Chapter 327: Applause. Everyone Stands Up!
There was a flurry of discussion!
“Jia Zheng again?”
“Why is Jia Zheng faulted?”
“Where did it write about Jia Zheng’s crimes?”
“Isn’t that nonsense? A bigger crime than hiding illegal fortunes?”
“For such a good man of the Jia family, other than the previous crime, what did he do?”
The people who had read ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ could not remain silent. They began discussing with the people sitting around them, exchanging their opinions and views. All of them were confused by Zhang Ye’s words.
A Redologist said, “Zhang Ye, don’t change topics.”
Zhang Ye smiled and said, “I’m not changing topics. I’m talking about the same matter.”
The same matter? Which eye of yours sees that it is the same matter? Teacher Yang glanced at him, “Alright then. Explain to us Jia Baoyu’s poem first. A plot no one can explain can be explained by you? I’m all ears.”
Numerous pairs of eyes looked towards the podium!
There were now 5000-6000 people present, waiting for Zhang Ye’s answer!
Zhang Ye also said very seriously, “Sure, but let me be clear first. What I’m going to say is my personal opinion. If you think it’s right, you can listen to it. If you think it’s wrong, and have other conclusions or your own analysis, it’s alright. We can discuss amongst ourselves. Then, let’s return the problem from before. Why did Jia Baoyu write such a poem? Teacher Yang has mentioned it already, but let me add on a bit more. It’s still in chapter 78. It was written in the beginning that Jia Baoyu had praised Winsome Colonel and had composed a long poem. As for the second half, he laments Skybright. He wrote ‘The Spirit of the Hibiscus: An Elegy and Invocation’. In this poem, he pours out his feelings and his bitterness against the feudal system. Then is Jia Baoyu suffering from a split personality? This failure seems too serious. So what is going on?”
What’s going on?
We are asking you!
A few people from the literary world nearly died of infuriation from Zhang Ye’s “teasing” speech. Your sister, tell us! Stop teasing!
Despite them impatiently waiting for Zhang Ye to suffer, Zhang Ye was in no hurry. He took another sip of his Pu’er tea and moistened his throat. He placed the thermos flask down before he said, “Alright, then let me tell you what is going on. Everyone says this is one of the failures of Cao Xueqin, and it’s a stain of ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, but the reason why everyone thinks this way is because no one understands Cao Xueqin’s intentions. They did not see the hidden trick hidden in this passage. First, we need to solve a few problems. Number one, the Winsome Colonel Jia Baoyu praised, did she crack down on a peasant uprising? If that was the case, then there really is no way to excuse Jia Baoyu, but what if it isn’t?”
Meng Dongguo stared. “Is there any doubt?”
Ma Hengyuan also remembered clearly. “The book’s text clearly wrote they were latter-day descendants of the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows!”
“How can you say what if it isn’t? If not, then it’s clearly written in black and white that the peasants were forming a rebel army!” A literary author who came to cause trouble said. He was a fat man.
Zhang Ye looked at the fat man, “What was written in black and white was not a peasant rebel army, but the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows. This is very important. Do not confuse them. Do the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows really represent rebels? Then let us take a closer look. We all know history. After the Qing dynasty came into power, they caused a huge massacre. They pushed forward a harsh ruling policy. Only after everything was in place did they relax, allowing some concessions to the peasants. Hence in this dynasty, there was no large scale peasant uprising. You cannot make an analogy to the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows as peasant rebel armies, which could bring down cities. So from a historical perspective, everyone’s understanding of the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows is problematic!”
Yan Yu was stunned.
Teacher Yang also frowned.
“The Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows in chapter 78 was not really talking about a rebel army formed from peasants, but just another name for invaders!” Zhang Ye explained.
A woman said, “Isn’t this explanation too far-fetched?”
A young Redologist said, “Besides, Jia Zheng was just casually telling a story, it might not necessarily be true!”
Zhang Ye smiled. “This friend, I do not know how deeply you have studied ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, but in my opinion, ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ is not a romantic story. It has political and social intricacies, etc. Do you think Cao Xueqin, for no good reason, made Jia Zheng come up with a baffling fictitious story about the Winsome Colonel to let the juniors come up with poems to praise her for no good reason?”
The youth was stunned. His tongue was tied.
Indeed, the text in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ was very precise, or it would not have been so difficult to study it!
“Cao Xueqin’s every word suffuses his intentions. For example, the characters in the book all have their prototypes. The story in the book have their metaphors. This episode is the same. Let us take a look at it again.” Zhang Ye’s gaze landed on the people from the literary world who sat along the first row. “The book says there was a member of the Imperial clan called Prince Heng, who had gone out to become Military Governor of Qing-zhou. Take note, in the Qing dynasty, there was an interesting feature. After they decided the capital, the sons of the Emperor were not allowed to be considered kings of cities outside of the capital.” Noticing everyone was stunned again, Zhang Ye said, “When the Princes were canonized, their residences had to be established in the capital. They were all before the Emperor’s eyes. So in the Qing dynasty, there were Princes, but never a Qing-zhou Prince Heng! Hence, the character and story offered by Jia Zheng was not in the Qing dynasty era!”
A few teachers from the History department nodded.
Professor Zeng, who was a Professor who studied both Chinese literature and history, also give a deep, approving acknowledgment.
Zhang Ye deliberately paused for a moment. Seeing that everyone was still digesting this knowledge, he said, “Then what era was it, where an Emperor would send his sons to foreign lands to become a governor?” With another pause, he gave the answer. “In the Ming dynasty, that was exactly the case!”
“Why is it the Ming dynasty?”
“The other dynasties have similar situations, right? And it was very common!”
A few Peking University students said. Although they did not hold a microphone, their voices were quite audible. They all sat in the middle-front area.
When Zhang Ye heard it, he said, “Some people must be wondering why I’m saying that the time period in the book is the Ming dynasty?” His words were filled with surprises. “That’s because in the Ming dynasty, there was a place called Qing-zhou! In addition to this, in Ming dynasty history, there was such a Prince Heng!”
Teacher Yang immediately said, “Impossible!”
“How can that be? There’s no proof!” Ma Hengyuan said with a gloomy face.
The other Redologists also stared. They all looked confused. No one understood.
There had been no studies regarding this in the world of Redology, as of yet. They had not researched this, and there was no Prince Heng, right? If there was, wouldn’t it have long been discovered?
There were quite a number of History professors and lecturers present. Quite a number of History department students had come too. However, although they studied this field, even those who did it on a daily basis would not be so free as to memorize all the Emperors in the Ming dynasty, much less those princes that were not as famous. It was impossible to verify them. Hence, many people began searching online for the information on their cellphones. Those from the literary world made phone calls to friends to verify the information. They wanted to disprove Zhang Ye and make him suffer a crushing defeat!
In a while.
Professor Zeng was the first to come to a conclusion. He frowned, “There was no such Prince Heng.”
A few other Peking University students managed to come to a conclusion from their searches. “Yes, this prince doesn’t exist. Teacher Zhang, you are wrong!”
When Yao Mi heard this, her face turned pale. Holy sh*t that can’t be. Did Uncle Zhang make a mistake? Uncle Zhang could actually make a mistake in academic issues?
Ma Hengyuan, Teacher Yang, and company were already smiling.
However, Zhang Ye also smiled. He chuckled without much worry. “Don’t be so hasty to deny it. I know. You must be checking the word ‘Heng’, the character for ‘eternity’.”
Ma Hengyuan rebuked, “If it’s not the ‘Heng’ from ‘eternity’, then what is it? Did you not see the original text?”
Zhang Ye was not mad as he said, “It is because too many people focus on the original text, which results in missing out on things that should not be missed out on. Hence, no one managed to solve this matter. Maybe no one noticed this metaphor, because the ‘Heng’ in Prince Heng of Ming Dynasty is the ‘Heng’ from the word ‘balance’!”
It was not the same ‘Heng’?
At this moment, a person from the Beijing Writer’s Association, who was making a phone call, put his cellphone down. He said in an awkward manner, “The Ming dynasty…does have a Prince Heng. And it’s the ‘Heng’ from the word ‘balance’.”
Teacher Yang said, “That…”
Meng Dongguo said in a speechless manner, “He really existed?”
Only then did they realize that Zhang Ye had f**king prepared for this. This fellow had already known beforehand that they would ask him about the problem with Jia Baoyu’s poem!
Zhang Ye said calmly, with confidence surging through it. “When writing chapter 78, Cao Xueqin used Jia Zheng as a mouthpiece, hinting at this Prince from the Ming dynasty. The pronunciation is the same, but the word changed from the ‘Heng’ in ‘balance’ to the ‘Heng’ in ‘eternity’. It was a deliberate change in this word! This is very common. These things could not be written blatantly at the time. For example, the words Cao Xueqin used to make a metaphor about the political powers with words like the ‘Moon Faction’ and the ‘Sun Faction’?”
Teacher Yang said, “What can this prove?”
Ma Hengyuan said with a raised eyebrow, “Yes, it doesn’t explain anything. It can only be said that Cao Xueqin’s story has a source, and was not fictitiously spun.”
Zhang Ye asked with a laugh, “Does it really not explain anything?”
The Peking University students were all confused from listening to this. This still could not explain the fact that Jia Baoyu praised a female colonel in a feudal era. Alright, you said the background has changed. It went from the Qing dynasty to the Ming dynasty. So what if it changed? So the Heng in Prince Heng had changed, but even if Prince Heng changed into the President of the United States, that still wouldn’t explain a thing!
Some still had not figured it out, but there were, of course, smart people in the crowd!
Professor Zeng suddenly froze. He froze without any warning!
After some thought, Elder Qian suddenly gave a look of enlightenment. He could not help but slap his thigh. “So that’s the reason! So that is the reason!”
Zhang Ye looked over with surprise. “Hur Hur, looks like Professor Zeng and Elder Qian have figured it out.”
Figured it out?
Figured what out!?
What are you talking about!?
The others were still baffled. What’s this charade?
“If some one still doesn’t understand, then let me give you a hint.” Zhang Ye said as he straightened his back while resting his hands on the podium. “In the Ming dynasty, there was a Qing-zhou. Many things happened at this place. Did Prince Heng encounter an attack from attackers? I can tell you with certainty that he did. Then, who attacked him?”
An external History professor was stunned!
The Vice President of the Writers’ Association, Yan Yu lost her voice. “Attack of the Manchurian forces down South!” Saying that, she gasped. She had been stunned by her own words!
Zhang Ye smiled. “That’s right! It was the attack of the Manchurian forces down South! The Manchurian army had invaded!”
With that, the bunch of people from the literary world all understood. Their faces had looks of dumbfoundedness!
Amongst them was a thin Redologist in his forties who had not spoken a word at all. When he heard Zhang Ye’s words, he could not help but stand up out of excitement!
It was the Manchurian army!
To think that it was the Manchurian army!
Senior Song smacked her forehead hardly, “Why didn’t I think of it?!’
Senior Zhou exclaimed, “F**k! So that’s how it is explained!”
The Peking University students were all shocked by Zhang Ye’s analysis. They were so shocked that their jaws nearly fell off!
Zhang Ye’s colleague, Su Na clenched her fist and shouted with excitement, “Nice!” This new Teacher Zhang really lived up to his reputation! He was too awesome!
At this moment, no one believed that him saying that he was able to “explain all logical problems” was bragging!
He really explained it all!
The logical problems posed by everyone had all been explained by him!
Zhang Ye’s next sentence struck a chord in everyone’s hearts. “Hence, sometimes, the truth is not as simple as it seems on the surface. Take a look, just the Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows in the book was nearly ignored by everyone, right? If we just analyzed Jia Baoyu’s poem, and used his personality to probe, we would never be able to solve this mystery in our entire lives. We would not be able to study ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’ well. By helping you in this analysis, the result is obvious, right? The attackers referred to as Yellow Turbans and Red Eyebrows were actually the Manchurian army! Hence, what sort of figure was Fourth Sister Lin? What sort of figure did Jia Zheng want Jia Baoyu to praise? It was during the collapse of the Ming dynasty, when Qing-zhou was in a time of distress. The male officials were advocating surrender, but she stepped forward, leading a female army against the Manchus. She was a heroine!”
Everyone was already dumbfounded listening to this!
Teacher Yang, Ma Hengyuan, and company were already shocked beyond words!
Zhang Ye spread out his palms. “Now the mystery has been unraveled. Everyone gives an ‘oh’, and you all understand. The reason is that simple? Yes, the answer to riddles are usually that simple. Did Jia Baoyu’s artistic image collapse? No, not at all. In chapter 78, Jia Baoyu’s long poem was in fact praising a heroine that resisted the Manchus! Jia Baoyu was anti-Qing to the bone! And what did Jia Zheng do? He was doing an extremely dangerous task. It was almost the crime of rebellion! This is also the second crime of Jia Zheng I mentioned. This is his biggest crime. This is the true reason why the Jia family was convicted! It had little to do with Jia She! This is also what Cao Xueqin foreshadowed and divulged in the first 80 chapters! He had nearly told us in a very clear manner!”
With this explained, Zhang Ye followed up on the problems with the plot in the chapters after the eightieth, which he left midway. He moved his attention back to it, and summarized it together. He had used Jia Baoyu’s praising of the Winsome Colonel to prove his point, and had also ended this at the perfect point. He said. “This is also why I cannot accept the chapters after the eightieth. We can see that the reason for the Jia family’s conviction was all due to Jia Zheng! It was Ning-guo mansion! So the plot happening in the chapters after the eightieth in the 120 circulated chapters cannot be written by Cao Xueqin! This is a fact that is without doubt, with no room for discussion! I have provided all the evidence today! I wonder if anyone still has any doubts?”
No one dared to answer him!
Zhang Ye looked at the time. “There was an extension of twenty minutes. There’s only two minutes left. If you have no doubts, you can also ask any question.”
Still, no one responded!
The bunch of people from the literary world were shriveled up!
The students also did not make a sound!
A drop of sweat rolled down Zhang Ye’s forehead. Come on guys, the last time after class, there were numerous people surrounding me. Just now, there were people who insisted for the class to continue. Why are you guys all silent when I request questions from you to alleviate any of your doubts? Alright, forget it. Zhang Ye began keeping his documents. “Then, let us end the class. That is all.”
Zhang Ye slowly arranged his documents. As he turned around, he was prepared to go off stage to go back home.
But at the instant that he turned around, the sound of someone clapping suddenly erupted from the silent audience. In a split second, a wave of applause that was like a flood nearly blew off the roof of the Grand Auditorium of Peking University! That feeling was like a bomb had exploded!
There was a huge round of applause!
One hundred people…
One thousand people…
People successively stood up. In the end, all the 5000-6000 Peking University students present had all stood up. Everyone was clapping with all their might. No one left, but were just standing there giving a standing ovation to Zhang Ye!
Wu Zeqing also stood up and clapped along with them!
Chang Kaige, Zhen Shuquan, Su Na, Professor Zeng, and other Peking University Chinese department teachers all stood up. They gave a thunderous applause!
Teacher Yang also sighed.
Ma Hengyuan and Meng Dongguo remained in their seats without any grace. Many people from the literary world were the same. They pretended not to notice.
However, the National Writers’ Association’s Vice President, Yan Yu, who could be said to be the leader of this bunch of people, slowly stood up. She looked towards Zhang Ye and gave him a gentle applause.
Meng Dongguo was astonished, “President Yan!”
“This…” A few colleagues from the literary world looked at each other.
The Vice President was also applauding? They could no longer put on airs. They hurriedly got up one by one.
Before coming, Yan Yu had come with bias. However, after the lesson, after listening to Zhang Ye’s fantastic and heart-stopping analysis and lecture of “Dream of the Red Chamber” from different angles, Yan Yu had nothing better to say. Truthfully, she was still unhappy about Zhang Ye’s attack on the literary world with his limerick. She also did not like Zhang Ye’s temper and character, but in academics, Yan Yu was completely convinced by Zhang Ye’s talent and his research in ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’! This was the reason why she stood up and why she gave her applause. This applause was not for Zhang Ye, but her heartfelt thanks to Zhang Ye’s contribution to academia!
The reporters were all extremely excited. They began to take all sorts of pictures.
Before the public lecture, who would have expected Zhang Ye’s second lecture to be so one-sided? The people from the literary world had come with a forceful stance, in a bid to dismantle him, but all of them had been dumbfounded by Zhang Ye alone?
Translators’ Notes: Just click it. ‘Nuff said.