Chapter 309: This is the precursor of re-writing History!
The auditorium hushed up!
It was yet another comment that challenged everyone's knowledge!
A lot of them were busy thinking and digesting this argument of Zhang Ye's!
Offstage in a corner, a Peking University Economics and Management department male teacher in his fifties couldn't help but ask, "Where did this Zhang Ye come from?"
Beside him, a history department's female teacher said, "You don't know him?"
The male teacher said, "I don't really follow the news nor pay attention to the entertainment and literary circles."
The female teacher said, "This Zhang Ye has a bit of a name in Beijing. His literary qualities are very high."
The Economics and Management department male teacher said, "I can see that, that's why I'm curious as to where this genius appeared out of. I like 'Dream of the Red Chamber' very much too and have spent a portion of my time reading up about reviews and analysis of 'Dream of the Red Chamber', including some expert scholars and Redology talks, but to question who the author of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' was, only Zhang Ye alone dares to offer this view. He's really not simple." Watching Zhang Ye, who was in a relaxed state on stage, he said, "Have you all realized? Up until now, he has not used a script. He's only brought some information up on stage and the rest was done off-script. It seems like he has already fully digested the knowledge of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' right into his bones!"
The female teacher did a slight kowtow saying, "This opinion is really a novel way of thinking. If Zhang Ye did not mention it, then no one might ever consider it or question who the author of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' was." Blinking, she added on, "But even though his arguments make sense, I still have reservations on it."
The male teacher acknowledged, "We will still need to continue listening on. Just this bit of evidence alone won't do. To reverse the widely-accepted view of the novel, he would have to offer solid proof that no one would be able doubt and use extensive literary evidence and multiple points of view to prove it. Otherwise, no one would accept it!"
Behind them was a new trainee teacher who said, "I think that's all to it. After all, the Redologists have already researched 'Dream of the Red Chamber' for so many years without progress. All the literary evidence would have been looked through more than once already. Would evidence be so easy to find? The fact that Zhang Ye has managed to find these evidences to support his argument is already a miracle!"
The reporters were also whispering among themselves.
The Peking University students were all speaking in hushed tones.
"That's too godly!"
"This perspective is too scary!"
"If it's real, then....then the literary world will become a mess!"
"This is the first time I've witnessed that a lecture on 'Dream of the Red Chamber' could be given this way!"
From before Zhang Ye arrived at Peking University. From the time when Zhang Ye was first announced to be joining Peking University's Chinese department. Many people had doubted his standard and qualifications. The students might have been interested in Zhang Ye and were hoping for such an unique style of teacher, but that was mainly from the perspective of entertainment. If they were to seriously consider how good of a teacher Zhang Ye would be in 'Appreciation of the Classics'? Then I'm afraid that these Peking University students did not expect much either, not to mention the members of the education and literary world. Even Peking University's Chinese department's colleagues, the professors, and teachers kept a doubting and even distrustful attitude towards him. They were all very judgmental of Zhang Ye! And when Zhang Ye mentioned that he would be speaking about the "Dream of the Red Chamber" that no one else would dare to touch? It had caused another shocking reaction. Everyone's distrust towards him had become stronger and stronger, like Professor Yan of the Chinese department, like Dean Chang Kaige, and company. They all took Zhang Ye to be a maniac!
But as the hour passed!
At this moment right now!
As the first lesson was coming to a close!
Many people had now reversed their contempt and looked seriously at Zhang Ye as a person for the first time, to consider the 'inconceivable' viewpoint! Whether or not Zhang Ye was correct, however much they did not want to believe his view, they could only put down their resistance and pride now and admit that Zhang Ye's understanding and research of "Dream of the Red Chamber" had reached a pinnacle!
Teachers of the Chinese department?
Even Professor Wang who had previously taught this class?
Without a doubt, they knew they could not stand up to Zhang Ye in the field of "Dream of the Red Chamber" research. In this field, Zhang Ye's alternative way of handling the issues had left a majority of them convinced! Just the evidence that all of the manuscripts originated from Zhiyanzhai was enough to cause a stir in the world of Redology!
This was a big discovery!
This was a breakthrough for Redology research!
Even that poem dedicated to Gao E by the Qing dynasty poet was valuable research information!
Having listened to Zhang Ye's lecture until now, many people were left feeling incredulous. Why? Why was it that such key information and documentation had not been discovered by anyone until this moment? Was it that it had been discovered before, but not taken to be important? Why did it have to be Zhang Ye alone who realized this point? This meant that he alone had f**king disproved the whole Redology world!
More than ten seconds passed.
People finally came out of their pondering states.
Senior Song breathed in and raised her hand, "Teacher Zhang!"
Zhang Ye kept the projector transparencies and smiled. "Little Song, go ahead."
"Your discovery indeed seems very valuable, but..." Senior Song stubbornly insisted, "Even if many ancient texts of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' originated from Zhiyanzhai's edition, if we want to force it, it still doesn't answer the problem. We can't use Zhiyanzhai's comments to say that the last 40 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' were not written by Cao Xueqin. Even if Zhiyanzhai was extremely close with Cao Xueqin, and might have participated in discussions and the creative process, I still have the same thing to say. It is possible that when Zhiyanzhai wrote those comments, 'Dream of the Red Chamber' was still not completed yet. Later on, Cao Xueqin changed his mind and did not follow his original intentions. You previously refuted me saying that Zhiyanzhai's tone was very affirmative, and said that he had seen the entire 'Dream of the Red Chamber', that still lacks evidence."
Professor Zeng nodded. Little Song's sharp question was good. Academic research had to be as such. By continuously picking at flaws in an argument, and continuously searching for problems, only then could you see things clearer.
As Senior Song was saying, her thoughts became clearer, "So although many things make sense according to Zhiyanzhai's words from inference, and people of that era had never seen the entire 'Dream of the Red Chamber', while Zhiyanzhai, who was very close with Cao Xueqin, only had a general idea and outline of the story, resulting in Zhiyanzhai having such comments. This also led to the ancient texts being passed down without the complete 120 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber'. They could not record it down because no one had seen the ending plot. After Cao Xueqin finished writing 'Dream of the Red Chamber', the manuscript was for some reason sealed and saved, but was found many years later by Gao E. Only then was it spread during that period! As for why Gao E referenced Zhiyanzhai's comments, and had erroneously included it in the circulated version, this also indicates the level of Gao E's academic rigor. When he 'supplemented' 'Dream of the Red Chamber', he studied Zhiyanzhai's comments, and maybe even the complete 120 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' that was passed down contained in Zhiyanzhai's comments. As a collator, he ended up making a mistake, so the 120 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' was still written by Cao Xueqin!"
"That was well said by that student."
"Mighty Senior Song! Well said!"
"If we depended on guessing like that, then everything would be able to make sense! Teacher Zhang Ye's opinions can't really hold water! That's indeed our Straight A student, Senior Song!"
The students of Peking University were suddenly enlightened!
A few Peking University teachers also looked towards Senior Song and thought to themselves what a smart student she was!
However, Zhang Ye did not mind, and instead smiled. He looked at Senior Song and said, "Then according to what you say, people from that era have never seen the complete 'Dream of the Red Chamber'?"
Senior Song affirmed, "It has to be so. According to this inference, your opinion will be overturned. If the complete 120 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' was first spread by Gao E, the comments of Zhiyanzhai would not be able to hold."
Zhang Ye smiled as he shook his head.
"You don't agree?" Senior Song leered at him.
Zhang Ye said, "Hur Hur, actually I'm very happy. Why? Because when I first put out my views, everyone was thinking that I was making excuses. They thought that I was using some unreliable information with biased assumptions to make my arguments, but it seems that you all have realized that this situation is now switched?"
Senior Song immediately blushed, "But I'm not forcing my argument and using biased assumptions. It might be a possibility, no, it has to be like that!"
"Are you sure?" Zhang Ye asked.
"I'm sure!" Senior Song insisted firmly.
"Then you must put a question mark to the word sure. Actually, people from that era had read 'Dream of the Red Chamber'!" Zhang Ye had already finished all his preparations, so how could he be stumped by a student? He pulled out a document and projected it, "Everyone, please take a look at this."
What is that?
Poem? Another poem?
Everyone stared at it with rapt attention!
Do not ask about the marriage of the gold and jade, for it is like a spring dream when gathered, or smoke too soon departed.
Its magical spirit lost, the stone returned to the foot of Greensickness Peak, where even its ability to speak was all in vain.
Everyone looked at each other. What poem is this? Why haven't we heard of it before?
Zhang Ye said, "This document took me a long time to find in the internal system of Beijing Library. The person who wrote this poem is named Fucha Mingyi. Trusting my word, he was a small noble of the Qing dynasty, however, he was not very successful. By his time, his family had declined. His poems were also not that great. It was lower in quality than your average poems. He was not famous. The poems he wrote were mostly for his own pleasure, or spread amongst his relatives and friends. The poem anthology's name is 'Anthology of Green Smoke and Locked Windows'."
Everyone was baffled. Who was this person?
Some people searched on the internet, but found nothing.
Zhang Ye scanned everyone's expression and said, "From the looks of it, no one knows this person, but please remember Fucha Mingyi. When studying 'Dream of the Red Chamber', this person plays an important role. If everyone looks at the poem projected on the screen, it's clear that it is writing about 'Dream of the Red Chamber'. What's the meaning of the poem? 'Dream of the Red Chamber' has a story of a marriage of gold and jade. He was saying, don't ask about it, it's unbearable to recall it. Why? This was because Fucha Mingyi had seen both the marriage of gold and jade that 'was like a spring dream when gathered', then he had also seen the part of how 'smoke too soon departed'. Fucha Mingyi had seen a complete version of 'Dream of the Red Chamber'!"
Someone raised his doubts, "Is there such a person in history?"
"That's right, why hasn't the Redology world verified this poem before? Is this really writing about 'Dream of the Red Chamber'? Then why has no one discovered it before?"
"What's so surprising for him to have read 'Dream of the Red Chamber'?"
"Right, I have also seen the 120 chapters. It too has a beginning and an end!"
Senior Song also raised many doubts, as people threw questions at Zhang Ye.
In this world, Fucha Mingyi was someone no one paid attention to. As his poetry standard was mediocre, and was not considered famous, no one paid him attention. Besides, the "Anthology of Green Smoke and Locked Windows" was incomplete. The original words "Mentioning Dream of the Red Chamber" no longer existed. Out of the twenty poems that wrote about 'Dream of the Red Chamber', only three or four were left on this planet. Without a title, without any fame, and it being too obscure, it caused the Redologists of this world to not discover it. However, Zhang Ye, as a person who had crossed universes, knew the importance of this person and these poems. If no one else could discover this poem, then Zhang Ye, who knew the truth, could easily find it.
It couldn't be said that he was of a higher learning than this world's Redologists. It could only be said that Zhang Ye had seen more than them and knew about things that they didn't!
Zhang Ye said, "I see that all of you have many questions. It's alright. I will answer them one by one. First, let's talk about when Fucha Mingyi wrote this poem. According to my verification and research, Fucha Mingyi's 'Anthology of Green Smoke and Locked Windows' would list down his poems according to its year." A piece of information was projected on the screen. "Take a look. This is all verified information. Everyone can see clearly that the poems at the end of 'Anthology of Green Smoke and Locked Windows' were completed in 1781. And the poem that was about 'Dream of the Red Chamber' I showed everyone was before this. And that is to say, Fucha Mingyi had finished reading a complete 'Dream of the Red Chamber' before the year 1781. However, when did Gao E's 120 circulated chapter version of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' appear? It was 1791!"
Senior Song was stunned!
Many other people were also stunned!
Zhang Ye chuckled and said, "So the point Little Song inferred and guessed could not be established. Before Gao E, there was someone who had seen the complete 'Dream of the Red Chamber'. However, that was not the 120 circulated chapters!"
Senior Zhou supported Senior Song by saying, "Even if someone else had seen it, that's not considered proof. This Fucha Mingyi might have seen it, but it might be some ancient manuscript that was not copied by others. So others had seen it, and that complete version of the manuscript was obtained by Gao E. Only was it released by Gao E many years later."
Zhang Ye chuckled. "Did you notice? The grounds on which you are arguing are narrowing, and are becoming more and more subjective."
Senior Zhou denied with his neck tensed. "But that's the case."
"Alright, then let me show everyone else a poem. It is also a poem written by Fucha Mingyi about 'Dream of the Red Chamber'." Zhang Ye said, "If the previous poem was incomprehensible or you could not understand that it was about 'Dream of the Red Chamber', then this poem will be irrefutable proof."
The information was projected.
How many Springs, indulging in gold and jade, last, the young scion of a noble house ends in emaciation.
Where did the powdered rogue go, letting down Shi Jilun of yesteryear.
Zhang Ye explained, "What does it mean? He says the Jia clan lived a life of opulence, but it would not last many Springs. It meant such opulent lives could not last long, not more than a few Springs. Then we would immediately remember the first 80 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' that we have read. It clearly states that when the three springs have gone, the flowering time will end, spring griefs and autumn sorrows were by yourselves provoked. It says the life of luxury only lasts three years. Clearly, Fucha Minyi had seen such a prophecy in the first 80 chapters, but at the same time, he had also seen the novel's main character, young scion of a noble house, Jia Baoyu. And what was the final impression? Emaciation! Which means reduced to skin and bones!"
Many people were deep in thought.
Professor Zeng and a few others were still constantly savoring that poem.
Zhang Ye looked at everyone, "Then, I would like to ask, in the 120 circulated chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber', did Jia Baoyu ever end up in that state? Was he emaciated? Not at all! Hence, the complete version of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' Fucha Mingyi read is completely different from the 120 circulated chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' that you have all read! This is because the last 40 chapters everyone of you have read was continued by Gao E! It was not Cao Xueqin's original work!"
This proof was indeed rather important!
A few Peking University professors looked at each other!
"Old Li, what do you think?" A Chinese department teacher asked another History department teacher.
The History department teacher pondered for a moment, "I will need to verify it first." As he said so, he picked up his cellphone and made a call to a few friends. "Hello, can you help me to check out some information? Regarding someone named Fucha Mingyi......" Zhang Ye's shocking remarks no longer only affected the literary and education world. Even the history world could not escape its clutches.
A 3rd Year History department senior said, "Are the words of this Fucha Mingyi reliable?"
Zhang Ye laughed, "I have some information here about Fucha Mingyi. Please take a look before you decide if he's to be trusted or not." After he put up the information for everyone to see, he said, "The information shows that Fucha Mingyi was born later than Cao Xueqin, but that they still belonged to the same time. They had a time where their lives crossed, meaning to say when Cao Xueqin was alive, Fucha Mingyi was also alive. The information also adds on to say that the both of them had lived in the grounds of the capital, in the same surburbs, so it was very likely that these 2 people had met each other before!"
Senior Song no longer said anything.
Many others were trying hard to digest all the evidence that Zhang Ye had presented!
Zhang Ye said, "Everyone can think about it as you listen to me speak. The second half of the poem is also a very important piece of evidence. Where did the powdered rogue go? It talks about the young women in the book, who disappeared in the end. In the phrase, 'letting down Shi Jilun of yesteryear', the ancients liked to use allegories. Shi Jilun was a person from the Western Jin dynasty. His name was Shi Chong, and he was a wealthy politician who led a licentious life. However, this person's fate ended up very tragic. He lost a power struggle, and when his political rivals surrounded his manor, his concubine, named Lu Zhu, made her move. To express her resistance and loyalty to Shi Chong, she ran to the top of the mansion and jumped off, killing herself. This became a famous historical event, known as Lu Zhu's Jumping. Shi Chong was actually a terrible person and was not worthy of being pitied. From our current day viewpoint, what Lu Zhu did was nothing to sing praises about, but it's because of this, when Fucha Mingyi saw the ending of 'Dream of the Red Chamber', he felt mixed emotions. When the Jia clan was annihilated in the end, there was no character like Lu Zhu that appeared. None of those powdered young women stood forward to show any bit of resistance, so what Fucha Mingyi saw was a tragic ending. It was an ending with the Jia clan leaving the landscape desolate and bare. This was Cao Xueqin's original intent and word of 'Dream of the Red Chamber'!"
Everyone was once again riled up!
No one could think clearly anymore and did not know how to rebut him.
So Zhang Ye said, "So putting two and two together, the answer becomes clear. If we had to force it by saying that Zhiyanzhai had only heard of Cao Xueqin's outlines and ideas when 'Dream of the Red Chamber' had not been completed in writing? And after that when it was finished, it was sealed away? And thus no ancient manuscripts covered the novel after the first 80 chapters? Then how do we explain the existence of these poems by Fucha Mingyi? Isn't this already detailed enough? He had obviously read the ending of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' with his own eyes! And it was a different version to that of the 120 chapters that we have read today! And he even read it many years before Gao E! Against this backdrop, who could explain as to why such a strange situation came about?"
"Anyone? If not, then I will explain! The current version's last 40 chapters of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' were not written by Cao Xueqin!" Zhang Ye asserted once more!
At this moment, that History department teacher's friend had gotten back to him. He clearly had a friend who worked in a library. He had called them to check for him internally, so they managed to get the information very quickly!
"How was it?"
"Does this person and those poems really exist?"
When the History department teacher got off the call, he nodded solemnly at his colleagues saying, "Zhang Ye's speaking the truth. At least all of that information can indeed be verified. Fucha Mingyi really wrote those poems. His life and background were also as Zhang Ye had put it." Then he proceeded to show them the cellphone with the information that his friend had sent to him, "And it's not only these 2 poems, but there are others too. Although these poems did not mention explicitly 'Dream of the Red Chamber', their phrasings and meanings were clearly referring to 'Dream of the Red Chamber', but because this information was too obscure, if you did not pay close attention to it, you'd miss this information!"
Professor Zeng, who was seated further away, shifted seats when he heard them. He also took a look at the information, "This...."
The Peking University teachers nearby were convinced at once, not at Zhang Ye's perspective, but at his ability to do research!
Such obscure information!
A person like that who wouldn't raise an eyebrow of others!
You could even find them? You were even able to discover such a source of information?
From this alone, those Peking University teachers and professors thought that Zhang Ye was really crazy! They had already known this host named Zhang understood the Three Kingdoms rather well and could speak about it rather interestingly, but who would have ever thought that his research and study of 'Dream of the Red Chamber' would be so meticulous! It didn't even matter if his research was correct or wrong. To them, Zhang Ye was already way ahead of all of the Redologists!
Wu Zeqing smiled elegantly once more, "Looks like Teacher Little Zhang is able to carry out his responsibilities for this course?"
The Chinese department's Professor Yan Jiantao said with a heavy expression, "Many of these arguments and the evidence still needs to be verified." He still despised Zhang Ye, who came through the ranks of broadcasting rather than history or literature.
But others did not feel the same.
Anyone present could tell that if Zhang Ye could provide even stronger evidence later, wouldn't this be a precursor to rewriting History!?