Chapter 308: One bombshell after another!
Senior Song spoke, “It might be a coincidence, and not considered evidence.”
Zhang Ye shook his head, “Coincidence cannot explain it. The only explanation is that only 80 chapters of Cao Xueqin’s ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were transmitted and seen by Gao E. He seriously studied it and then carried on writing the story. Gao E was very lucky. He saw a more complete ancient version of the 80 chapters that none of us have ever seen. Of course, there are things that he modified and filled in the blanks, but there were no major changes.”
Senior Song insisted, “Then why couldn’t it be Gao E obtained the 120 ancient chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ before arranging and publishing it?”
Zhang Ye did not answer the question, but rather asked, “Has anyone heard of a person known as Zhiyanzhai (Red Inkstone)?”
Senior Song shook her head.
Many Peking University students also shook their heads.
Only a History department junior said in a crisp voice, “I think there was an ancient text. I remember the name as ‘Zhiyanzhai’s Second Annotations to The Story of the Stone’. However, this ancient book only had a few rounds of circulation only. It is extremely incomplete. The comments in it are all baffling, so many expert scholars and Redologists do not count it as an ancient text. They find that it lacks the authority, and might have been blindly written.”
The students checked on the internet, and indeed, there was such an ancient text.
“Well said.” Zhang Ye smiled. “Zhiyanzhai’s ancient book is not looked up to by people because of two reasons. First, it’s because it’s too incomplete, and second, because it’s hard to understand. Hence, no one has seriously researched it. Even if one were to research it, it would be in passing, without paying close attention to it. Hur Hur, but I have something to tell everyone now. You can’t say he blindly wrote it just because you can’t understand it. This would be disrespectful to academia in itself. Actually, Zhiyanzhai’s ancient text is the only version of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ that has been spread down with the greatest authority!” In his previous world, Zhiyanzhai’s ancient text was passed down with the most complete and detailed evaluations. He had seen the original version before!
“How can it be!?” Senior Song refused to believe.
Many Peking University students also shook their heads.
Zhang Ye said with a mocking smile, “You say that Zhiyanzhai was just blindly writing? It is only because the people who researched Zhiyanzhai’s ancient book could not understand what he was saying. Others might not understand, but I do. I believe if everyone keeps thinking based on the establishment that ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ only has 80 chapters, you will also be able to understand it.” He took out another piece of information. It was information readily available in this world. Although Zhang Ye had seen the original versions of Zhiyanzhai’s ancient text, most of it had been lost in this world. He could not use that as proof, and could only use available evidence.
Everyone looked up.
Zhang Ye pointed to the projector, “Zhiyanzhai had this comment, Jia Baoyu later ends up ‘choking on sour porridge in the dead winter, sobbing in a winter night covered in rags’. I want to ask, in the first 80 chapters of the 120 circulated chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, was there ever such an episode? No! Was there any such an episode in the last 40 chapters? Also no!” He then pointed, “Zhiyanzhai’s comments also included the fact that Xiaohong ‘had helped Baoyu’ in the ‘The Temple of the Prison God’, but was there such an episode in the last 40 chapters? Also no! Even ‘The Temple of the Prison God’ did not appear in the last forty chapters! In addition to this, Zhiyanzhai even mentioned in his comments a title of one of the chapters after the eightieth. It was called, Xue Baochai, borrowing phrases, admonished; Wang Xifeng, reckoning fate, made a heroic stand. Was there such a title in the last 30 chapters? Still no!”
Senior Zhou said, “This evaluation itself is not authoritative.”
Zhang Ye retorted, “Then what is authoritative? An ancient piece of literary information is not considered authoritative, but a Redologist’s research ends up being authoritative? Is there any logic to that? When we study ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, we need to rely on existing information. Also, do you think an ancient person like Zhiyanzhai had nothing better to do? He wrote some brainless things just to mislead everyone?”
“Uh, about that…” Senior Zhou was stumped.
Senior Song argued, “Maybe Zhiyanzhai interacted with Cao Xueqin before and thought that Cao Xueqin would write it in this manner. A plot and title was revealed to him, and in our present day language is considered an outline, but it is very possible that Cao Xueqin did not write in accordance with his original intentions!”
Zhang Ye looked towards her and said, “Don’t you feel that Zhiyanzhai’s tone in his comments were too affirmative? His tone was not talking a bit about Cao Xueqin’s ideas in some hearsay manner, but like he had read or known the story after the first 80 chapters! Zhiyanzhai was very sure! Hence, Zhiyanzhai’s comments cannot be understood by people. This is because in this story, after the first 80 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, it was not the original intent or written by Cao Xueqin, but followed up by Gao E. Zhiyanzhai is a key person in the study of Redology. ‘He’ might have been Cao Xueqin’s wife or Cao Xueqin’s father, or even Cao Xueqin’s close friend. We do not know the specific details, but we can be sure of one thing. This Zhiyanzhai was not a person who copied ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ after simply borrowing it! You can tell from the comments! Zhiyanzhai was involved in the entire creation process of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’! He had read, communicated, and discussed with Cao Xueqin before writing those comments!”
It set off once again in the auditorium!
Zhiyanzhai, who was never really paid attention to by Redologists, actually ended being said by Zhang Ye to be the most authoritative person who had participated in the creation of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’?
You just won’t give up unless you say something astonishing!
The Peking University students were once again pelted by bombshell shrapnel. They looked blankly at each other!
A Peking University female student from the History department argued, “Even if what you said is reasonable, there is no historical records of a person like Zhiyanzhai. It is just a pen name. He comes from unknown origins. We don’t even know if he is male or female. Of course, we can’t believe his words. We cannot use it as evidence.”
Zhang Ye was amused, “I can’t accept what you just said. From the comments, we can already tell that Zhiyanzhai and Cao Xueqin are extremely close. We just do not know the exact identity of Zhiyanzhai. He is not someone of unknown origins. If we consider Zhiyanzhai to be someone of unknown origins, then according to what you said, then Cao Xueqin himself is also a person of unknown origins. In academia and Redology, no one actually knows if Cao Xueqin is Cao Yong’s son or Cao Fu’s son. Hence, identity cannot be used as rhetoric to deny evidence.”
Cao Xueqin’s identity was also unknown?
The face of female student from the History department changed colors before she finally sat down crestfallen.
“Furthermore, I believe many people have not discovered, and even numerous Redologists have not noticed this.” Zhang Ye projected another piece of information, “As you can see, this is one of the ancient texts of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. It was copied by handwriting and has many more mistakes. The typesetting also seems problematic. Compared to many ancient texts, it is not worthy, but this ancient text contains a very important bit of information. Look at this. Do you see it? This line seems to be a mistake. There seems to be an additional few words. These words, if just read simply, would seem incomprehensible, but what if you do this?” Zhang Ye took another document and placed over it.
“Why is this line the same?”
“This is Zhiyanzhai’s comments?”
“Holy sh*t! Why are Zhiyanzhai’s comments in other ancient texts?”
Professor Zeng and company looked alarmed. The strokes and writing was clearly different, and was written by two different people, but…they were exactly the same!
Zhang Ye maintained his smile. This was a smile of self-confidence, because he knew he had control of every piece of information. The research of “Dream of the Red Chamber” had already reached a point where almost nothing could come out of it. Many things were already fact. Zhang Ye was also a broadcasting host by training, so his eloquence was excellent, so everyone present or even everyone in the world could not win a Redology debate with him.
He said, “Now, it’s very clear, right? The person who wrote this ancient text also referenced Zhiyanzhai’s version. Here, his mind might have wandered and ended up making a mistake while copying. He lifted it without any modifications of Zhiyanzhai’s comments in a baffling manner. It has nothing to do with the following text. Many people have seen it and thought it was a typo or a mistake, so no one paid much attention to it. However, I have studied it, and everyone can see that this line was actually a sentence Zhiyanzhai injected into one of the chapter titles. And it was the original words!”
Zhang Ye projected another piece of information, “If everyone still does not believe this ancient text, there’s also this paragraph. This is even Gao E’s version, and is also the 120 circulated chapters.”
The information wrote:
They continued on their way to Xi-chun’s apartment. Being younger and more immature than the other cousins, Xi-chun was much more frightened by this visitation and, at first, seemed to be quite bewildered by it. It took all of Xi-feng’s efforts to calm her down. Unfortunately, while they were searching in Picture’s trunk, they came across a large packet containing thirty or forty silver medallions. So instead of evidence of immoral conduct, one had found stolen goods. There was also a carved jade belt-buckle, a pair of men’s boots, and a pair of socks.
Zhang Ye looked at the audience, “There’s this line ‘so instead of evidence of immoral conduct, one had found stolen goods’ in there. If a meticulous person were to flip through the ancient text of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, he would realize there was no such line. Only Zhiyanzhai’s edition has it. This line is in no way Cao Xueqin’s original text. So instead of evidence of immoral conduct, one had found stolen goods—This is simply Zhiyanzhai’s own comment!” And coupled with the previous information, I want everyone to take a clear look, “Look, the origins come from here! And clearly, Zhiyanzhai’s ancient text was many years before Gao E’s edition. Of course it couldn’t be Zhiyanzhai erroneously copying Gao E’s ancient text. That is illogical. Hence, this is how a mistaken portion from Zhiyanzhai entered Gao E’s version. This was because Gao E was using Zhiyanzhai’s ancient text as a template!”
“It’s really true!”
“What does this say?”
“Right, what does this represent?”
A few students could not help but ask.
Even Professor Zeng spoke up, “What is your opinion?”
Zhang Ye smiled. “For this situation, I believe or can even say that I’m certain that all the ancient texts of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were actually copied from ‘Zhiyanzhai’s Second Annotations to The Story of the Stone’. This includes Gao E’s version and all the derivative ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ versions. All this came from Zhiyanzhai’s evaluations! And as previously mentioned, the most complete ancient text Gao E had which no one had seen before can, in fact, be concluded to be Zhiyanzhai’s version. It’s just that one of Zhiyanzhai’s versions was too incomplete. It did not hold much meaning even when we discovered it. However, what Gao E obtained was Zhiyanzhai’s most complete edition of the first 80 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’! So by inference, Zhiyanzhai’s comments are too valuable, and can be considered very reliable. Hence, the Zhiyanzhai comments about things past chapter 80, that I previously mentioned, have been established. That is to say, the last 40 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was in no way written by Cao Xueqin!”
“Are you serious?”
The Peking University students rioted!
Even Professor Zeng and a few teachers, who had a relatively deep understanding of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, clearly showed a look of shock! Through Zhang Ye’s evidence and information, along with his analysis and reasoning, it did sound possible!
Wu Zeqing smiled. She no longer pretended to play with her cellphone!
The Chinese department’s Chang Kaige and Zhen Shuquan were also visibly shaken!