Diogenes 53 (1):122 - 134 (2006)

With Peach Blossom Spring and other poetical works written by Tao Qian in the 5th century, there was born a vision of utopia that remains forever etched into the Chinese collective imaginary. Thirteen centuries later, Cao Xueqin drew inspiration from it when he gave form to the ‘Grandview Garden’, a universe with fundamentally female characteristics and one of the centres for the plot of The Story of the Stone, a masterpiece of Chinese romantic fiction also known as ‘Dream of the Red Chamber/Mansions’. Reading the two works in parallel, in both the figurative and the literal sense, points up the message of the Daodejing that utopia cannot be planned or imposed. In fact it emerges from a spirit of openness, an attitude of patient waiting, listening with the ear of the other. This intuition leads to reflection on difference, based on Zhuangzi’s Butterfly Dream
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DOI 10.1177/0392192106062457
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