in Year 3.
Zhang Ye said with a smile, “Please speak.”
Senior Song stood up. She also wanted to let go of her prejudices and calcified knowledge from before, but she could not do so. She really could not accept Zhang Ye’s conjecture. “According to your inference, if the last 40 chapters were not written by Mr Cao Xueqin, then who wrote it? Who can pass off the spurious as genuine?”
Everyone pricked up their ears to listen.
Zhang Ye looked at her and answered, “Your question has two slight problems. Firstly, what I said just now was not a deduction, but a certain fact. As for why I say so, I will explain and analyze it one step at a time later on.” Regarding this matter, Zhang Ye was very certain and definite, hence he said it with conviction. There were still disputes as to who finished up the work, but the last 40 chapters were definitely not the work of Cao Xueqin. This was indisputable. “Secondly, I think the words passing off the spurious as genuine is inappropriate. Maybe some people feel that the last 40 chapters and the first 80 chapters match very well, and the plot has proper contrast, but I don’t think so. In fact, I find it incongruous. Of course, this will be slowly talked about later on as well. As for you asking who wrote the last 40 chapters, I can answer you right now.”
Senior Song asked, “Who?”
Zhang Ye smiled. This time, he was not that certain, but said it with precise words, “I presume it is Gao E!”
How could it be Gao E!?
Many students gave him looks of suspicion. Clearly, they did not know this name, but many Peking University professors and students knew of this person!
Senior Song was rendered even more speechless. “Gao E was the collator and conserver of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. He made a great contribution by conserving and spreading ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. How can he be the author? This is a groundless statement! Besides, Gao E was not of the same era as Mr Cao Xueqin! How could the both of them create ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ together?” Through her explanation, many Peking University students who did not know now knew who Gao E was.
The collator became an author?
Department Dean Chang Kaige wanted to turn away. What this Little Zhang was saying was becoming more and more preposterous!
Zhang Ye still had a calm expression. “I never said Gao E and Cao Xueqin had produced ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ together. In my opinion, due to various unknown reasons, the original chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ after Chapter 80 were lost. As a fan of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, Gao E continued the story with his own 40 chapters!”
The reporters stared. The original manuscript was lost?
Senior Song exclaimed, “That’s impossible!”
Li Ying also stood up and said, “That is unfounded!”
“That’s right Teacher Zhang.” Senior Zhou also said, “Why do you say that?”
Zhang Ye chuckled. “It’s not unfounded. There is actually a reason behind it. However, with everyone’s preconceptions, no one noticed it, so many things were missed before their very eyes. What I want to do now is help to open everyone’s eyes. I want to let everyone see what you should have seen and discovered.”
Saying that, Zhang Ye flipped open the lesson plan in his hand and took out a piece of paper before walking to a projector. He projected the information to let everyone see it, “Here I have a poem. Of course, it was not written by me. It was written by an outstanding poet, scholar, and artist in the Qing dynasty, Zhang Wentao. This poem is titled “Dedicated to Gao Lanshu, My Contemporary Examinee”. Well, the content of the poem is not important and is just average in standard. It does not have much literary value either. However, the important part is the note following the poem, ‘Chapters after the eightieth were all supplemented by Lanshu’.”
This world’s history and famous people were different from Zhang Ye’s world; however, important historical figures, especially figures and history related to the Four Great Classical Novels, did not have many changes. If these were to change, then this world might no longer have the Four Great Classical Novels. There was only information and proof that was lost. For example, many of the information and poems to prove that “Dream of the Red Chamber” were not complete and were lacking in this world. For example, “Folk Tunes From the Capital” was a crucial piece that Zhang Ye never managed to find. It might not have been discovered by others, or was hidden in some desolate corner or time had destroyed this vestige. There was, after all, no way for wishing that this world’s historical evidence was exactly preserved the same way that it had been in Zhang Ye’s world. Zhang Ye had struggled so much just to find that tiny bit, so although it was somewhat lacking, it had enough information to support his viewpoint.
“Chapters after the eightieth were all supplemented by Lanshu?” Many people were surprised when they saw the poem’s note. They shook their heads, “What can this tell?”
Zhang Ye pointed to the projected image, “This poem might not be famous, and might not even be found in today’s advanced search engines. It can only be found in libraries, but I want to remind everyone. Don’t look down on this tiny piece of information. In the research of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, this poem is extremely valuable. Who is Lanshu? He is Gao E, whose pen name is Lanshu. A Qing dynasty poet, Zhang Wentao, has already told us that the chapters after the eightieth chapter of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were supplemented by Gao E!”
Senior Song mulled over it before shaking her head, “This word ‘supplement’ has a lot of meanings. Finding something that is lost can also be considered as a ‘supplement’. If there are missing words or pages, filling in the blanks can also be considered ‘supplement’. This word ‘supplement’ is similar to ‘patching’ , so it can’t explain anything.” As a straight A student, she was truly talented.
Professor Zeng nodded upon hearing this.
The other Peking University teachers and students similar agreed with Senior Song’s points.
Zhang Ye smiled. “I believe I’m not the first person to see this poem. I also believe that in ancient and modern times, there have been an extremely small number of people who have discovered this. However, everyone without exception would have the same views as Miss Song. They would conclude that Gao E had arranged and conserved ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, but have you thought of something? The word ‘supplement’ has another meaning. That is to add to something in order to complete it!”
Senior Song was also speechless, “About that…”
Teacher Zhang was f**king bent on going down such a treacherous path. If he insisted on explaining the word ‘supplement’ that way, it was of course alright, but…
Zhang Ye carried on, “And according to my analysis, and according to relevant information and records, if it was as everyone else said, Gao E was only doing a ‘patching’ job. He is not the only one arranging ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, right? Then why would there be a note given to Gao E that attributes the role of all the supplementing to him? Why would the word ‘all’ be used? Was everything arranged by him? No one else was involved? Let’s not talk about anyone else. I would like to ask what happened to Cheng Weiyuan? What happened to Cheng Weiyuan, who was with Gao E? Hur Hur, clearly this is illogical and does not match what we know. Hence, the meaning of ‘supplement’ really means adding to something in order to complete it. It also means continuing the writing, and he alone wrote the rest!”
This view and analysis method was groundbreaking!
Professor Zeng took a deep breath!
Yao Mi was shocked from hearing this!
Senior Zhou disagreed and immediately put forward his doubts, “Teacher Zhang, even if your analysis is correct, who can prove that the Qing dynasty poet knows the truth? Even if we take ten thousand steps back, who knows if Zhang Wentao learned it from hearsay and thought that was how it was. Hence, without any validation, he added this note. That is all possible.”
“He’s after all not some particularly important poet.”
“Right. I’ve never heard of Zhang Wentao. Is what he said reliable?”
A few students argued.
Zhang Ye smiled. “So you think Zhang Wentao was engaging in hearsay? Alright, then let me show you the next set of information.” Saying that, he switched to another piece of A4 paper. “Everyone, take a look. This is a poem Zhang Wentao wrote as a eulogical tribute to his younger sister. There is a small note here: ‘My sister married a Han military officer of Gao descent’. It means that his sister was married to a ‘Han military officer’, whose surname was Gao when she was alive. Hence, if I boldly infer from this, Gao E is very likely to be Zhang Wentao’s brother-in-law!”
“It can’t be?”
Everyone was amazed!
Brother-in-law? Your sister, that can even work?
Zhang Ye carried on. “If that is truly the case, then how would Zhang Wentao not know about the accomplishments of his own brother-in-law? What hearsay was there? Hence, what he said was somewhat believable!” However, he did not close the case on the matter. “Of course, as there is limited information, you cannot put a nail in the coffin on whether Zhang Wentao and Gao E are relatives or not. To follow academic rigor, this is just an inference on my part. I am just giving everyone a new perspective.” In his world, there were people who overthrew the argument according to Zhang Wentao’s family history. Some people even speculated if Zhang Wentao knew Gao E when he wrote “Dedicated to Gao Lanshu, My Contemporary Examinee”. Everyone had their own justifications, and there was still a huge controversy.
However, ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was always mysterious. This masterpiece had so many mysteries that even in Zhang Ye’s world, not every one of them had been unearthed!
Having controversy was normal. It would be odd if there wasn’t!
A lot of history could no longer be verified, unless there was new historical data or documents discovered. If not, many mysteries would be forever left unsolved, resulting in endless debate!
The reason why Zhang Ye mentioned this was to tell everyone that his words were backed by information and documents. It also agreed with logical inference. He had not blindly spoken guesswork without any evidence.
Chang Kaige, who wanted to leave because he could not stand anymore of it, sat back down!
Many of the Peking University teachers, students and reporters, who had previously shrugged off Zhang Ye’s idea, all turned silent!
Of course, they found it impossible to agree with Zhang Ye’s audacious conjecture, but after a round of demonstration by Zhang Ye, they realized they had no way to retort him. Just like Zhang Ye, they could not provide any evidence or documents to prove the problem about Gao E!