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Scribes of GastronomyRepresentations of Food and Drink in Imperial Chinese Literature$
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Isaac Yue and Siufu Tang

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9789888139972

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888139972.001.0001

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Eating and Drinking in a Red Chambered Dream

Eating and Drinking in a Red Chambered Dream

Chapter:
(p.113) 8 Eating and Drinking in a Red Chambered Dream
Source:
Scribes of Gastronomy
Author(s):

Louise Edwards

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888139972.003.0010

This chapter shows how Cao Xueqin used food and beverages to mark boundaries between the pure and the profane in the Jia clan mansions. The division between purity and profanity in the novel stands as the core of the moral and spiritual problems it explores. Previous research has explored the roles of sex, age, space and art, for example, in signalling shifts in the stability of the distinction between purity and profanity. This paper extends that framework to examine the role that food and drink play in the pollution of the protected world of Daguan yuan (Prospect Garden). It argues that Cao Xueqin provided readers with keys presaging the dismantling of the garden and the decline of the Jia family in his use of food and drink and in the discussion about their exchange and consumption.

Keywords:   Hong lou meng, Red chamber, Pollution, Prospect garden, Moral and spiritual problems, Boundary, Food, Literature, Culture, China

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