The 18th-century novel The Story of the Stone by Cao Xueqin is a bildungsroman, a tale of a battle between the flesh and the spirit, a mixture of mysticism, romanticism, realism and fatalism, a record of Taoist-Buddhist disenchantment and enlightenment, and a critique of a society abiding by the rules of Confucianism, and a novel of social commentary. It is a literary cri de coeur both celebrating the golden, languorous days of youth and lamenting the inevitability of their passing, and the pain and suffering all humans are doomed to endure – an eternal theme in literature. (Stone is the first important novel in Chinese literature with dark endings for almost all the main characters, and in which the hero and his beloved not living happily ever after.) It is a book of manners and observations, chronicling in meticulous details the glory and decay of an aristocratic family and the roots of this glory and decay in the social and historical confines of the early 18th century China during the last great flowering of the Chinese culture.
At this lecture, Mr. Ben Wang, Senior Lecturer at China Institute and Co-Chair of the Renwen Society, will focus his talk on the clarification, or de-mystification, of the two topics that were seldom, if ever, discussed or studied in the past. They are: 1. The chronological order in which the story of Stone is played out, and 2. The order in which the 12 ladies, heroines of the story, appear in the poems and rebuses that both describe subtly and enigmatically their respective lives and foretell their different but equally fatal and tragic endings.
Free, but advanced registration is requested.
汪班，江苏灌云人，台湾淡学江文理学院外文系士，美国西东大学（Seton Hall University）文学硕士。自1969年先后执教于哥伦比亚大学、纽约大学、佩斯大学、纽约市立大学、联合国、华美协进社等校，讲授中国古典文学、戏剧、美术、语文等课程，包括诗经、楚辞、汉乐府、唐宋诗词、元曲、明昆曲、小说《金瓶梅》与 《红楼梦》、中国文人画、昆曲、京剧以及书法等古典文化专题。历年应邀于美国著名大学与文化艺术机构作有关中国文学、戏剧、绘画等专题讲座数十次。