Post: Xi Feng’s Way with Words

Xi Feng’s Way with Words

Xi Feng, or Phoenix, is among the most compelling characters in the Hong Lou Meng. Whenever she steps into a room she dominates the scene, and even when she absent, her influence is felt throughout the two households. One reason for her dominance in the family hierarchy is her quick wit and golden tongue, which she uses with expert precision: she can tear a strip off an underling, negotiate her way to financial advantage, or have a room in stitches. Having not grown up with a classical education, Xi Feng […]

A certain meretricious talent

I am very much enjoying the Penguin Classics version of the Hong Lou Meng, and in particular some delightful phrases courtesy of David Hawkes’ excellent translation.

One of these concerns the main character of Bao Yu in Chapter 17, during a set-piece scene that pits the enfant terrible entertainingly against his disapproving father. An imperial edict has made provision for an annual visit home for all palace concubines, provided they can be received in the manner to which they are accustomed. Cue a hasty scrambling to construct what amounts to a pleasure garden in the grounds of the family estate. Bao Yu […]

Latest Lists – April 2022

A year has passed since the previous written update to this website, which is cause to reflect on the work that has been done in the intervening months. Leaving aside improvements in the look of the site and working out how to make things work nicely, I have added six lists since the initial Seven Worthies. These run the gamut from “common knowledge” to “fairly obscure” and have been chosen based on nothing more substantial that whatever happened to take my fancy at that particular moment.

Starting with the oldest, first up is The Six Schools of Sima Tan, which gives a nice […]

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