Talk:Dream of the Red Chamber

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Character section[edit]

I hope that a few things should be observed when doing the write-up on the characters.

  • Do not write too long a section on each person. Detailed write-up can be split over to their own 'name article' page.
  • Do not give spoiler warnings away.
  • As far as possible, ignore (and refrain from writing about) the Gao E's 120 chapter version's ending. Those endings do not conform to the original writers' intent. 165.21.154.70 (talk) 09:22, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
This sounds like a great idea. We should move some of the details to the characters' individual pages. I will probably put some time into this in the near future. --Catch153 (talk) 07:58, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

120-chapter version controversy[edit]

Someone left a comment in the text "Please also refrain from writing about the 120-chapter ending (which was not the original writer's intent.)" In a brief survey of the Net I could not find any authoritative documentation of Cao's intent here. Can we see some references here? --Slashem (talk) 15:32, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Since there has been no reply, I have removed the comment. Please discuss here before reinstating it. --Slashem (talk) 18:19, 23 April 2008 (UTC)

These are the links: http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_aboutchina/2003-09/24/content_23134.htm and http://www.britannica.com/eb/topic-311611/Gao-E. 124.155.206.12 (talk) 03:26, 23 May 2008 (UTC)


The basic story, not controversy, is that Cao Xueqin, the original author, wrote only the first 80 chapters. He wrote an ending to the book, but it was lent to a friend and "lost," and he died before finishing a new version. Someone else who knew him and the novel well, with the pseudonym of Gao E (writer), finished it, but not necessarily the way Cao Xueqin planned the plot. There is some speculation that this is because the original ending was catastrophic, like the real family's fate the story was based upon. This could have displeased the emperor or other important people, so the second author might have changed the story to make it more acceptable.
It is generally conceded that the Gao E part of the story is not as well written as the first 80 chapters. But Gao E was apparently completely familiar with the original plot and changed only some of it, so the novel is usually published with all 120 chapters. Evangeline (talk) 15:50, 29 September 2010 (UTC)

Bonsall's translation[edit]

I'd like to suggest amending the description of Bonsall's translation as follows in order to give a more complete picture:

The typescript of another complete translation, by Dr Bramwell Seaton Bonsall, a Wesleyan Methodist missionary to China from 1911 to 1926, has been made available through the University of Hong Kong Libraries. The translation was completed in the 1950s and is accessible in pdf[2] from the library Web site. This version was accepted for publication by The Asia Society of New York but has not been officially published.

Jklai (talk) 03:39, 7 August 2008 (UTC)

Neutrality[edit]

After my editing, i've got two reverts. One for too many spelling mistakes and one for neutrality. I didn't realize where did i broke the neutrality. So please help me to improve the article, Thanks a lot! 百家姓之四 討論 (Discussion) 04:11, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

You need to write better English and also give references for your facts. As of now, the edits read very POV. Sooner or later someone will revert to the older version. 124.155.207.10 (talk) 03:13, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Copyediting[edit]

Some non-native English writers are writing something like Anglo-Chinese pidgin in this article. It must be rectified or the article will be unintelligible. 116.14.114.58 (talk) 09:36, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Please do not discourage non-native English writers. It is far easier to correct a Chinese expert's English than to find a native English speaker with expertise on this subject who also writes for Wikipedia. Evangeline (talk) 07:38, 14 October 2010 (UTC)

Details about the characters' names[edit]

I am reading Dream of the Red Chamber. I thought it would be helpful to add details about the characters' names. Someone listed the traditional Chinese names, and I included the simplified Chinese, pinyin, Wade-Giles, and translation. I realize one of the previous anonymous editors removed translations of names. It will be helpful for readers to see the translations because the book sometimes makes puns and other references to the meaning of the names. Please do not remove them. I added notes about Wade-Giles, etc. because some online resources such as Cliffnotes do not use the Pinyin names, so it will help readers' research.

If it may be helpful to readers and their understanding of the novel, do not remove it. Thank you. --Catch153 (talk) 07:56, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

袭人's name[edit]

Assails Men?! Oh man, Who would call a girl this way? Why not translate the "supposed" meaning 花气袭人知骤暖? OK I know it is hard to explain that in English, but it worths a try. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Purpureleaf (talkcontribs) 15:22, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

I bursted out laughing XD. though, it is correct, literally. Hermesw (talk) 03:57, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

It explains her name in the book (where everyone also thinks it's a crazy name to give a girl). She's a bondmaid and her new owner is the whimsical hero Bao-yü, who loves poetry. He names her after Lu You's (陆游) poem in which it is said that a flower's fragrance is so strong it "assails men." Evangeline (talk) 21:05, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

It was Baoyu's father who thought the name is crazy, not everyone.袭 doesn't mean assailing in 花气袭人知骤暖(Lu You's original poem). Surrounding or pleasing would be more suitable. 袭 is still used this way in modern Chinese.

"Garment person" is definitely wrong though. Surrounding or pleasing as the last comment suggested could be fine, but seems to lack the strong feeling. How about something like "overwhelming"? Nautilusfossil (talk) 21:03, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Simplified Chinese version?[edit]

Does anyone know if this work (meaning at least the first 80 chapters) has been published in a simplified Chinese version? I was only able to locate a traditional character version. K. the Surveyor (talk) 21:37, 24 September 2010 (UTC)

There are numerous versions published in simplified Chinese.--刻意(Kèyì) 08:03, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

FYI: Title & Translation: Red Mansions or Chamber[edit]

I wasn't sure what translated title was most standard. I ran some Google searches for each version on Google Web search and Google Book Search:

  • "dream of the red chamber" 127,000 results on the Web / About 38,000-44,100 results in books
  • "dream of red chambers" 31,600 results on the Web / About 251 results results in books
  • "dream of the red mansion" 51,500 results on the Web / About 263 results in books
  • "dream of red mansions" 4,690,000 results on the Web / About 10,400 results in books

Not the book results vary, even when searches are seconds apart. The Web results are skewed because of the TV series based on the novel. So, it seems that it is best to leave it as "Chamber" because this is how it is most commonly referred to in literature.--Catch153 (talk) 13:59, 23 November 2010 (UTC)

Removed outdated translations[edit]

I removed links to translations which might imply Wikipedia approval. The Introduction to the first says: the Rev. Bramwell Seaton Bonsall, M.A., B.D., D.Lit. (Lond,) was a Wesleyan Methodist missionary to China from 1911 to 1926. After his return to England he continued his interest in China and the study of its language and literature. In the late 1920s he obtained his Doctorate, that involved a complete translation of the Zhan Guo Ce (Chan Kuo Ts’e), the Records of the Warring States. In his retirement in the 1950s he completed a translation of all 120 chapters of the Chinese novel, the Hung Lou Meng, often known as the Dream of the Red Chamber. This was later accepted for publication by The Asia Society of New York, but the project was abandoned when Penguin announced its proposed translation by Professor David Hawkes, with John Minford. These two translations by my father, made without having access to libraries or discussions with other scholars, were probably the first to be made into English of these two complete works." ch (talk) 05:35, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

The question of authorship[edit]

Friends --

I apologize for not making more clear Haun Saussy's significant and interesting point in the phrase which has been cut twice. His article "The Age of Attribution: Or, How the "Honglou Meng" Finally Acquired an Author," Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, Reviews (CLEAR) (2003): 119-132. [1] does not simply make the point that Hu Shi established Cao’s authorship, but that the concept of “authorship” had not been important to earlier readers. It would have been relatively easy for nineteenth century readers to find Cao if that had been an important question to them, but in fact, argues Saussy, it was not. This is surprising to us today, so it seemed important to give a reliable source and to put its point carefully. Here is Saussyu’s own language

The Honglou meng (or Shitou ji) began its career in print as an authorless, somewhat mysterious piece of fiction open to multiple lines of interpretation. The identification of Cao Xueqin (ca. 1715-ca. 1763) as its main author was the great turning point in the history of its reading and holds lessons for the theory of authorship in general. For most people, that identification came in 1922 with Hu Shi's essay "A Text-Critical Study of the Honglou meng." Once an author had been added to the book, reading proceeded differently, as if Hu Shi, Gu Jiegang and others of that ilk had made all previous theorizing obsolete. But of course Hu Shi did not create the author out of nothing. The name Cao Xueqin occurs in the book's first chapter among those who have "compiled ... added to and trimmed" the novel's many versions. From then on, for most readers of the book, all sorts of interpretative and textual questions require, to be answered, a grounding in the personality and motives of Cao Xueqin himself, a definite historical individual with a life outside the novel. I would like us to consider the possibility that this is by no means a necessary development. For the first hundred and thirty years of its circulation in print, the novel was read in various fashions, for some of which an author was a far less vivid or controlling presence.

If nobody objects or comes up with a better wording, in a few days I will put a somewhat clearer version of this back into the sentence on Hu Shi. This is important in explaining how Chinese readers understood the novel and how our present day readings are different from earlier ones. Not that this should take up great space, however! Half a sentence is not excessive. ch (talk) 02:38, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Hawkes/Minford names for maids, and name translations in general[edit]

I am thinking about adding the names used by Hawkes and Minford for the maids, so as to make the character descriptions more accessible for readers of their translation (which is probably the vast majority of English-language readers). So in the "additional names" parenthesis after Xi-Ren, there would be something like "Hawkes/Minford translation: Aroma". What do people think about this? -- Danny Yee (talk) 19:38, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Very helpful. ch (talk) 04:57, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

Danny, thank you very much for adding those translations. I had added literal translations of the names a while back, but someone deleted them. I don't understand why someone did that. They are helpful in understanding some of the deeper meaning of the novel. The notably includes the songs and poems about the Twelve Beauties in Chapter 5.
Please do not delete someone's hard work unless there's a really good reason for doing so. The fact that Danny Yee added the Hawkes translations proves that someone found it worthwhile to see the names' translations.--Catch153 (talk) 02:57, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Name Translations: Should they stay or go?[edit]

Sevilledade has unilateral decided to remove the translated meanings of the names more than once. He said in the change notes "These are pretty laughable, literal translations of people's names. These are names, not suppose to have terrible literal translation of words." The names should remain that the meaning of the characters' names is significant, especially for English-speakers trying to interpret the actual Dream in Chapter 5. The names are not meant to "sound good," but they are important for research and interpretation of the novel.--Catch153 (talk) 17 November 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 205.166.51.68 (talk)

Sevillidade has quite legitimate concerns that the article not become filled with extraneous material -- I know, because some of my additions have been subtracted! We also should respect the hard work and thought Sevillidade contributes not only to this article but to a number of others, especially on Chinese novels. He may have another legitimate concern that there be some consistency across them. But in this case, it seems to me that it is useful to have the literal meanings of the names. The meanings are part of the author's intent and most would be clear to Chinese readers. I hope Sevillidade could see clear to letting them stay this time. ch (talk) 22:01, 17 November 2011 (UTC)

This is not Chinese Wikipedia. I am an American who is learning Chinese. Readers of translated editions wouldn't have any clue about the names meaning. That is why they are valuable here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Catch153 (talkcontribs) 13:24, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Note that I have not added “translations” to the names as you call them. They are the meaning of names. The Western name Alan (not my own) means "Precious." Precious is not a translation of the name Alan. It is the meaning of the name, which may be especially relevant to understanding the meaning of literature.
The meaning of Chinese names is of scholarly value. The biography of Joseph Needham, title “The Man Who Loved China, spends time explaining the meaning to Needham’s acquired Chinese name because it is of scholarly value and human interested.
Before you should remove relevant and useful information from a Wikipedia article, you should consult the talk page, not remove it outright. Doing such is vandalism. I am thankful for Sevillidade hard work, but this is not his Wikipedia. It is unwikipedian of him to remove information without consulting other Wikipedia editors.
Just because I “respect his work” does not mean I elevate him above other Wikipedia editors or the purpose of Wikipedia and its articles. As hard working as he has been, he must go through the same decision make processes as everyone else. Furthermore, his attitude has been snobbish, eliminating other people’s work with snide comments. That is unprofessional.
And WHY hasn't he said anything on the talk page?
I would bet that CH, who replied to my talk comment, is a personal friend of Sevillidade. I think your opinion is bias toward him. Do you think removing names’ meaning adds to the article?
--Catch153 (talk) 13:19, 21 November 2011 (UTC)
Accusing that the above user User:CWH is a "personal friend" and of "bias", is pretty much unacceptable on Wikipedia per "Etqiuette". I haven't said anything because no one informed me there was a conversation going on here on the Talk Page? Nor did you User:Catch153 provide any edit summary in your reverting edits in the Revision history [2].--Sevilledade (talk) 23:24, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
If these translated "meanings" are so essential, keep them. I'm just not sure that "stating" the name "Qingwen" means "Sunny Multicolored Clouds" or Hua Xiren means "Flower Assails Men" would have much relevance in studying this literary work. Further, Chinese names can often convey multiple meanings and have different interpretations, thus some of these meanings such as "Tea vapor" basically whips out any nuance or subtlety that were in the original language.--Sevilledade (talk) 23:24, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Sevilledade, for being flexible in agreeing to retain the names, though I should state for the record that I do not know who you are. I'm not sure why I would support User:Catch153 if you and I were friends. I think that this is the right thing to do even though some of the translations are indeed awkward. Perhaps we can improve them. All the best. ch (talk) 04:36, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
I owe both of you an apology. It was not right of me to accuse the two of you of being friends. I lost my temper, and it was out of line. I'm sorry.
User:Sevilledade, I want you to know how much I appreciate the work you did on this article, not to mention the others you've worked with. We are both very passionate about this novel.
Chapter 5 has the actual Hong Lou Meng dream and song, when Baoyu meets the goddess. One of the themes of the novel is fate, and that chapter explains what the fates of the Twelve Beauties will be. I took pains trying to ask my Chinese friends (I was in China at the time) to help me to understand exactly which person was alluded to. One couplet would refer to a gold hairpin and a black jade. I research the names' meanings to help me unlock the meaning of that chapter in particular. The translated meanings into English are terribly awkward and unlike English names. Nothing could be better than reading the original Chinese. But this is just meant as a small help for readers who are not literate in Chinese.
Thank you for putting up with me.--Catch153 (talk) 19:45, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Good to keep things in perspective! Thanks. Your passion is all for the better in the end. ch (talk) 20:04, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
It is much better, IMO, to update the name articles rather than to add these meanings to the novel page. Or alternatively, link them to the Wikidictionary (like so many do) so they don't get too unwieldy. DORC (talk) 11:01, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

We need a chart of the characters' relationships[edit]

We need a good chart of the characters' relationships, something like a family tree. If this were made into a graphic, it would be easy to read but hard for others to edit and improve. Suggestions?--Catch153 (talk) 19:47, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

The German Wikipedia article has a family tree (link on the left side of the English article). We might want to get opinions about the overall structure of the English article, though, before we put in another element. To my eye, the sections of long list of characters looks cluttered, but they do seem to be useful. At some point it might be the best thing to have a separate article on the characters. Already, many of them have their own articles, some of which are stubs (which is not necessarily a bad thing). User:Sevilledade, for instance, has done a lot of work on some of them and may have plans. ch (talk) 20:15, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
The family tree is a very good one, except for a small error. Jia Huan and Tanchun are borne by Concubine Zhao, not the chief wife Lady Wang. Wang only bore three children.
Also, I suggest characters dead at the start of the novel be italicized.
Thanks to User:Sevilledade, User:Catch153, User:CWH for your inputs to the article. DORC (talk) 08:21, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Proposal: New Page for Dream Characters?[edit]

I glanced through articles for a few of the other long novels, which mostly list the main characters, with a brief description. But Dream of the Red Chamber has more characters, and is unusual in that Cao Xueqin intended the names of the characters to convey something of their significance. So I agree that the meanings of the names should be on the main page, but I wonder if we couldn't make the page more reader friendly. One quick fix would be to move the "Characters" section to the end, after "Translations and Reception in the West."

Perhaps better is that we could create an independent article to which we would move "Other Notable Characters" and "Minor Characters" list and more details, such as is done for List of The Tale of Genji characters and List of War and Peace characters. The main article would have only the principle characters, with English versions of their names indicated.

My own feeling is that the second option is better, but I will hold off creating the new page until enough editors have weighed in. All the best for the holiday season. ch (talk) 18:22, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

I prefer the second option as well. DORC (talk) 12:52, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Qin Zhong and Baoyu[edit]

User DORC surely has a good point that some have put too much weight on this, but it doesn't seem right to ignore it either. So I've restored "and perhaps lovers" to the Qin Zhong section, because 1) the text of the novel clearly announces the possibility, in addition to the low minded accusations presented earlier (Hawkes Vol 1 206-209): "wait until we're both in bed and I'll settle accounts with you then." The narrator then says: "as for the 'settling of accounts,' ... we have been unable to ascertain exactly what form this took." Hawkes Vol 1 p. 300. 2) Jonathan Spence refers to Qin Zhong's "sexual initiation" with Sapientia and with Baoyu. "Ch'ing," in K.C. Chang, ed., Food in Chinese Culture (Yale University Press, 1977), p. 279.

I'd be happy to see better language than "and perhaps lovers," but there is strong enough evidence that readers are meant to have this "perhaps lovers" idea. I take this as one of the many marvelous minor touches which make the novel fascinating and resistant to definitive interpretation, so the "perhaps" seems good enough. Maybe somebody could give us an actual reference which doubts it.ch (talk) 07:44, 30 January 2012 (UTC)

Lovers? These are 13 year old boys! The author deliberately refrained from any explicit mention of puerile genital activity between them, and the most that can be adduced in support extends to something that may or may not have occurred on one solitary night. Talk of their being "lovers" (with or without a "perhaps") is far wide of the mark. It is not up to editors to provide "an actual reference which doubts [that they were "lovers"]", for the burden remains on those who would propound the idea that these two boys engaged in any sexual horseplay with each other - let alone the extravagant idea that they were "lovers". The most that can sensibly be said is they seem to have experienced a normal schoolboy crush on each other which might or might not have expressed itself in genital activity on one occasion. Put that way, it is so banal as to be hardly worth mentioning at all. Ridiculus mus (talk) 21:30, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
Ridiculus mus surely has a point and a valid concern, but offers no textual evidence or scholarly reference. Wikipedia policy is "Not Truth But Verifiability." My reading of the novel in any case leads me to think that "perhaps lovers" is the truth of what Cao intended -- that is, we don't know one way or the other and are not meant to. Jonathan Spence gives a carnal interpretation based on the surrounding imagery. Besides, Romeo and Juliet were clearly carnal "lovers" on "one occasion" and no older than Bao Yu and Qin Zhong. Again, inciting this sort of discussion is just why the novel is so great. ch (talk) 05:14, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
I am struggling to see why my comment can be disregarded on the ground that it lacks "textual evidence or scholarly reference". I am just looking at the text of the novel, and unlike ch I am not reading anything into it. Part of the trouble may be that ch considers any form of genital activity between two persons justifies denominating them "lovers" – I return to that at (2) and (3) below.
(1) To start with, let's leave Romeo and Juliet out of this. The entire play revolves around their passionate and ardently expressed love for each other – something totally absent from the case in hand where there is no internal support in word or deed for the fantastical idea propounded by ch as to Bao-Yu and Qin Zhong being "perhaps lovers".
(2) Next, just consider the thing as a matter of language. Is it acceptable, as a matter of language, to postulate that two juvenile boys hardly in their teens are "perhaps lovers", simply on the basis that they might or might not, on one single occasion, have engaged in some form of genital activity in bed at night, and who, before as well as after that night, exchange not a single word of endearment to each other which is not attributable to mere friendship? I contend that to do so is an abuse of the word "lover".
(3) That linguistic point connects with the "scholarly reference" ch offers – viz., what Jonathan Spence is said to have written about "sexual initiation" (and I have no knowledge of the man, his book, or his scholarship). It does not support the idea that Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were "lovers". Spence's assertion (if it has been correctly transmitted) is simply not based upon the text of the novel and in so far as it is a positive statement of sexual activity between the two boys, it is clearly wrong as ch admits.
(4) As to the ages of the boys, this is not, I think, in dispute, but I justify my remarks anyway: Qin Shi (Qin Zhong's sister) says they are the same age (chap.5; cf. what Bao-yu says to Qin Zhong in chap. 9 "[we are] pretty much the same age"); Qin Zhong is said to be twelve (chap.8); Bao-yu, in bantering conversation with Jia Lian and Jia Yun, hears that Jia Yun is 18, which, as Jia Lian remarks without contradiction, makes him 5 or 6 years older than Bao-yu (chap. 24).
(5) ch agrees that the text says nothing about any genital activity in the passage in question in chap. 15. According to him/her "we don't know one way or the other and are not meant to" – this alone is ground for deleting the words "perhaps lovers" from the article.
(6) Bao-yu had become heterosexually active before the events in chap. 15 (chap. 6, in his dream, and then with Aroma). Does this mean that it would be right to affirm that Bao-Yu and Aroma are lovers?
(7) All the indications are that the author regarded homosexual behaviour as deviant and an expression of perverted lust (not as an acceptable carnal expression of love). This emerges from the reference to "ugly rumours" circulating at school about Bao-Yu and Qin Zhong (chap.9), as also from the debauched character Xue Pan (treated as disgusting and despicable for his homosexual proclivities: his "enthusiasm for Lord Long-Yang's vice" as we read in chap. 9), and from disparaging remarks about Jia Lian's sexual behaviour (chap. 21) when he was ritually prevented from having sex with his wife while their daughter was being treated for small-pox.
(8) Thus, even if it were the case that the author had wanted (as he did not) to state that Bao-yu and Qin Zhong had engaged in genital behaviour, he would never have referred to them as lovers: to do so (as ch does, albeit speculatively) is a plain case of a reader impermissibly imposing modern western cultural norms and values on a book which repudiates those norms.
(9) An encyclopedia article is not the place for a reader to impose what ch admits is his/her preferred "reading" (not to mention imposing his/her views on what suffices to constitute two persons "lovers").
(10) The list of character appended to David Hawkes' Penguin translation has this entry for Qin Zhong:- "younger brother of Qin Shi; Bao's best friend". Anything else is a travesty, and the words "perhaps lovers" in the article should be deleted. Ridiculus mus (talk) 18:03, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
I apologize if I have given Ridiculus Mus reason to think that I have disregarded him, for this was not my intention in addressing his entirely reasonable comments. But I think his quarrel is with Wikipedia policies, not me. First, as noted at the top of this page, "This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject." Second, when I said "Wikipedia policy is 'Not Truth But Verifiability.'" I was not disregarding his opinion, which I value highly, but pointing out that Wikipedia policy is that we must have verifiable sources. Simply going to the text and presenting a strong argument is not enough. Please check out the article "No original research."
Jonathan D. Spence is a specialist on Qing history and culture, an eminently verifiable source cited in the footnote. This is what I was referring to when I said we need "textual evidence or scholarly reference".
Meanwhile, when I went back to the discussion in C.T. Hsia, The Classic Chinese Novel: a Critical Introduction (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968; various reprints), I found that he agrees with Ridiculus Mus in his discussion of Pao-yu's sexuality, but does not comment on our question here. See pp. 265, 369.
I would love to share a cup of tea or glass of wine and discuss this wonderfully deep and sometimes beautifully perplexing novel, but this is not the place. All best wishes.... ch (talk) 05:23, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
More and more mysterious, although I am very grateful for the irenic tone of ch's comments. I am not in breach of any wiki-policies. My extensive comments exclusively address (by reference to textual evidence, I might add) the validity of an edit by ch, namely the inappropriate and unjustifiable addition "perhaps lovers" which I now delete. On the contrary, I consider ch is in breach of WP:POV since he/she is clearly pressing his/her own esoteric reading of the text. Spence does not support the view that Bao-yu and Qin Zhong were "perhaps lovers", thus the edit is unsupported by anything except what I must call ch's whimsy. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ridiculus mus (talkcontribs) 16:41, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
Apologies to ch. That should be breach of WP:NOR and WP:PSTS. From the latter policy I quote:-

. . . For example, an article about a novel may cite passages to describe the plot, but any interpretation needs a secondary source. Do not analyze, synthesize, interpret, or evaluate material found in a primary source yourself; instead, refer to reliable secondary sources that do so

Editor ch added "perhaps lovers". He/she concedes it is his/her own reading (breach of WP:NOR), and cited a source which (a) does not support that statement and which (b) ch himself/herself contradicts (breach of WP:PSTS, passage quoted). It is not sufficient to cite a verifiable source. The source must support the edit! If this is breaking a butterfly on the wheel, so be it: but I hope ch is more robust (if not less charming) than a butterfly. Ridiculus mus (talk) 10:38, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Hmm. Spence refers to Baoyu's "sexual initiation" with Qin Zhong, which supports an even stronger phrase than "and perhaps lovers." I would not object if Ridiculus mus wanted to reconsider his language. ch (talk) 16:33, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
HmmHmm. ch had previously asserted "we don't know one way or the other and are not meant to" which, to my mind, correctly and successfully puts paid to Spence's interpretation.Ridiculus mus (talk) 22:02, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
I thank Ridiculus mus for his explanations and renew my admiration for his devotion to getting things right. Since we should all hope that he continues his contributions, let's take a little while to discuss Wikipedia policy and let's also see if we can agree on a suitable way to describe the relation of Bao Yu and Qin Zhong.
First, Ridiculus mus says that his comments address the question "by reference to textual evidence." Using textual evidence is not Wikipedia policy. I know this seems strange, but there it is. The article No Original Research, states: "Material based purely on primary sources should be avoided. All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than to the original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors." In this case, the primary source is the text of the novel. For further discussion of primary and secondary sources, see WP:Primary.
We as editors do not need to agree with everything in the article. Indeed the article Verifiability says the "threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth—that is, whether readers are able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether we think it is true. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or likely to be challenged, or the material may be removed.
The article Criticism says that "policy requires that all viewpoints of any topic be represented fairly, proportionately, and without bias."
In sum, secondary sources, not "textual evidence," are dispositive, but we must represent them proportionately.
Above I agreed with DORC that it would be easy to put too much weight on this point, but it does need to be indicated. I have already quoted Jonathan Spence, who writes of Qin Zhong's “sexual initiation with the novice and with Pao-yu” and “intricate pattern of oral and anal imagery that Ts’ao Hsueh-ch’in had woven around the two boys…” (p. 279). (The “intricate pattern of oral and anal imagery" seems too much to add to the article, but I just mention it to show that I am not taking an extreme position.)
There's more. Louise Edwards, “Gender Imperatives in Honglou Meng: Baoyu's Bisexuality,” Chinese Literature: Essays, Articles, and Reviews, 12 (1990), reports that another scholar, Ping-Leung Chan, declares that Qin Zhong, Liu Xianglian, Prince of Beijing, and Baoyu represent "implicit" homosexuality. Edwards disagrees. Since it is either implied or explicitly stated that each of these characters has relationships with women as well as men, it is more accurate, she says, to describe their "classic bisexuality." . Edwards reports that recent articles from the People's Republic have brought up the issue of Baoyu's "homosexuality," but it is often discussed in homophobic tones. In these PRC articles, "homosexuality is regarded as a 'problem' for the aristocratic classes of feudal times and as symbolic of the ruling class's decadence and imminent decline." [p. 75] And I won't go into her discussion of "phallogocentrism."
These quotes strike me as overkill, not useful here.
An earlier version of the article read:
Qing Zhong: Qin Keqing's handsome and shy younger brother. He is a good friend and classmate to Baoyu, while the novel occasionally suggests that the relationship between the two might be more than just friends. He was bullied by another student at school, who suggests that he is a homosexual. This turned the school upside-down when Baoyu and his servants try to defend Qin against the rogues. He has had a romantic relationship with a teenage nun later in the story. He died young.
We could simply restore this, which had been up for quite a while, but I suggest supplementing the current language with the phrase "less than innocent relations" (Wai-yee Li, "Full-Length Vernacular Fiction," in Victor Mair, ed., The Columbia History of Chinese Literature (NY: Columbia University Press, 2001), 620-658.).
Would this be ok?
Dreaming I'm an (irenic) butterlfy, ch (talk) 16:00, 22 September 2012 (UTC)
Having pursued a path sinuous if not sinological, we seem (to my mind) to have arrived here:-
[A] On 16 September I was taken to task for offering "no textual evidence or scholarly reference". I addressed textual evidence on 18 and 19 September, and was then taken to task for it on 22 September on the ground "Using textual evidence is not Wikipedia policy". I say no more.
[B] We both agree there is a risk of lack of proportion in an edit relative to a minor character.
[C] We both agree that Spence's interpretation is extreme (hence the insertion of "perhaps" at an earlier stage).
[D] To bang my own gong, wiki-policy certainly allows what I have been doing. It is not I but my esteemed interlocutor who has been making "interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims".
[E] As to [C] and [D], and at risk of seeming to teach my revered grandparent to apply labial tissue to ovarian matter for the purpose of extracting and ingesting the contents thereof, resort to primary sources is not excluded tout court. See WP:Primary where I read:-

Policy: . . . A primary source may only be used on Wikipedia to make straightforward, descriptive statements of facts that can be verified by any educated person with access to the source but without further, specialized knowledge.

[F1] My objection to "lovers", whether speculative or not, remains for all the reasons I have given in previous posts (and which my esteemed interlocutor has studiously refrained from addressing); but
[F2] I gladly endorse the admirably irenic proposal to restore the previous version, and thank User:CWH for bearing so kindly with my long-windedness which is, at least, fully flagged by my Horatian nick. Ridiculus mus (talk) 21:56, 23 September 2012 (UTC)

Please consider removing reference 19[edit]

The article referred to as reference 19 (Cao Xueqin himself destroyed the 110 chapter Dream of the Red Chambers' last 30 chapters) contains nothing but ideology propaganda. The claim that Cao must have destroyed his last 30 chapters is because he foresaw and could not bear to accept that the "feudal" society he lived in is falling apart is laughable. Moreover, the referred article is also full of tolling that Cao is of inferior ideology (in the sense that he is a "ruling" class of the feudal society), which is not only flawed but also irrelevant to literature criticism. Please try to use reference which is logically/academically sound and/or has solid evidence within to support the view that Cao may have destroyed his last 30 chapters. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Liux0229 (talkcontribs) 05:34, 13 March 2012 (UTC)