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Chinese Writer:Liu Xinwu

http://www.chinese.cn 12:59, November 2, 2009 chinaculture.org

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Decoding A Dream of Red Mansions with a new touch

Liu Xinwu has been a major cultural flashpoint in China since he first elaborated on his own ideas and conceptions about the Chinese literature classic A Dream of Red Mansions on a televised cultural forum in 2005, giving birth to many discussions and disputes.

Last October, the magazine Artistic Review published a huge amount of criticism from mainstream scholars on the studies of the book, with just a brief response from Liu.

Meanwhile, his ideas have ignited tremendous discussion among the readers as well. On an internet poll about Liu's decoding of the literature classic, more than 17,000 people participated, but with a take different from that of the scholars: Nearly 80 percent of the attendants thought that "Liu has extended the possibilities on the studies of A Dream of Red Mansions, and the effort is positive."

Liu Xinwu
Liu's lecture on CCTV

Accordingly, Liu's lecture on CCTV(China Central Television) continued in November, while the discussion on Liu and the classic A Dream of Red Mansions marches on as well.

There are a lot of different ways to study the ancient Chinese classic, and the focus has been on textual researches rather than the book itself in recent years. Liu put his major effort in reading the original book.

"Some people want me to present my evidence; my major evidence is the book itself. I have been working very hard on intensively reading the texts."

"Personally, it is fun for me in the first place, and at the same time, I gained something out of it. There are a lot more ways to study the book, and this is just one of them," noted Liu, adding, "the purpose of my research is to steer people to read the magnum opus."

However, Liu does not think his work is something in the tower of ivory. "Literature, especially a book like A Dream of Red Mansions, cares about reality" said Liu. "The book attaches a great deal of importance on the notion of equality. I cannot solve the social problems as a scholar, but at least, I have participated in discussing them by learning and writing about this great book."

According to Liu Xinwu,A Dream of Red Mansions a name card for China that should be cherished, respected, and researched by Chinese people: "Les Miserable by Victor Hugo is a great book, but it appeared later than A Dream of Red Mansions, and Hugo's environment is way better than that of Cao Xuqin's, especially when considering that Cao lived in an era of harsh literary inquisition. How can we not respect Cao?"

Criticizing the situation in which some people in China raise Western literature works, while debasing that of China's own, Liu said, "It's a tragedy that a lot of people know more about Shakespeare than about Cao Xueqin. We cannot look down on China's great works, but rather should research and protect it. I hope more people will read A Dream of Red Mansions."

Author Wang Meng recently published his view that the book A Dream of Red Mansions was all written by Cao Xueqin himself, but Liu holds the idea that the first 80 chapters were written by Cao, and the latter 40 chapters were finished by Gao E.

"My proof comes from my intensive reading, and analysis into the leading characters Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu," said Liu.

"I have received a number of essays and materials. Some think that Cao wrote all 120 of the chapters, while others even hold the idea that there was no such person named Cao Xueqin. I am very pleased and willing to read their researches though I don't agree with them."

Liu further elaborated on his meaning: "Maybe someday I will think they are right, but now I don't. Nevertheless, disagreement does not mean disrespect. These ideas give me an impulse. It is very interesting that people can come to different conclusions according to different editions of the book. How wonderful it is that there are many different voices in the world!"

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