Dr. Edward LuperSpecialist in Chinese Art, Bonhams
Edward Luper is a specialist of Chinese Art at Bonhams, London. He studied Chinese language (modern and classical) at SOAS before continuing with a Masters and D.Phil at Oxford University. His thesis was on the Ming dynasty artist and poet Xu Wei (1521-1593).
Art-Objects, Death and Nostalgia in the Story of the Stone
This talk by Dr. Edward Luper will follow our Annual General Meeting.
In the 18th-century novel, The Story of the Stone (石頭記) by Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 (1715-1763), art objects play an important part in provoking within some characters personal memories and nostalgia, most often exclusively linked to the death of a relative or loved one. In the novel, objects that provoke nostalgia and memory for the dead are not comforting, rather following Buddhist ideas regarding attachment, they are associated with causing pain and suffering. Yet the deep attachment to material objects and nostalgia that permeates the novel (both from the characters and the author himself) appears to counter with the Buddhist teaching of impermanence and non-attachment. This paper argues that the author ultimately used the pain and suffering, that came with attachment to objects through memory and nostalgia, as a device to show the illusory nature of this world. In this way, greater understanding of pain and suffering could lead eventually to enlightenment.