Chapter 321: Unprecedented!
“That’s impossible. I’m fainting!”
“Teacher Zhang won’t stop till he scares you to death!”
“Why does it have to be 108 chapters? Why is the number so precise?”
There was quite a stir from the seats. From the Peking University students’ expression and speech, they showed their distrust. They could not believe nor accept it. After all, the 120 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was entrenched too deeply in their hearts. We could forget that you said that the chapters after chapter 80 of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were written by someone else, but now, great. You even denied the number 120?
The Redologist, Old Yang, immediately refuted, “Nonsense!”
Teacher Yang’s voice was very loud. The venue quickly quieted down!
The students all looked to see who had spoken. As the voice was output from speakers through the microphone, they could not tell the source of the voice. They could look around with their eyes. Finally, they found the person who spoke. Everyone looked towards the first row, where all the figures from the literary world were sitting.
“There’s a recording. How can you shout like that?!”
“That’s a Redologist, his surname is Yang. I’ve previously seen his lecture materials.”
“I also know this Teacher Yang. He has been studying ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ all his life. He’s pretty famous.”
The Peking University students all knew that the literary world was beginning to dismantle Zhang Ye.
Meng Dongguo also spoke. He was one of the people who held a microphone. He looked at Zhang Ye and said in an impolite tone, “What makes you say that? To study Redology, one needs to talk about evidence. Even though you provided a Qing dynasty poet’s poem yesterday, with a note saying ‘Chapters after the eightieth were all supplemented by Lanshu’. Ignoring the note, even if that were the case, it only mentioned ‘after the eightieth”. How did this number 108 appear? Is there information recording the chapter titles of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’?”
Zhang Ye said calmly, “There are no records.”
The Writers’ Association’s Vice President Yan Yu said, “Then how do you know?”
Zhang Ye smiled and was not bothered by their refutes and doubts. He said, “I previously mentioned that I would not be analyzing them from a historical standpoint with information today. I only want to use the original text to analyze and explain. Sometimes, the information can be a lie, or in various ways, indeterministic. However, we are studying the book, ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, so we need to study its contents. That cannot be a lie. It’s also the most irrefutable evidence. Why do I dare say that ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ has 108 chapters instead of 120? The proof is in the book!”
He took out the information.
This time, there was a Peking University staff member off stage who helped Zhang Ye sort the documents. According to Zhang Ye’s request, he would project it on screen.
Everyone frowned upon seeing it.
“What is that?
“Isn’t this the original text of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’?”
“What’s there to see? I’ve seen it numerous times!”
Zhang Ye leisurely pointed to the screen. “This is the most authoritative 120 circulated chapter version of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ that one can buy on the market. I believe many amongst you have already read it. Some of you have read it more than once, and might have even read it eight or ten times. Some might have dissected it in various ways to research it. Then why would I take this out today? The reason is to help everyone recall something. This is because everyone has overlooked important information and missed the great secret hidden within ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. According to my research, I can tell everyone that Cao Xueqin’s ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ has an internal textual structure. It is a book with a nine by twelve format!”
“Nine by twelve?”
“How can you tell?”
“Why have I never discovered such a rule?”
The students were surprised. The people from the literary world looked unconvinced.
Even Redologists, like Yan Yu and Teacher Yang, had never researched or proved this rule. The people of this world didn’t even think of it. This was because they had always believed the 120 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were all written by Cao Xueqin. Naturally, their thinking was restricted as a result. It was not that this world’s people were not as intelligent as those from Zhang Ye’s world, but rather it was due to certain objective factors.
This conclusion was suggest by Mr Zhou Ruchang from Zhang Ye’s world. Liu Xinwu’s “The True Ending of the novel ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’” also mentioned it.
Zhang Ye said to the audience, “Cao Xueqin’s ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ is very strict. In general, every nine chapters is one unit. The book has a total of twelve, nine-chapter units. ” With a slight pause, he continued, “I can tell many do not believe this. Then shall we discuss this in depth? Yes, let’s look at the first 80 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ that we all can read together. It can be clearly seen that the first chapter to the ninth chapter is a unit. And the ninth to the eighteenth chapter is another unit. Two times nine is eighteen. Let’s first look at the first unit. Does everyone remember what the eighteenth chapter is about? What is stated in the book? It writes about the Imperial Concubine’s paying a visit to her family!”
The screen changed to Chapter 17 and 18 of “Dream of the Red Chamber”.
Most people had basically seen the original, so a scan of the screen made them easily recall. No one said anything, as they waited to hear Zhang Ye’s explanation.
Zhang Ye carried on. “Redology research today has already come up with a conclusion. They have decided that the Jia family’s fate was a result of two very important woman. One is Qin Keqing, while the other is Jia Yuanchun. I agree with this conclusion and strongly agree with it. Then in the first eighteen chapters, it also shows how important these two women are to the Jia family. Qin Keqing died in the thirteenth chapter. Who is she? The results of Redology studies say that she is Prince Yizhong’s daughter. She was hidden in the Ningguo Mansion. Her true identity was not that of an abandoned infant that he had adopted from an orphanage. This also laid the foreshadowing of the tragic ending. However, the Jia family carried on their plans concurrently and sent Jia Yuanchun into the Imperial Palace, obtaining the favor of the Emperor. She was conferred the title of highest-ranking imperial concubine and granted her the rights to pay a visit to her parents. Hence, in the eighteenth chapter, the Jia family reaches a state of ‘oil scorched on a violent fire, or fresh flowers decorated with brocades’. Hence from Chapter 1 to Chapter 18, Cao Xueqin has presented to us with these important characters’ relationships and an important part of the story! Then from Chapter 19, it begins to write about romantic amours, and writes about Jia Baoyu’s emotional life. Do you see that? The structural distinction is very clear!”
One wouldn’t know without thinking, but the moment they thought about it, they were shocked!
Senior Song was stunned. It seemed, it seemed like that was the case!
The other Peking University students took it with a grain of salt, and waited for him to continue.
Zhang Ye glanced at the audience’s reaction and said, “Then, Three times nine is twenty-seven, and four times nine is thirty-six. The general plot here is where Cao Xueqin focuses on Jia Baoyu’s emotional life in Prospect Garden. As well as his love with Lin Daiyu and his delicate relationship with Xue Baochai. When we reach the thirty-sixth chapter, Cao Xueqin ended all these emotions. Do you remember what he wrote?” He then pointed to the screen. “Learning hard facts at Pear-tree Court!”
The first row finally produced the sounds of discussions.
Yan Yu had a quiet exchange with Teacher Yang with his eyebrows frowned. Meng Dongguo and Ma Hengyuan were either pondering or discussing with their surrounding friends. They were all very quiet.
Zhang Ye said, “As for the specific plot, I will not talk anymore about it. The general idea is that Jia Baoyu thinks that all the young girls should love or like him, but the performer did not act that way. Jia Baoyu had an important sublimation to his understanding of emotions. He knew he could not force things that did not belong to him, and that everything was fated. This is another way that Cao Xueqin uses to express his understanding of life through the novel. See, this is another division.”
The crowd did not respond.
It was unknown if they were pondering or shocked.
Zhang Ye laughed. “Everyone should already have a feeling. You can carry on thinking. Ponder over it and listen on to my lecture. The next plot’s unit is Chapter 54. Five times nine is forty-five, and six times nine is fifty-four. Since I said ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ has 108 chapters. Then as the middle divisor at chapter 54, clearly it is an extremely important divisor. And indeed, that is the case. What was written here? It writes about the golden era of the Jia family. It reaches a position that could not be any higher. They celebrate New Year’s Eve and have a feast. They enjoyed all forms of splendor, and what happened after the opera? Just a shout of rewards, and they would take a basket to pour money for the performers. Their riches reach an extreme point. However, great pleasure brings about sadness. A cup will overflow when it’s full. By chapter 55, Cao Xueqin begins to write how the Jia family experiences internal and external difficulties. In the first 54 chapters, it writes about the Jia family’s flourishing growth. In the last 54 chapters, it begins to write about the decline of the Jia family, eventually leading to nothing. Hence, everyone can see that the division is very clear. Cao Xueqin’s textual structure is very strict!”
Yan Yu turned silent. This…
Teacher Yang also pondered with a gloomy expression.
Senior Zhou raised his hands to ask, “Then why is it twelve?”
Zhang Ye laughed. “Why nine times twelve. Why would this constant twelve be used? Actually, it is very obvious. You can understand just from reading the first five chapters. Jia Baoyu dreams of entering the Land of Illusion, where it is led by the Fairy of Disenchantment to the Board of Ill-fated lives. There he secretly read the records. In the records, it recorded the fate of the women in Jinling. Then how were these pages split? I would like to know how many people were there on that list?”
Yao Cui immediately stood up. “There were twelve! Twelve Beauties of Jinling!”
“Yes.” Zhang Ye asked again, “Then what about the secondary records, and what was inside the secondary records?”
Senior Zhou exclaimed, “It was also twelve.”
Zhang Ye said, “Then the Fairy of Disenchantment entertained Jia Baoyu and got the fairies to sing songs. How many songs were there?”
Senior Song blinked her eyes and took over the microphone to answer, “It’s the twelve songs of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’!”
“Yes, then about the performer I previously mentioned, how many of them were there?” Zhang Ye asked again. “Did anyone pay attention to them?”
Many students could not answer for they could not remember. They did not read it in such detail.
However, Wu Zeqing smiled and said, “Twelve. They were collectively called the Twelve Performers of the Red Chamber.”
Zhang Ye smiled. “Yes, see everyone. Cao Xueqin had been using the number twelve throughout the whole book. Together with how chapter 54 being such an important divisor, I believe it’s obvious now? Hence, I cannot accept the 120 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ currently circulated. This is because Cao Xueqin’s original ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ only has 108 chapters! So, only the first 80 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were written originally by Cao Xueqin. The last 40 chapters were written by Gao E, or some anonymous writer. And that person continued it unreliably. This is because what follows the first 80 chapters is not supposed to be 40 chapters, but rather 28 chapters!”
With this, those people from the world of literature could not sit still any further!
You can say it this way?
You can even explain it this way?
It can be analyzed this way?
Teacher Yang, who had been studying ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ all his life, was stunned upon hearing this!
Zhang Ye’s analysis from this angle was unprecedented!