Chapter 326: A Plot No One Dares to Touch in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’!
In the Grand Auditorium.
The Peking University students all revealed expressions of admiration.
Just as Zhang Ye’s theory was increasingly taking the upper hand, and just as he was about to end the second class on a high note, a voice echoed.
“Zhang Ye.” It was the Redologist, Teacher Yang.
Zhang Ye looked at him. “Teacher Yang, please speak.”
Zhang Ye did not know him, but this person had doubted him on Weibo. His tone was not very polite, and he had used his picture for his Weibo picture, so Zhang Ye recognized him at a glance. This person was very authoritative and influential in the world of Redology. It was the same with Yan Yu. Previously when he was questioned, he had used “Vice President Yan”. The Vice President of the nation’s Writers’ Association was naturally famous. Zhang Ye had already adapted to this brand new but slightly different world. He was no longer as unfamiliar to this world’s celebrities. He was no longer like he had been in the past where he did not know anything. He was slowly learning and familiarizing himself with this Earth’s people and matters.
Teacher Yang did not ask him directly, but deliberately paused for two seconds. Maybe it was to let the focus fall on him and for the cameras to train themselves on him.
He was in frame!
The Peking University students’ gaze were on him!
Only then did Teacher Yang say slowly, “I have basically not talked from the beginning. I was listening to you speak and I have to admit that your analysis and understanding has reached a certain standard. However, I’m not sure if others have noticed it. You have been using counter examples. For example, how the Jia family was convicted of their crimes. You are using a method of denying the logical conflict that exists in the chapters after the eightieth and the first 80 chapters to prove your point. This is not comprehensive and just single-faceted. Hur Hur. Let us use the simplest method. We can actually use this method to prove that your theory is unreliable.”
Zhang Ye smiled and said, “Sure. Please do tell.”
Teacher Yang hissed in his heart. However, he said very casually, “You think you can explain everything? That’s a bold claim! Let me tell you the secret and problem in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ that no one can fully explain!”
Zhang Ye only smiled and remained silent.
A young Redologist said, “Teacher Yang, since Teacher Zhang Ye has the confidence and knowledge, then why don’t you ask him a logical problem in the first 80 chapters that cannot be explained?”
Teacher Yang said, “Yes, I’ll ask that.”
These two sang to each other’s tunes and were quite harmonious.
Zhang Ye smiled without a word. He gave a posture of listening devoutly and respectfully.
Wu Zeqing turned her head to look at Teacher Yang before turning her head back.
Chang Kaige and Zhen Shuquan were all worried for Zhang Ye. This bunch of people had studied “Dream of the Red Chamber” nearly all their lives. At the least, they had studied for five to six years. Their logical reasoning and analysis might not be better than yours, but they were still experts at picking errors!
Little Zhang, can you do it well?
Don’t stumble here!
Everyone had different expressions. All of them were thinking differently!
Teacher Yang spoke as he stared at Zhang Ye. “Since you said that only the first 80 chapters of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ were written by Cao Xueqin, and said that the problems in the first 80 chapters were minor errors that Mr Cao failed to modify in time, but a character’s personality exists through the entire text, so there cannot be any mistakes. You gave an example of how Grandmother Jia had a change in personality after chapter 80, and how Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu changed personalities after the eightieth chapter. This was all what you previously stated, right?”
Zhang Ye said, “Yes, of course.”
“Alright.” Seeing that he had taken the bait, Teacher Yang crossed his legs and said, “Since you just mentioned the matter of Jia Zheng’s crime, then you must know that in this plot segment, there was another story. It’s the problem with Jia Baoyu’s poem. Why did you purposely avoid it?”
Jia Baoyu’s poem?
Holy sh*t! Can you not be so ruthless!? You actually asked this?
Chang Kaige and the other lecturers of the Chinese department immediately turned blue in the face!
Yan Yu did not expect Teacher Yang to directly ask this question. This was the truly fatal question!
Senior Song was slightly stunned. Previously, when she met the Jinshi female reporter outside, she had said in her interview about her thoughts on this problem. She was wondering if Teacher Zhang Ye would avoid this logical error in today’s class. Apparently, Zhang Ye did not mention this throughout the class, so Senior Song did not plan on asking. She was afraid that Teacher Zhang Ye would be shamed if he failed to answer it were she to ask, but who knew that someone else had asked the question!
Teacher Yang looked relaxed. “That is the question I wanted to ask. This is a major logical error. And this happened before chapter 80. What was written in chapter 78? Jia Zheng suddenly called his two sons and a grandson to compose poetry before him. And what was the topic? He got them to compose a poem to praise a woman, Fourth Sister Lin. She was also known as the Winsome Colonel. This was written clearly in the text. Jia Huan later wrote a poem. Jia Lan also wrote one. Jia Baoyu also did it. He wrote a long ballad. He even went to great lengths to praise Winsome Colonel. During the process, some of Jia Zheng’s guests also applauded him. Finally, Jia Zheng also praised him. Now, here comes the problem. What’s the matter with Fourth Sister Lin? The story was in Qing-zhou. There was a Prince Heng, who recruited a large number of beautiful women to train in military arts. The leader was Fourth Sister Lin. Later on, when a horde of bandits started to rebel, the city walls could not hold. Many people wanted to surrender to the rebels, but Fourth Sister Lin led the female army out, but died in combat. Hence, Fourth Sister Lin was a leader who suppressed the peasant uprising!”
These was known by everyone. They listened quietly.
Teacher Yang was afraid there were people who did not understand, so he said, “But what kind of artistic image does Jia Baoyu have? He was very against the feudal system of that era! He was anti-Manchu, but here, Jia Baoyu actually praised the leader who suppressed a peasant uprising? At this point, this character’s personality suddenly collapsed. Zhang Ye, don’t you explain it away as Cao Xueqin not having edited this after he finished writing. That won’t do. Besides, didn’t you say that Jia Baoyu’s artistic image had been destroyed in the chapters after the eightieth? He changed personalities, but you have to know, that the change in the chapters after the eightieth were at least described. There was a private tutor teaching him, that led him to study eight-legged poems, but what about the first 80 chapters? There was no foreshadowing or explanation, right? Since you boasted that Cao Xueqin did not make a mistake because of his illness, then I would like to hear your explanation about Jia Baoyu’s poem!”
“Right. Tell us!” The young Redologist said with a sneer.
“That’s right Zhang Ye. There’s a problem here. How can you explain this?” Meng Dongguo said.
A woman said, “If you can’t explain it, then your theory will be overturned. There’s no use mentioning anything else! Be it before or after chapter 80, there are flaws. You can’t use that to prove anything!”
Ma Hengyuan chuckled at the sight of this. “This problem is really unsolvable. Don’t you say that this is not Cao Xueqin’s original words, and that it was added on by someone later. These poems have been validated. It was Cao Xueqin’s work. No one can imitate that. Hence, it can only be said to be Cao Xueqin’s error and failure!”
The literary world’s members had hit back and out in full force now!
Yao Mi said in a puzzled manner, “Is that such a difficult question?”
Beside her, Senior Zhou smiled bitterly, “This is one of the most mysterious problems in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’! There might not even be an answer! The Redology world has been researching this for decades and no one has been able to solve it!”
Yao Mi exclaimed, “Holy sh*t! Are these people so wicked?”
Li Ying said in a speechless manner, “Right, they are trying to force Teacher Zhang onto a path of no return!”
“Teacher Zhang Ye’s words were too bold to begin with!” Li Li said worriedly, “This is not good! He has been forced into a corner by his own words and can’t explain it now!”
At the other side, Zhang Ye’s ex-leader at the television station, Zhao Guozhou also broke into a frown, “Little Zhang has met a difficult problem this time. There’s no way to solve this problem.” He also knew a little about ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, albeit not as deeply. He had read many commentaries before and knew that Teacher Yang’s question was very difficult to answer as it was the greatest flaw in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’. Even if Jia Baoyu characteristics did change greatly later on, as did Grandmother Jia, all of these could still be swept under the rug without a lot of explanations. As for this poem by Jia Baoyu, it was impossible to sweep it under the rug. He could not even try to change the subject!
Wang Xiaomei looked up to Zhang Ye on stage, “Director Zhao, I don’t think so!”
“Hmm?” Zhao Guozhou glanced at her, “What do you mean?”
Wang Xiaomei keep a still face, “I feel that Zhang Ye already has it all planned out.” As she said that, she pointed to the stage, “Have you noticed that he is still smiling?”
Zhao Guozhou took a look, “He really is!”
Seated at the back was Hu Fei, who also knew Zhang Ye very well. When he saw Zhang Ye smiling, he knew that the rascal already knew what to say, but as to how Zhang Ye would explain it, he really would not!
Professor Zeng looked to the side, “Elder Qian, has this error been solved?”
Elder Qian shook his head, “I don’t know about that. In the research of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, Little Zhang is far ahead of me. I definitely cannot compare to him, so let’s see how he answers it.”
Zhang Ye was listening all this while, without saying a word.
Teacher Yang mocked, “You can’t explain?”
“Why aren’t you speaking?” The young Redologist said.
Zhang Ye’s expression looked casual. “It’s not that I’m not speaking, but it’s because it’s too chaotic. There’s too much discussion, so even if I speak, no one would be able to hear me.”
With that, the audience immediately turned silent!
No one discussed further. They were all listening to Zhang Ye’s voice.
Only then did Zhang Ye smile while holding his microphone. “Regarding the problem with Jia Baoyu’s poem, it is a persistent problem in Redology. The reason why ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ is not easily talked about is because of this. Typically, when ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ is mentioned, 100% of people would skip this when they reach this point. They would pretend to miss this segment. No one dares to talk about this part. This taboo episode has stumped countless Redologists, but here, in this public lecture, I can tell everyone…” With a pause, he said, “I can talk about this part.”
Everyone was stunned!
“You can talk about it?”
“Teacher Zhang you really can?”
“Impossible, there’s no way to explain it!”
The Peking University students all had looks of disbelief.
Only Senior Zhou and Senior Song were extremely interested. They were invigorated. He could really explain it? If he could really explain it, then the entire Redology world would be overturned!
To Teacher Yang, it was not a matter of believing. He didn’t even bother listening!
No one present believed Zhang Ye had the ability!
Zhang Ye stood there, as calm as ever. He maintained his smiling face and said, “And even if no one asked, I was just about to talk about it. Why? This is because this episode of Jia Baoyu’s praising of the Winsome Colonel intertwines with the second charge against Jia Zheng that I did not finish talking about. Was hoarding the Zhen family’s illegal fortunes a big enough crime? No, not at all! The development of this episode is Jia Zheng’s biggest crime! This is the thing that I revealed through my words…Jia Zheng’s heinous crime!”
Translators’ Notes: The Crayon Pop ‘DooDoomChit’ MV views is nearing 400,000 views, so you are nearly 80% the way to a free chapter!