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I am very pleased to have Jonathan Spence here to talk about his new book "Return to Dragon Mountain". This is for those of us who have been watching the various archaeological layers of research that Jonathan has laid down over his career, it's amazing, but it's his 15th book. Many of you have read many of his others on Matteo Ricci the great Jesuit missionary, who lived in Beijing for years. The K'ang-Hsi Emperor, "To Change China" about all of these myriad westerners who sought to change in China in some way, a great lesson for all of us who may in some sense still harbor such a yearning. "God's Chinese Son", about the Taiping emperor during the Taiping Tianguo, the Taiping Rebellion wonderfully strange, interesting period of Chinese history. "The Search for Modern China", a biography of Mao and I have down here on my list, others. Jonathan is a sterling professor of history at Yale, where he has taught for many years. And tonight, we are going to try something a little bit different and a little bit unusual. Jonathan's wife Chin Annping who in her own right is a historian, a student of Chinese philosophy and whose book on Confucius is coming out in a month; is going to talk to Jonathan, her husband. And then on October 25th we will reverse the compass rows and Jonathan will talk to Annping about her book. Now I assume both of them are well acquainted with each other's books and it should be an interesting kind of an excavation for each of them to query the other. This would be followed by a question period where you can ask questions and then afterwards, we will return to the lobby where Jonathan will sign books for those of you who are interested in buying them. So let me say one quick word. This book Jonathan will explain is about a very interesting man who lived at the end of the Ming Dynasty, when China was falling apart and being occupied by the Manchus and setting up the new dynasty the Qing Dynasty and it's sort of an amazingly concrete record, and I would say the thing that distinguishes Jonathan's work above all else is that it's always very concrete, not theoretical, very accessible, very interesting and very related to or grounded in research. So without further adieu, Jonathan and Annping, the stage is yours. Well, thank you all for coming and I can assure you there has been no fudging, I don't know what I am going to get asked, and I don't know in what tone of voice it's going to be asked. And I don't know if I can answer it. But I do know, if there is any meanness, I am going for Confucius in a month. So we will have to see how we handle it. I was asked to say just a few words about the book. One of the truly bewildering things about so even getting introduction to Chinese history is the simple but tortuous problem of dynastic names and rulers names and so on and the Chinese fascination with dating periods of past time by the name of the ruler or the identity of the rulers dynasty. So we often quote to just to see of names, of periods and so on. But it is very hard to unravel sometime. In all my writing I try and get around that all the sort of being concrete is one way, but by trying to summarize larger trends and may be put one or two humans into a sharper framework, a more detailed framework and letting them tell the stories through their own eyes. That's my great delight as a historian, is trying to understand what those are the eyes were? Can we guess what was likely or reasonable or rational, even when we were confronted with actions that we find may be horrific or bewildering or very, very strange? So I have tried to write irrationally about revolutions, about dynastic collapse. But I have never tried really to write about a man of piercing intelligence, who sort of lost everything and have to regain his financial equilibrium and his mental equilibrium and that's really in a way what this book is about. The time span of the book, it takes us away back from the People's Republic, it's a long time ago. It's about a man called Zhang spelt as Z H A N G with the new spelling, Zhang Dai D A I. We know that he was born in 1597, so coming from England that were putting up the late period of queen Elizabeth's reign, just after the Spanish Armada. It puts China a context of a newly expanding world history in which as although mentioned, the Jesuits had just managed to send the first missionaries to China, just before Zhang was born. The Dutch were advancing the far eastern empire, the British tentatively beginning to trade a little bit. The main foreign actors were the Portuguese and the Spaniards who also brought many other catholic missionaries to China. And Zhang Dai was born in a beautiful city; some of you may have been to cold Shaoxing in Zhejiang province near HÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¡ngzhÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â¦Ãƒâ€šu, weather, it's a beautiful west lake which is one of the great tourist attractions of China. So Zhang was born to a wealthy family, it's hard for us to guess how wealthy but he had much more money than he knew what to do I think most of the time and was all for a seeking creative ways to spend it. So there he is, born 1597, and dreams of becoming a writer, that took a long time to formulate in his mind and we might discuss this, but I am not sure whether we will or not. But he was interested in history and in story telling and in putting himself into past stories I think. Round about 1630s, it became pretty obvious that the dynasty under which he was living, which is simply called the Ming M I N G the Ming which is famous for its blue and white porcelain as well as other subjects, but very creative period in Chinese art and history. But the Ming were floundering emotionally, mentally, morally, financially. And Zhang knew this, his family knew this. By and large, I think they continued living recklessly, although you might not agree Annping may challenge me on that. But it was a sort of fast track life in some ways, but with scholarship at its center. With a lot of Confucius and Confucius' theory, I am sure we will be we will be probing that to little more detail. 1644, was catastrophe in Chinese history. When the Ming Empire dissolved under the attacks of peasant rebels from the North West who were able with really astonishing speed to enter Beijing, force their way into Beijing which was really the capital of China then and to actually occupy the Forbidden City itself. But China didn't suddenly get a farming dynasty as it might have done. Here was the peasant from the peasant family actually occupying the Forbidden City. But an alliance was made between those generals, Chinese generals who have supported the Ming and another group of foreign soldiers from the North East, from the area we usually call Manchuria and these were the Manchu peoples from beyond the Korean border. And the pact some people would call it a devil's pact was to destroy the peasant regime by allying the Ming remnants with the Manchu army unconquered. And it was this double army, a reconstituted army that then turned through 180 degrees, marched across North China, destroyed the peasant forces and reestablished order according to the order in such situations is usually quotation mark. They established their version of order on the Chinese people. And it is in that war and the civil war that came after that, huge series of battles, the Zhang Dai was forced out of his home, became fugitive and slowly started to reconstitute his life. And he died around about 1680. But as I say in my last chapter, this man who had written so much and had so many children and suffered so much and had so much to say, found nobody in the entire record, as far as we know, who even mentions his death. There is something poignant about the way he vanishes from the scene. So we have a life between 1597 and "?" 1680. Anyway that's not a bad span that's an 83 year span. And I think he packed a lot of action into that time, but a fairly unusual sort of action. So now I have to see what's going to happen. Well, I promised to be very sweet and rigorous. It's pretty much what defines our relationship really. And I will start with this one, I just want to say that the "Return To Dragon Mountain" this book that Jonathan just written draws together in my mind draws together many of his favorite I mean themes and some of the themes are pleasure, excess, snow, dreams, mystery women, the impermanence of things, loss and longing, recapturing the past and writing about the past and of course one of Jonathan's favorite themes is the late Ming. And I wonder here I am going to ask Jonathan my question my first question, I wonder whether you know, we could start on talking about this subject of pleasure and I would like to start with that first sentence from chapter one of his book and that chapter is called "Circles of Pleasure". Now here is the first sentence, "Zhang Dai lived a parade when the moon came out and lanterns shone." So my question is this, how did Zhang Dai live a parade and why the moon and lanterns brought him such joy? That's a good one. I like the line. Okay, what was I thinking, I was thinking of a life absorbed by spectacle, by emotion the sense of a parade, again we are going to certainly get autobiographical, actually I remember being deeply, deeply touched by the parades I saw in World War II, when I was just beyond being a baby four, five, six year old when my father was in military and we were briefly in Yorkshire and the parades of the military garrison used to come down this Cobblestone of the old town at Richmond, to the regimental chapel. And I hadn't thought about this right until this second. So he has he has a memory across 60 years. But I remember as a child, with other children, sort of working along besides the parade, there was a there was a military band in front and of course half the troops were away in combat terrible combat and my father had recently come back from Dunkirk, which he survived. But they thought of sort of soldiering and music and marshal, the noise that went with it's the the sound, particularly the drums and the bugles and the flutes that you will find in a military band. I think probably perhaps, some of this was lying around when I made that sentence. What is it to live a parade? It's to it's to live in the public eye. It's perhaps to posture a lot, it's to have a lot of friends, it's to be living outside the narrow confines of your courtyard house, though the Zhang family was wealthy and they would have had lavish houses and then bits and pieces of one of them we think still survives in Shaoxing. So living a parade is being aware that you yourself are a spectacle and you are witnessing the spectacle. And these symbols that you used of the lantern's playing and the moon coming out, one of the themes I had when I was designing the book, it became clear to me, what was going to be the idea of light. I have never sort of written a book. I usually get some kind of central idea like this and elaborate on it. I thought may be there could be a book partially about light and brightness. And the brightest of brightness's as we saw last night, is the moon at this time of the year, and Zhang was absorbed by light shining in the dark. There is a metaphor for you, but he was literally fascinated by that and he tells us that from his earlier stage and he puts in again that memory he tells us this memory in detail and he puts it, just the same age I was as a little boy in Richmond, watching my parade, it's almost his first memory as being on the shoulders of a old family retainer. Surely everyone here was a baby who was being carried on the shoulder either be your dad or your mom or an uncle or something. And it was from that perch, when you held the child like this above your head, the child of course becomes taller than the carrier and Zhang tells us that he was on the shoulders of this family routine that he first saw a huge display of lanterns. And these lanterns were vividly lighted from within either was the lanterns like which were simple, little bit of paper and a light inside, but Zhang was a real connoisseur of lanterns and it turned out that Shaoxing is a great center of lantern art. And this is not just a casual so you don't just light the lamps and then chuck it away. Some of these lanterns costs thousands of dollars and took a year to make. They could be made of ox horn or precious semi precious stones. They could have little panels of glimmering, either glass or some other sparkling substance. And the flames would be magnified inside and so the whole city would come alight. And so that again was was a life of parade and spectacle. And as he grew older, Zhang became a great displayer of lanterns and the great collector of rare - of rare lanterns and this was one of his passions. The moon gave the most perfect compliments to during night. It was to him I think always romantic, but he knew that people postured under the moon, that's another way of looking at his the metaphor. He loved the moon, but he tells us in a beautiful passage of writing. He said, "He loved the moon, because he so loved watching the people watching the moon." And that's I think is one answer to your question. That is the other side of being in the parade or living a parade. He is watching all the other people around you who are also staging their own parades and if it has some general mark about Zhang Dai's character, I think it would be that he always loved watching people. I think Zhang Dai probably found nearly everybody interesting and he loved the way they looked. He loved the way women looked. He loved beautiful women, both, but he also loved handsome men and loved the way men looked and the way that children played and looked in public. He was a he was a watcher. And I think not at all the same way as saying he is vie I don't mean that at all, he was a watcher, he was somebody who loved to see the city in motion, he loved the towns and the city. He loved towns by lantern light and he loved towns by moon light. And he loved women by moonlight, and he loved water by moonlight. And so when ever he could he would go out, an ideal combination would be to go out in a winter's day in a boat on the lake in Southern China with a full moon just after it had snowed. And then Zhang Dai was in real heaven and he so I am with his writing about this, it is really beautiful. He would get on his furred coat; she will have a sable coat. Also this Chinese scholar in the 1620, some where like that wrapped in his sable coat, carrying a chalk or hand warmer, with a couple of servants just to heat the wine and make sure you know he stayed happy. And then of course the boatmen one would do that, he wouldn't do the boating he wouldn't do the wine but he would drink the wine and let the boat right to him where he wanted to go and that to him was really living and - on the little islands sometimes of these lakes there would be other people also drinking wine with a lantern and talking may be also wrapped in furs and what he loved was if they would say "hey come and join us" and he would go - have his boat pulled in and then he would join the parade of somebody else, sometimes people coming huge distances to see the moon on that particular night and he loved the fact the moon would drove them all together well in this evening. I will come back to those wintery nights and also to the moon later, I think that's just you are absolutely right I thinking he he really wrote so beautifully about those and since we are on the subject of pleasures, you also said in your book that until his forties that means until the fall of the Ming dynasty, Zhang Dai's life revolved around scholarship and pleasure and yeah you have also said in your book that he - Zhang Dai never separate out the two, that he never regarded pleasure and scholarship as separate realms in fact for him there is scholarship in pleasure and pleasure in scholarship how does that work? Oh how does that work, well Zhang made it work. That's I think one thing that interested me most of I didn't mean that this book became competitive with Zhang but it does mean that I have never tried to work with somebody who is so smart and so incredibly well educated and so inconceivably more educated than I am and it was it was haunting I never studied around a Major Chinese scholar before. I studied the people on the edges of different thing or rebels or emperors or indeed even the the peasants village and the peasant woman and and the Jesuit women want or Jesuit missionary, all of these were fairly difficult, it's too fascinating to do but the world - I didn't - may be looking back in it - the one levels behind - levels behind - levels for many of those people, that's what Contempra is, this was as well as astonishing now, but that was in the 17th or 18th century. But the Zhang Dai came from a family of great scholarly aptitude even irritation but most importantly he introduced me for the first time to the real Ming elite the elite of the mind which was the kind of class position and which you simply - I should say simply in which you knew the tradition of China, the literary of poetic and artistic tradition and philosophical tradition, in a way I think we can know only dimly I - I am thinking I am very very lucky to know quite well a 94 year old Chinese woman now living near us in in New Haven Connecticut and this woman from another major scholarly family and these are owned by rules and regulations and communist victories and all the different other things which she had to go through has found a kind of peace at 94 but she still does caligraphy for hours every morning, she still remembers where the sharpness relieves but completely breathless, all the context she grew up with and so I feel I feel I had a chance to see a female version of Zhang Dai in a modern age, any poem we will ask her, she just will finish - you know you give her the first line and she will just know it, not as a game just to help to understand, it may be translated. This idea of a scholarship being pleasure is I think one of the least or understood or studied sides of - of Chinese culture and as particularly hard coming from outside just learning Chinese, attempting to learn Chinese in language schools and being in a world where such erudition is not really valued much, but when you live that erudition, when it was part, the reading and the study and the scholarship, it was generational so the Zhang Dai would live he loved studying with his grandfather, again there is something that some of us might have a good fortune to do but their relationship between the little boy, the passion with which he looked at the the scholarship because he wanted to please his grandfather, the fact that his grandfather have passed the highest level of examinations in China. His grandfather passed, his great grandfather had been the senior exam taker in the whole of China in the year 1571 and the Chinese numbed that made available that the ranks numbers in the city in the Beijing exams which were held every three years. The most complex I think competitive examination system the world has ever known, in which only young men - only men were allowed to take the exams there fiction is full of woman who took the exams and shoot up again the top rank but they usually get find out someone along the line, there are sometimes they try on from the the pluses, amusing and complexes grows out of that, but these this was a competitive examination society and one of the troubles with that pleasure was that you are also turn to pass the exam and as with our own exams I guess four things, I remember two plays of Shakespeare so that they pass the English quiz or whatever it may be, it showed all the same measures going to Shakespeare in the park and stretching out and just seeing it for fun. But on the other hand you you learn the text through regular and once you have learnt them through regular, then you can enjoy them in this way so he and his family loved books, loved reading, loved collecting books, loved holding them, loved fascinating them and chasing them, one of our Chinese classical books are not punctuated so the challenge of reading involves extra scholarly levels, its very - very difficult to read it completely unpunctuated, the text with no paragraphs either you are meant to just naturally follow the rhythm of the language and it's clear if you are a good scholar. How how these natural punctuation marks come Zhang loved all that, he loved poetry games, constantly in his own writings whether he was happy or sad, a fugitive or a millionaire, he is often invoking Tao Zhang, a great poet I think from the fourth century AD - one of the China's great early poet and Zhang often pins - he knows his not as good as Tao Zhang but he knows that he shows emotions with Tao Zhang and sometimes he can use this poet from past or express his own sense of what is going on a discern, but he also shows his love of learning and poetry games, drama troupes, he had a big theatric troupes in his own huge extended hall, he loved going through the past with the actors and actresses in his troupe and he hoped passionately that his children would become good scholars, this then became reasonable scholar but probably never got to the top levels of the examination system under the new dynasty but I imagined him pretty always with the book, either book in his hand or knowing the book in his head reciting, sharing, deciding to read something else that evening. I should I may be just mention that I am thinking he has recently found that the Chinese have republished their grandfathers study diaries right from the 1930's -40s -50s It's actually from 1920 to 1960. So we can see a great these are amounts of brilliant scholar living in the north east of China, Manchuria and then fleeing during the war and going back, but this star this star has chart his intellectual movement day by day all through this astonishing period of war and our people and so on and in a way I think Zhang Dai did that same kind of process but by writing the history of the Ming, so he started the history of the Ming as a young man's project, just start of interest, the Ming had been founded in 1368 so it was a venerable dynasty by this time and he wanted to write its history. But he haven't finished like when he was writing, because he got stuck with the book of the whole Ming and before he had finished the book, the Ming fell, so the project of writing the great history of the Ming became also the project of writing the fall of the Ming and those are immensely different I think and and so we have to readjust and in fact he wrote two books, he is going to sequentially fit it together, one about the great Ming and the other about the collapse of the great Main and all based on the classical Chinese history graphical principle. So poetry goes with Confucian classics, the other so called five classics, but many other sides, medical texts, divination texts, what else the the different drama texts of old kinds, musical text all of these were part of this absorption that's scholars like this had. He never passed the exams and so and so he tried at various time. And that I think was probably when he was least happy and if that they had any reference to him having what I think we could translate as severe depression was when he learned that he pass - he had failed I think for about the third time. And those are notation, one notation from one frame then another completely different scholarly journal which essentially says side contra and it because it would be a lunar date in the Chinese cyclical calendar that we would we would say something like June 19th 1625 must go and cheer up Zhang Dai, he has failed again. You know, it's a that's just a quick notation explaining that they have gone to see Zhang because he was failing. Well, but Jonathan I so that you mentioned Zhang Dai's grandfather and I think his story meets one of my favorite characters in your book. It has to do with some one who taught his grandson about sort of the real joys of scholarship and not just to recite to remember what the sort of the correct commentaries say and and to understand a text for himself and that was so important and yet the same grandfather was obsessed with scholarship as well and so he spent a large part of his life trying to to construct, compose this dictionary and by the time he finish realize that someone else a whole group of scholars have done a dictionary that's much better than his and that Such he also worked. And that really drove him in a way to his depression and death as soon as they were just - and so this excessive - sort of side of doing something is also very much apart of I think of your book about about Zhang Dai because it's. Zhang Dai loved obsessions he loved people who are obsessed. Yeah, right right and he wrote a great deal about that. and there is some thing extraordinary about Zhang Dai as well is that, he found that sort of impursuing pleasure, usually his obsession has to do with when you are pursuing pleasure, you just don't know when to stop and he found that such pursued could take a person to either something that's astonishingly beautiful or astonishingly ugly and crass and vulgar and that he in his writings right he he talked about both aspects and he he also says that - in his writing he also find that he was usually that men his men for probing to such behavior. And so why men. The women are too busy about in their household. But he is very good about women's practical life you know and - and sympathetic. But he knows this does give time for these other past. But these obsessive behaviors, some of them are really interesting and You know, well I could tell you a little bit. I mean it's Zhang Dai's premises about human relationships I think was that if somebody doesn't have some kind of an obsession, they are not worthy of friendship. He says that he says why not because they are going to be dull. They are going to be dull and he cannot bear dull people and so he says, "As long as somebody has an obsession, they are going to be interesting enough first of all, so you get to know them by talking may be about the obsession and it can be an obsession for lanterns, it can be an obsession for with eating or with gardening or with scholarship or with one particular text or tradition or in his grandfather's case with compiling what turns out to be a useless dictionary with a wonderful title rhyme mountain which I just adore and the rhyme mountain was a try as his grandfather's attempt to draw all his learning together from the past and he named it after certain mountain peaks and the valleys and this kind of thing, it was his own sort of mnemonic system I think. He turned out to be futile when he learned somebody else have done it better a bit long and so on. But the obsessions come through cruelty and we men are trying this at all sympathetic but somebody who showed their obsessions through the ruthless way they treated people in their own family. Zhang Dai would say, "They are worth, they are worth studying". They are worth writing about. He said, "Somebody just ordinary getting on with their life, such people don't really need biography". He said but this such and such person who did such and such an act or series of acts is worth a biography needs a biography because we need to know about these obsessions how the obsessions illuminate that the person and I can think of that one of them was a man who was obsessed, sometimes he seems come out to you know, your I just have no knowledge where they could come from, one of the one of the uncles had an obsession with horse racing. I knew any of those horse racing all though making of those Ming horse racing and put lot of his money, lot of his passion into one particular stallion I think a race which he called the Great Grave - the great wonderful name for this this powerful horse and gambling is a passion just to may be a modern clichÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© at the new Casinos in Macao and so on like the certain of their gambling were ran strong in this family. And he would gamble with he would gamble of cockfights and again I hadn't thought of Ming generic gambling at cock fight. These fighting cocks were raised in these different wealthy household. And then train to the fine arts and then they would compete with each other, the cocks would share tear each other this shots eventually, but you would bet on the side and he says you would bet worth in this hallowed hall you - your bet works of art and you you shuts up soon the sources terrible it must have been a wild scene with the people trading out and saying you know, 20,000 on cock number four kind of thing and that was worth writing about food good food was all is worth writing about. One of the obsessions he had was good for this time yeah, the tenth month eating perfect fresh crabs and he found that a crab eating club in Zhejiang which only made once a year when the crabs were perfect in the tenth lunar month. And then he had special chefs cook them and since no crab is good enough you have left them lying around after cooking - that the club would cook one crab for each person's secrets and then one more for each person, then one more for each person. So that was an obsession and that was something that he was fascinated by and the he was - otherwise what I mention is he was fascinated by anger he is so anger particularly on reasoning anger as a kind of obsession which which changed your values, changed your attitude and he said somebody, he told about two his relative who just easily grew in a raged, that might will be psychiatric terms for this now. But it's always they just completely lose control on their violence either to their own families or servants or people in the neighborhood and so on would be would be quite extraordinary. And Zhang even would tell a biography and then at the end he say "you see this person? he is interesting, there is some thing here we could learn from this we can may be, no it wasn't in our list but it was just interesting, it was as a part of life that we need to confront and why no he didn't say that we just need to know about this part of life. But I like when you said; you said that these obsessions tend to illuminate a person's character and that that I think has a lot to do with what he said about history writing as well. It is the awesome how related because Zhang Dai was drawn to gaps in history, he was drawn to blemishes in character in human character, blemishes in the human in the character of other people blemishes in his own character. He writes wonderfully about that isn't it? So blemishes and obsessions so they are related to shadows that you earlier you said that he was drawn to you know, writing about light but he was really drawn to writing about shadows as well. Shadows on the moon and so on. And and I think all of this was related to his own history writing as well and I just want to read a sort of this passage and I want to ask you whether you agree with him or not. He said and this is in your book. "If something is not written down and yet we grasp what has not been written, then it is like an eclipse of the moon. If it is a lunar eclipse that causes gaps in the moon, then the true spirit cannot be said to be really missing. And if you continue seeking that true spirit, then the moon will appear in whole form again". So do you agree with Zhang Dai said here and and do you as a historian also seek the true spirit of the past in spite of the gaps? That's cool different things - he was the first person I have read I think or may be the first historian I I have read who felt that gaps where the action is, so he says that even if a book of history of thousands of pages long or as I read I just you want, but it says it's going to interest you as much as some sorts or accounts that they have some obvious gap. When you see the gap, you are drawn - your imagination is is drawn to this. Your your - it's a challenge to you - he says surely enables we would rather read sort of exciting history with gaps and he is then trying to fill the gaps and read alone in a boring cover of history. But we don't want total chaos and that's when you use the the image of the eclipse of the moon, we all love the moon, he loves the full moon then the eclipse is scary, but it's not going to scare you to witness as long as you know it's something about the eclipse or if you know that there is a rhythm to this, there is a cycle it's not just that the creature has taken great bytes out of the moon or some people use to think in earlier ages perhaps but by knowing that there is an eclipse you have you have the possibility of of filling in the gaps you know that get actually filled in as as the eclipse goes through its its motions. Sometimes this is it is a little hard to follow what he means but he says that for instance when nature historical figures try to hide something, one of the things the historian does is is the historian can can sense that that person is trying to hide something and can kind of feel the way to gap and they can the concentrate their reading and their thinking about finding out what it was what is it that this person is trying to evade. Does this makes some sense we have tried well - we were drawn into a sort of closures relationships to the tags because we we know there is more to it that meets the eye as we have said now and he said that is really worth going out so that is a kind of gut feeling in a sense but I think he meant that it was only gut feelings of the historian go for that go for that, we can solve whatever that something cutoffs off a presidential speech or whatever it may be the sudden silence of the heart of some some documents from Stalinist Russia whatever might be you see there is something not going right here and you can fill it in about by hard work. It's by the way just saw as you know because it's one of the many metaphors he tries to use and he he talks about biographers as well being like astronomers having the same sort of power, he talks about - the biographer also being like a fisherman - that like a fisherman the biographer can have different sizes of mesh and so the kind of biography you write is going to depend on the size of the mesh which you have the sort of catch the fish of the past as a way of catch catch the fish of the real life and then to me one of the the really piercing metaphors in the book which he took from the he borrowed and I mean from the philosophical Jaunts the things - earliest Daoist thinker in a way or related to Daoism. It's a it's a parable told by Zhang Dai in third century BC fourth century BC when (indecipherable) simply tells this that the is is this I mean I can pretty much remember go forward the story simply says when the leper woman has her child, the first thing she does is seek out a light, a lantern a light so that she can see if the new born infant has shared her illness. I when read that I was really startled by this and I was moved by it and I said and then later he says what he means is that as you write to history you have no idea if you are sort of infecting it you know with your - the weakness or illnesses in your own physic so he talks about the historian also writing something and then having to read through lights as well and then trying to access the validity of of what he has written and he says the thing about biography - so he loved biography is that that as a historian reaches for the light, the spirits of the dead are leaning over his shoulder sharing the light to see if he has in fact got them right, it's an amazingly complicated use I think, it was very beautiful and and powerful message for me. Yeah this is absolutely powerful and I and I too remember the certain nights you actually get up about 2'0clock in the morning to on the light, are you doing the same thing? Looking at - but - but that that relationship is of the historian to his writing is also I think it's it's quite fitting I think here the one thing Actually if anyone of you a historian here, if you get an idea or in the middle of night, write it down it's worth it's worth doing it, sometimes it's success writing too important but otherwise they go, these ideas go and join in the middle, but then ideas flash past you and and vanish, you may see, you want to you want to catch them hence these different metaphors is used. And I am just wondering we have our time is almost up. Well worth Yeah I am just wondering too you know coming back to these these sort of family members that he wrote about cousins and uncles and father and so on that when he was sort of talking about their blemishes okay, what may be I should put to this? Well the reason is that he was drawn to their blemishes, is it - does it have something to do with fact that these will allow them allow him to think about the spirit underneath just like the eclipse moon because and and that spirit, is so hard to catch isn't it because with an uncle like the seventh uncle or the second uncle, it means its about sort of the seventh uncle for the essence, he was somewhat who was able to attract wastrels to him and also the same time the best scholars to him as well and so he was I think Zhang Dai actually, I mean he wrote so well about this about this sort of his love for paradoxes and then I does, I think that love does tell one I loved about the spirit of Zhang Dai and he is drawn to paradox this that this is - Yes he has a whole section on on paradoxes in his own life. He presents himself as as the sort of carrying with him seven great paradoxes about and the nature of his of his life I would - may be its just because I want to try to to questions too we just mentioned that there is a sight to Zhang Dai which is the kind of almost like the curators side, he wants to he wants to protect the past he wants to remember or recollect the past, he wants to he wants to recapture the world that was lost when the Ming fell and that what he felt had been destroyed, something precious have been destroyed in China and there is a huge sort of paradox, it would get another paradox, we could may be pursue in question time because for many either objective historians or people living in the Ming, in the 16th century nearly 70's early. The Ming had had been a pretty hopeless statistic for a quite a long time, disastrous in some ways, cruel and conductive and unsuccessful and so on. Zhang viewed it as the loss of something cherished, with the dead of that dynasty and the conquest of China by the Manchus from the North east and as I said, this kind of pact which we mean there were wealthy Ming armies and the Barbarian conquerors as the Chinese called them. In this pact, something something was irretrievable was lost, Zhang lost his own property, he lost his mansions he lost the family, lost the home on west lake that shows Zhang lost his dwelling, he lost his library and many many friends were killed or committed suicide. But Zhang Dai said in fact one reason for riding history is that you do keep the past alive that's just may be a clichÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â© but he believe that and he has a very strong way of putting it, he says nothing in fact is ever lost as long as one person can remember it and that is the that's the key final moment for him and that is why you hold on to whatever you can the blemishes, the beauty, the cruelty, the crab eating, the useless dictionary all of these have not vanished because they are sitting right there in Zhang Dai's head in the year 1660 - 1670 till his death, may be a lonely death as noble man in around 1680. So he is very conscious of that power to recollect the past and it's hard not to see this as like some noblestic needs clearly. He believes in the power of the human spirit to keep things in - intact for the for the future. But one last question and this is just irresistible, it's a question this question is this book autobiographical? I know there are the bits of you in most of your books that you will move on "K'ang-Hsi emperor", "The Question of Hu", "Memory palace of Matteo Ricci", but in this book, there are large chunks of you and I could say that with total confidence there are large chunks of you. I think Zhang Dai's writings of great affinity with yours and also I see likeness in character and temperament though you didn't have quite so many flaws as Zhang Dai. I don't have the money as Dai. And both of you love beautiful sayings, you are tuned to the settings of a seeing of a moment of some quite experience and of course both of you loved the moon, you loved blemishes on the moon and both of you love snow. And I feel that if you are able to write classical Chinese, as beautifully as you write English, you could probably have written this snow scene from Zhang Dai's collected essays called dreams recollected. And this this I just want to give you a bit of a sketch on a bit of the background the sustaining year 1627 in the city of Zhejiang - this Zhang Dai's city there had been a major snow fall and Zhang Dai in five not less than five of his actresses on his troupe they climbed to the highest point in the city and they were enjoying the view from that that adage point. And this is what Zhang Dai said, Ma Sho Ching - that's one of the actresses "Ma Sho Ching sang us an aryl while Lee Chieshon accompanied her on the flute the music subdued by the extreme cold was muted and roughened so that we could hardly hear it. at that eighth third watch, we came home to sleep. Ma Sho Ching and Penh Shal Phi holding each other tightly rode all the way down the hill from 100 paces road to the very bottom. When they picked themselves up, they were completely bathed in snow. As for me, I hired a small wheelbarrow cart and came home dragging a great lump of ice". And when I read that I couldn't get the difference whether it was you who wrote it or Zhang Dai wrote it and that me and the wheelbarrow as it was said, was that Jonathan - was that Zhang Dai well, - Well, that's quite a question. The first comment I have had on the book for looking from a literary critic, friend of mine to a friend of our like critics, that critic said that he considered this autobiographical and and enjoyed it for that reason as well. I mean he liked the book real lot. But while I was rereading it for - so that I could go over this question, in the last couple of days and I was I was so as well as startled about I think it's accurate but I think it's also I think you have yes I think you deserve the background. And I think it says, more about me to have this directly than than its there in the book but may be there will be some bit of me in somewhat but this one as I say because it was a kind of spirit that I couldn't grasp you know, something that I really couldn't admire and somebody who wrote so well, that's it's so difficult this classical trying to unravel his he takes as his heart and so when I will led you and anybody reading it from itself, you could you could decide, if you think it's possible, this is kind of transference, otherwise I would say why I got to the subject I am not sure why I got to the subject, and my last thought would be may be we can see that more in the in the question time but it's that in a way, all the all the writing I have done , its written from the 1600 onwards and I have never really come in that's a tiny bit of Chinese history and I love the earliest and whatever I really gotten into it. And this was my first attempt really in a way to to study not the winners, so all the people who had tried to overthrow the state in some way or overthrow the order in their home. But the losers in the way that the representatives of the vanished dynasty, that to capture their life, for me to trying to capture so that you could could read about this. So there was a sort of a both Zhang Dai and I, I think do we want to reposes the past and I think we believe that if one person around with something it would become and I like to think that I have sort of remembered Zhang Dai and people here might now think about him and his sensibility and his blockages and his frustrations, his irritations and so on and get a better view of both themselves and then this vanished world which I think would if I had made to come alive a little bit, then that's what I have been trying to do it. Thank you and that's it.