The Story of the Stone

Save the date. We will be discussing a book generously given to me in appreciation of small helps by our colleague in Sociology, Professor Xiaodan Zhang. The Story of the Stone (often referred to as The Dream of the Red Chamber), a Chinese classic from the 1760's by Cao Xueqin.
When Jan 28, 2014
from 12:00 PM to 02:00 PM
Contact Name
Contact Phone 718-262-2649
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After the three-volumes (which include only the 80 chapters known to have been written by Cao, but not the concluding 40 of various and sometimes unknown authorship) sat on my shelves for a few years, my sense of gratitude found the occasion to provoke me to start reading. Of course I read The Story of the Stonein translation, by the English scholar David Hawkes. I had been warned (but not by Xiaodan) that I might not find it interesting, but that turned out to be way off. I was delighted and captivated, reading about 1500 pages in every spare moment I could make. Imagine "Upstairs, Downstairs," but in 18th century China and by a great writer. You would be hard put to find dialogue, repartee, and poetry to match it, coming more often from the mouths of servants than from those they serve, and, with the exception of Bao-yu (born with the stone in his mouth and named for it), always by a woman, often a girl.

It seems to me that a discussion of this great classic, known to every person who has received a traditional Chinese education, ought to be known more widely on our campus.

I am proposing a meeting on campus, perhaps with lunch, on Tuesday, January 28th, 12-2 pm, room 4M07 the first week of classes, during club hours, but being the first week of classes, no meetings are likely to have been scheduled. I am hoping that there are among us others than those I already know who have read Cao's classic and still others who will be moved to do so and to join me in discussion. Please let me know if you are interested.

- Dr. Howard Ruttenberg,Professor
Department of History and Philosophy