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A Lecture Comparing Two Chinese Literary Classics

 Campus

The Tianjin University (TJU) Youth Culture Forum, also referred as the Humanity Auditorium of New Oriental, was held recently at Weijin Road Campus of TJU. Zhou Lei, the chief manager of the Domestic University Project Department of New Oriental Education & Technology Group, was invited to discuss with students the comparisons between two Chinese classics, A Dream of Red Mansions and The Plum in the Golden Vase.   

The humorous and relaxing tone of Mr. Zhou Lei’s lecturing style attracted students’ attention from the very beginning. Not limited to focusing on the books themselves, Zhou first expanded the topic to the general significance of reading. By quoting a small poem from the renowned female poet, Emily Dickinson, he indicated that reading is a more meaningful pastime than just killing time, which caused the audience to stop and ponder for a moment. 

Over the next hours, Mr. Zhou outlined his literary comparison of the two classics from various respects, such as the authors’ perspective, descriptive style, plot design for characterization, new analyses of female characters, descriptions of lower classes, and more. His integrated and comprehensive analysis inspired students and meanwhile took the audience on an enjoyable journey of literary exploration.  

A Dream of Red Mansions and The Plum in the Golden Vase, written in the Qing Dynasty (1644~1912) and the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644) respectively, possess both differences and similarities in numerous respects, maintaining their favor with researchers and scholars in the contemporary era. Mr. Zhou Lei presented several angles for the audience to extract insights and comprehension themselves, a pleasurable and intelligent method.  

Mr. Zhou also widely quoted a popular scene in the television series A Dream of Red Mansions shot in 1987, providing the audience with a vivid visual impression and perception of the novel. Comparisons between several identical characters in The Plum in the Golden Vase and Water Margin was also involved in the lecturing process, expanding the scope of the lecture beyond the original two classic novels. 

“Literature is something that can guide you to travel across the entire broad and fantastic world, even though you may not have the chance to really manage that”, said Zhou Lei when mentioning the life experiences of Emily Dickinson, emphasizing the genuine meaning of reading and literature. 

The lecture was aimed at arousing students’ interest in reading Chinese Classics and enlightening them toward introspection, which corresponds to the ultimate goal of enhancing the literary attainment and comprehensive qualities of college students.     

By: Zhang Wanying

Student Editor: Zhao Han

Editors: Qin Mian and Christopher Peter Clarke

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