Yiqun Zhou illuminates the important role that the Buddhist and Daoist temples and clerics play in providing Honglou meng 紅樓夢 with its mimetic richness and complex philosophical message. The vast majority of the clerics in Honglou meng are objects of derision and hostility, while a few clerics guide characters lost in worldly preoccupations toward Buddhist enlightenment. Often scholars have tried to reconcile these bifurcating representations by distinguishing between religion as a spiritual tradition and religion as represented by institutions and clergies. Zhou takes another approach: by contrasting the first eighty chapters, by Cao Xueqin, with the last forty chapters, by an anonymous author, she shows that Cao depicted a wide spectrum of character types and used irony to complicate meaning and encourage a nuanced and reflective understanding of the role of organized religion.


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pp. 263-309
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