Chapter 320: ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ only has 108 Chapters!
It was almost 1PM.
Inside the Grand Auditorium of Peking University.
Zhang Ye had arrived, but stayed in the resting room backstage. He could hear the busy chatter in the auditorium and he understood that all of these people were here today because of him. They were all here to listen to his lecture. At that moment, Zhang Ye felt a rush of adrenaline in his heart. Just like he had mentioned earlier, he was not the type who loved to speak. It was this way at home, and had also been the same at school. He was a low profile type of person in class and had generally never attracted much attention, but whenever there were activities, like a stage play, Zhang Ye’s spirit would perk up. He was the typical field player. The more people there were, the bigger the occasion, the more excited he would be with vigor!
“How many more minutes?” Zhang Ye asked.
“Teacher Zhang, there’s still 10 minutes.” An auditorium staff member told him.
“OK, the projector and the microphones are all properly set up?” Zhang Ye asked.
The staff member said, “They’ve all been test already. Please do not worry. I guarantee that there won’t be any problems. We’ve already tested it a few times.”
Zhang Ye smiled, “Alright, thank you very much for everyone’s hard work.”
“Look at you being courteous, isn’t this our job?” The few staff members were very courteous and polite. They knew that the focus of society was all on Peking University today.
At the venue.
The cameras had all been set up. There were cameras that belonged to Peking University, and some that belonged to the reporters. They had gained prior approval from the university and were allowed to bring their video cameras to record, but if they wanted to post any parts of the public lecture, they would have to seek approval from Peking University. This was a prerequisite that they had agreed on.
There were a total of 7-8 video cameras set up.
The 5000-6000 seats were all filled, with none left empty. Many students did not manage to get in too.
Wu Zeqing and a few other faces that Zhang Ye did not know were the last to arrive. When they arrived, the people who were seated in the front row greeted them.
“Dean Wang is here too?”
“President Chen, long time no see.”
This was Peking University’s group of leaders. A total of 4 people, each one of them held a very high rank. The highest ranked leader should be the same as Wu Zeqing. After chatting for a while, they all took their seats.
Those who greeted them were naturally not ordinary people either.
Those who sat in the front row were mostly senior figures and experts of the literature and history world.
Take for example, Elder Qian. President Wu and Vice President Chen both knew him, but Vice President Chen probably knew him better, as the two of them had a long chat.
Wu Zeqing was having a conversation with another woman instead.
Yan Yu laughed, “President Wu, your Peking University really has some talented people.”
“We’re doing OK i guess.” Wu Zeqing replied softly, “We can’t compare to your Writers’ Association, I didn’t expect to see you here today, Vice-President Yan. I heard that you’ve been busy with your book launch.”
Yan Yu, the National Writers’ Association’s Vice-President. An author, a scholar, and a Redologist.
Yan Yu’s lips curled, “I was busy with the book launch, but I couldn’t help it. This book was written about the appreciation of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, but your Peking University’s Teacher Zhang has totally negated ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ with his new claims. I wouldn’t be able to publish this now, so I came over to ‘learn’.”
Anyone could hear the sarcasm in Yan Yu’s answer.
Wu Zeqing put on a demure smile, “Let’s not say that it’s learning, but instead having a discussion.”
At the other end, a slightly tanned-looking middle-aged man said, “We won’t be able to discuss with Zhang Ye. President Wu, I really respect you, but that Zhang Ye…..” He shook his head.
Elder Qian interrupted saying, “Little Yang, why are you bringing your personal emotions into this? Hur Hur.”
The Redologist, Teacher Yang said, “Elder Qian, I’m not being emotional here. I’m just someone who ‘looks forward to the death of a fellow peer’, so how could I be emotional?”
Indeed, these people were here with unfriendly intentions.
Their words all carried a sting.
Professor Zeng tried to put in a good word, “Old Yang, Teacher Little Zhang’s mouth can be rather vicious, but in terms of literary skills, he is still a professional. If he has offended you in anyway, I want to apologize on his behalf to everyone.” They were from the Chinese department of Peking University, while many of the guest were experts from the literary world. They basically knew each other, though not well. They had seen or heard of each other, and since this circle was not big, they knew of each other.
Old Yang waved dismissively, “There’s no need for that.”
Meng Dongguo, the Vice-President of the Beijing Writer’s Association was also present. He looked at his watch and said, “He’s not coming out yet?”
Renmin University’s Ma Hengyuan was amongst them as well. Everyone had gathered here to talk badly about Zhang Ye, ready to see him make a joke of himself, so how could he not join in, “Time’s almost up, right?”
Chang Kaige looked over to him, “Professor Ma cannot wait for it to begin?”
Ma Hengyuan said impatiently, “I still have a class in the afternoon. I will leave after listening for 30 minutes. This Little Zhang! Does he really have to start on time? So many seniors and industry experts all waiting for a junior like him?”
This was precisely what looking for issues to pick on looked like.
Many of Peking University’s lecturers glanced at him, thinking to themselves that no one begged him to come anyway!
Countdown of three minutes….Countdown of two minutes…..
During the final minute, Zhang Ye finally walked out from backstage and onto the main stage podium.
The applause was sparse and not very synchronized.
Only Yao Mi and a few others, who really liked Zhang Ye, screamed and applauded. Although the applause were limited, in the end, it still felt rather lively.
“Teacher Zhang’s so awesome!” Yao Mi shouted!
Yao Mi’s dormitory mate also began to stir up, “Teacher Zhang, I love you!”
When those words rang out, the 5000 seater auditorium also burst out in laughter.
The Redologists and writers in the front row shook their heads lightly. This was an academic talk, not some celebrity idolizing event. How could a lesson begin like this—Whatever it was that Zhang Ye did, they would not be pleased with it. They were here today to deal a fatal blow should Zhang Ye’s lecture present any arguments with logical errors.
The reporters were all putting up their utmost concentration.
“He’s here, he’s here!”
“Quick, turn on the video camera!”
“Check the image! Don’t leave anything important out of the frame!
The Peking University students also looked excitedly at the stage. Many of them were curious as to how Zhang Ye would present his lecture today, while some others did not care about this, but were instead here to see what kind of bombshell Teacher Zhang Ye would throw out this time!
Hu Fei looked at the stage with a smile.
Zhao Guozhou and Wang Xiaomei also exchanged whispers.
Zhang Ye stood still as he took control of the microphone and took a deep breath as he looked on at the thousands of people below the stage. He really enjoyed this feeling of being the center of attention, just as he liked the famous song ‘I Don’t Believe’ by Zhang Yuanqi. This song essentially depicted him.
I don’t believe, that my life is worse than others!
I don’t believe, that I have no one bit of talent!
I don’t believe, that I’m destined to be a lowly person!
I don’t believe, that my songs will be left unanswered forever!
Today, Zhang Ye’s cry had reached far and wide, and he had received everyone’s response. He had achieved what he had always been wishing for and looking forward to. He wanted his cry to reach further in the future. This was the path that he was determined to follow. He was extremely determined to stay on this path!
“Hello, everyone.” Zhang Ye wore a smile as he spoke into the microphone, “Today is a very special public lecture class. We have many school leaders present, as well as many teachers and seniors from the literary and history worlds. There are even a number of reporter comrades here. As a Peking University elective class lecturer, I feel very flattered and surprised, but still, I welcome everyone here. Because of some special circumstances, the school leaders requested that I change the style of my public lecture a bit. I have agreed to it, so I will distribute a few microphones out into the audience, some for my students, and some for the experts of the literary world. As the auditorium is quite big, I wouldn’t be able to hear your questions otherwise.”
A few Peking University staff members went to the floor and handed out the microphones.
“Give one to me.”
“I want a microphone too.”
“Over here, bring one for me.”
Several of the literary world’s members all came forward trying to get a microphone, like Yan Yu, and Meng Dongguo. The rest of Zhang Ye’s class students were all concentrated in the front of the middle section of seats. They were all seated together. Yao Mi and Senior Song were both holding microphones as well.
Zhang Ye said, “Anyone can bring up any question during anytime in my class today, not only my students, but please note not to disrupt the class when you raise your question. It would be best not to interrupt me before I finish speaking about important things.”
“Don’t interrupt you?”
“What do you mean by important things?”
“Then how can you still call this raising a question at anytime?”
A few literary world members coldly grunted at this. This remark was clearly made at them.
Zhang Ye was also very direct, saying, “As for what is important or not — I will be the one to decide.”
You good rascal!
A number of the literary world members were extremely offended by this!
Professor Zeng, Su Na, and a few other Chinese department teachers all smiled wryly. It seemed like Zhang Ye had clashed with them head on!
The students and a number of reporters were all excited by this remark. The class had not even started, yet the smell of gunpowder was already extremely strong. There’s surely going to be a good show to be put on later!
“Let’s start the lesson properly then.” Zhang Ye looked at them and said, “If you don’t have any intention to ask any questions yet, then please turn off the microphone first. This is to prevent any distractions for others.” Finally, Zhang Ye took another deep breath and started the class, “In the previous lesson, we’ve mentioned a lot of things about ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. I’ve showed a number of documents as evidence to support my claims that the last 40 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ on the whole was not originally written by Mr Cao Xueqin. I’m sure people have verified this information when they got home yesterday. Little Song, have you done the necessary homework regarding this?”
When Senior Song realized that Zhang Ye had called her out, she calmly stood up and switched the microphone on, “I’ve done so. The evidence that you presented does indeed exist, and….I can’t argue with any of them for the time being.”
Zhang Ye looked at the others, “Students, who else would like to refute what I presented yesterday? If there’s no one, we can continue from there.”
The Peking University students did not speak.
Even those from the literary word were a little hesitant before finally not saying a word.
What Zhang Ye had presented as evidence to his claims yesterday were indeed quite substantial. In addition to this, they did not really have any other information that they could use to refute what he said. However, this did not mean that they accepted the evidence. Those few poems were still lacking and were not authoritative enough.
Zhang Ye nodded and said, “Since no one has any information to refute, then let us end the previous lesson at that for now. We will not mention it for the time being.”
Meng Dongguo was stunned.
Ma Hengyuan also frowned.
Not mention? This was something unexpected to those literary world members. Yan Yu, the Vice-President of the National Writers’ Association was also slightly surprised. To be fair, the evidence was good and had research value. They had expected that Zhang Ye would try to hammer his points home by repeating that information again and again. Since no one could refute them, nor did they have any materials to do so with, Zhang Ye could bite onto this and not let go. Who’d have thought that he would give up on this himself!
What was he up to?
Without these, could you still go on?
Elder Qian lightly nodded his head. In terms of academics, Little Zhang was rigorous. He did not grab on to the past and instead elaborated from different angles. This was the attitude required for one to be an academic, and only through this could they convince everyone. Otherwise, with back and forth debate over the same thing, even if they thought it was quite logical, no one would be convinced by their views.
But Chang Kaige and Zhen Shuquan were still a little worried. This Little Zhang better not play with fire!
Zhang Ye said calmly, “I know that everyone is still doubtful of the information that I presented during the first lesson. Some of you might not even believe it, but did not say a thing as you cannot refute it. So why don’t we just skip all of this instead. In the previous lesson, I had brought up the points from the angle of historical literature to prove my claims. So then today, I will be chatting with everyone here on the text contained within the 120 circulated chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. I will present to you a whole different way to backup my claims!”
Everyone’s mind was engrossed by now.
The venue had become very quiet all of a sudden.
After a second, Zhang Ye opened his mouth, “Those who were listening intently enough might be wondering why I phrased my words that way. Yesterday and today’s wording, I keep saying chapters after the eightieth on the whole. If not, I would say the last 40 chapters of the 120 circulated chapters, but if you recall, I never said anything about the last 40 chapters of Cao Xueqin’s ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ in any way. Some might be wondering, why don’t I say the last 40 chapters of Cao Xueqin’s ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’?”
Senior Song blinked.
Senior Zhou also began recalling.
It was really so! Teacher Zhang Ye really didn’t mention any of that!
“Why is that so, Teacher Zhang?” Yao Mi switched on her microphone and asked.
Zhang Ye replied lightly, “This is precisely the topic we will be talking about today. Why did I not mention that? Then I will tell everyone right now. Cao Xueqin’s full version of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was never 120 chapters!” Zhang Ye looked at everyone as he once again shocked the reporters, students, and literary world members at the beginning of his second lecture. “The real, original version of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was only supposed to be 108 chapters!”
Ma Hengyuan sat there speechless!
Meng Dongguo and the others from the literary world all smacked their heads!
108 chapters? Zhang Ye ah! Are you intending to tear apart ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, one of the Four Great Classical Novels, from top to bottom and from the inside out?
You are spouting more and more nonsense!
The students also erupted into a flurry of discussion!