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Novel adapted from Chinese fiction triggers controversy
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"If you really love the original A Dream of the Red Mansions, don't touch this one," said Lin Siyan, a reader from Taiwan. "The language of the new novel is awkward. Delicate poetic language is replaced by the contemporary tongue."

What made Giff, a "red fan" or lover of the Chinese novel, feel awkward was the use of familiar figures in the novel.

"I just cannot imagine that Jia Baoyu (hero of both the new and original novels) acts as a self-possessed amateur detective. Reading through the Japanese fiction, I kept asking 'who is this guy?'" Giff said.

In the original fiction, Jia is a Don Juan-like figure born with a silver spoon and grows up in a grand garden with many pretty female cousins and servants.

"I haven't read the new book but suggest more tolerance towards works of fiction as they are not serious academic research works," said Sun Yuming, secretary general of the Chinese Society for the Study of the Novel "A Dream of the Red Mansions", a leading academic group in this field. "Let's leave it to the readers. It can be a development of the original book if there are really new ideas in such adapted works."

The 200-year-old novel has been a hot cultural topic in today's China. Experts have kept putting forwards new research findings about it and a new TV drama adaptation will begin shooting in October this year. Which actors and actresses should play the leading roles are rousing nation-wide debate on Internet and in traditional media.

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2008)

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