A talk by Richard Strassberg, UCLA Professor of Asian Languages & Cultures
Ever since the novel A Dream of Red Mansions began to appear in printed editions from the end of the 18th century on, readers have attempted to translate its fictional narrative of the Grand View Garden into prints, paintings, models, stage sets, and most recently, theme parks. Yet, no two versions are alike. The lecture will examine some of these examples and suggest that their diversity may reflect different interpretations of the text.
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Richard Strassberg is Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures. His research interests include classical Chinese fiction and drama, and Chinese aesthetics. Among his publications are The World of K'ung Shang-ren: A Man of Letters in Early Ch'ing China (Columbia Univ. Press, 1983), Enlightening Remarks on Painting by Shih-t'ao (Pasadena: Pacific Asia Museum, 1989), Inscribed Landscapes: Travel Writing from Imperial China (Univ. of California Press, 1994), and A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas (Univ. of California Press, 2003).
In a review of A Chinese Bestiary, Suzanne Cahill declared:
"At last! Richard Strassberg's stunning new work provides a lively introduction in words and pictures to one of China's best loved and least understood classics, the Shanhai jing or Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. This classic of mythical geography and fantastic ethnography, full of wondrous stories and creatures, contains a treasury of information about the Chinese worldview and has inspired Chinese writers and artists for over two millennia. But until now, its strange vocabulary together with patchy transmission of both text and illustrations, have made it difficult to present to English-speaking audiences. Relying on a rare 1597 edition of the classic, Strassberg has faithfully captured its combination of entertaining whimsy and deep religious intent. His new book, the product of years of study by one of the few people truly qualified to analyze both text and the images, is sure to delight specialist and nonspecialist alike."
Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies
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