Da Guan Yuan, the Garden of Broad View (my translation) was both a disappointment and an unexpected delight. This garden modeled after the creation of one of the best known literary settings in China, where most tumultuous family and love drama took place in The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, was well designed but poorly constructed and has fallen to much disrepair. So, even when I was excited to visit the living quarters of my literary crush Jia Baoyu, I couldn’t but lament the lost potential of the space.
However, the Garden is now also a meeting place for the elders who are practicing traditional art forms: music, Peking opera, and rhyming storytelling, calligraphy, etc. I got to see and listen to my heart’s content.
I wonder when will the story of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, the epitome tragic lovers, be know to western readers and story lovers. Is it my calling to finally make this decades long dream of mine a reality?
The afternoon was spent meandering the highly developed, crowded touristy area of Nanluoguxiang (Southern Drum Lane.). Squeezed between stalls selling imported food and beverage items (Frozen Yogurt, Bubble Tea, Starbucks) are genuinely wonderful drafts shops offering goods based on traditional folk art concepts with inventiveness and care for elevated qualities.
Dinner was a semi-business affair, meeting a couple of the managers from Chinese Educational Publications. We talked about everything and much of dinner had an elated overtone because their first major venture with an American publisher (Tor) just garnered a major award: the Hugo went to The Three Body Problem, a 2008 Chinese novel translated and published last year! The first ever Hugo Award for an Asian import. In look forward to examining Chinese children’s publications to select the titles that will help non-Chinese young readers gain better cultural understanding through high quality literary work.
(Da Guan Yuan pictures are on my camera. Can’t post them until a week from now.)
A happy find in Nanluoguxiang, clay creations: lucky rabbit on lucky mounts: