Who is Rouge Inkstone?
Rouge Inkstone or Red Inkstone is the pseudonym of an early, mysterious commentator of the 18th-century Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. This person was a contemporary of the author Cao Xueqin, who knew the author intimately enough to be regarded as the chief commentator of his work, while it was still unpublished. Most early handcopied manuscripts of the novel contain red-inked commentaries by a number of unknown commentators, which were nonetheless considered still authoritative enough to be transcribed by scribes. Rouge Inkstone is the most prominent of these commentators. Early copies of Dream are known as 脂硯齋重評石頭記. These versions were known as 脂本, or "Rouge Versions", in Chinese. They are the manuscripts with the highest textual integrity.
Rouge Inkstone clearly had finished reading Cao's finished draft to reveal details which would otherwise be lost to later generations. For example, it is his/her comments which led scholars to learn about the original ending. Rouge Inkstone also conclusively identified the work as Cao Xueqin's. Orthodox Redologists rely extensively on Rouge Inkstone's notes for research and scholarly speculation, although the identity of Rouge Inkstone remains a mystery.
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on July 23, 2013
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