Professor Li-chuan Ou, Department of Chinese Literature, NTU
This course divides the study of The Dream of the Red Chamber into cultural and character aspects. Culturally, due to the book’s broad coverage of Chinese literature and culture, we will focus on the themes “Use and Interpretations of Myths,” “Prophetic Expressions,” “Modes of Epiphany,” “Modes of the Sage,” “Comedic Spirit,” “Mother-idolization,” “Worship of Teenage Girls,” “The Design and Meanings of the Grand View Garden,” and “Lyric Expressions” to mine its historical depths and appraise its value as the culmination of previous works.
In terms of characters, to avoid the traditional Redology tendency of unidirectional flattening which trends toward conclusions of simplified and polarized moral judgments, this course will adopt a dual-strand interpretation method involving “Organic Plot Links” and “Character Personality Enrichment.” Overall comparison and integration will be conducted by discovering internal evidence in frequently overlooked plot points. Other narrative processes generally perceived as self-evident will also be re-examined to clarify causality and developmental context, and present the polyphonic world with which The Dream of the Red Chamber broke through univocal monologue. Figures who have become almost stereotypical will regain the rich connotations of round characters, including Lin Tai-yu, Chia Pao-yu, Hsueh Pao-chai, Chia Yuan-chun, Chia Tan-chun, Chia Ying-chun, Chia Hsi-chun, Liu Lao-lao, Ching wen, and Hua Hsi-jen , among others. These characters and others are the results of objective discovery and artistic representation by Tsao Hsueh-chin . It is hoped that a more innovative interpretation as well as deeper understanding of this great classic might be provided through the aspect of character theory.
(Please go to NTU OpenCourseWare for completed episodes http://ocw.aca.ntu.edu.tw/ntu-ocw/index.php/ocw/cou/101S120)