The Formative Years of Cao Xueqin 1715–1745
9. The Right Wing Imperial Clan School and the Dun Brothers
| 181 →
The Right Wing Imperial Clan School and the Dun Brothers
We last left Cao Xueqin beginning to search for a job. While male bondservants had to report for government duty at the age of eighteen, Cao did not, probably because he received a dispensation since his family was in disgrace.1 It has been speculated that he was a student for awhile in an exclusive school founded by the Yongzheng emperor located in Xian’an Palace for the children of members of the Imperial Household Department. There are also rumors that he may have worked for some time as a Biteishi, a secretary in a government agency, but was let go because of his difficult personality. But there is no strong evidence for either of these theories. There is little doubt that his economic situation during this period was quite precarious and that he felt great guilt over his inability to find a suitable position for someone of his background.2 Zhou Ruchang has argued that ← 181 | 182 → ← 182 | 183 → because of Cao’s privileged upbringing, “The only way he knew how to pull out of his misery was by begging for help from relatives and friends, and bearing the shame that came with humility.”3 Some scholars have maintained that although some of Cao’s relatives snubbed him (including his in-laws),4 he may have stayed with his famous cousin Prince Ping, who was married to one of Cao Yin’s daughters, until Ping’s...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.