Sunday, August 07, 2011

New word

This morning I learned a new word: redology. Redology (simplified Chinese: 红学; traditional Chinese: 紅學; pinyin: hóng xué) is the systematic study of the enormous novel. the Dream of the Red Chamber, ascribed to Cao Xueqin.

According to Chinese scholars, there are four major branches of intensive research in redology, focusing on the Seventeen Debates, the Nine Public Cases, the Four Mysteries, and the Three Dead Knots (seemingly insoluble conundrums). Consult the Wikipedia article for further details.

This work, the Dream or the Red Chamber, ranks as one of the Four Great Classical Novels (Chinese: 四大名著; pinyin: sì dà míng zhù) of Chinese literature. Dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties, they are well known to most Chinese readers.

In chronological order, they are:

Water Margin (Chinese: 《水浒传》; pinyin: shuǐ hǔ zhuàn) (14th century);

Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Chinese: 《三国演义》; pinyin: sān guó yǎn yì) (14th century)

Journey to the West (Chinese: 《西游记》; pinyin: xī yóu jì) (16th century)

Dream of the Red Chamber (Chinese: 《红楼梦》; pinyin: hóng lóu mèng) (18th century)

A fifth major work. the Jin Ping Mei, or Plum in the Golden Vase, clearly belongs in this company; however, it has encountered some official disapproval because of its explicit sexual scenes.

My library contains translations of all five. However, I confess that, because of their intricacies, I have only been able to get all the way through Water Margin, which is an outright adventure tale.



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