A Quotation in Lieu of a Preface

A Quotation in Lieu of a Preface

“…In this busy,dusty world,having accomplished nothing,I suddenly recalled all the girls I had known,considering each in turn,and it dawned on me that all of them surpassed me in behavior and understanding;that I,shameful to say,for all my masculine dignity,fell short of the gentler sex.But since this could never be remedied,it was no use regretting it.There was really nothing to be done.

“I decided then to make known to all how I,although dressed in silks and delicately nurtured thanks to the Imperial favor and my ancestors' virtue,had nevertheless ignored the kindly guidance of my elders as well as the good advice of teachers and friends,with the result that I had wasted half my life and not acquired a single skill.But no matter how unforgivable my crimes,I must not let all the lovely girls I have known pass into oblivion through my wickedness or my desire to hide my shortcomings.

“Although my home is now a thatched cottage with matting windows,earthen stove and rope bed,this shall not stop me from laying bare my heart.Indeed,the morning breeze,the dew of night,the willows by my steps and the flowers in my courtyard inspire me to wield my brush.While I have little learning or literary talent,what does it matter if I tell a tale in rustic language to leave a record of those lovely girls?This should divert readers too and help distract them from their cares.That is why I use the other name,Jia Yucun….”

From The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin