I have a very difficult Chinese literature question, and even my profesor doesn’t know the answer … I doubt anyone here would know, but I thought I’d give it a try …
In the novel “Dream of the Red Chamber” (紅樓夢), Baoyu’s first male lover is a boy named Qin Zhong (秦鍾). All of the names of the characters in the novels have significance … either a hidden meaning, pun, or are drawn from some passage in classical literature. The name usually reveals a lot about the character and personality of the individual, so knowing the “hidden meaning” of their name is crucial in doing any sort of in-depth character analysis.
Anyway, Qin Zhong’s name has two explanations: (1) it comes from a poem by the Wei-Jin (魏晉) poet Wang Rong (王戎)﹕「情之所鍾﹐正在我背。」The second explanation is that it means 情種 (qing-2 zhong-3, “seed of passion”). These have both been researched and verified. However, he also has another name (表字), which is “Qin Jing-qing” (秦鯨卿). No one seems to know what this means. It appears only three times in the novel … once in Chapter 9, and also in two chapter titles. If anyone is familiar with the novel, you’ll know that he is the younger brother of Qin Ke-qing (秦可卿) whose name can mean 情可輕. A good starting point would be Wei-Jin period poetry, since that is where Qin Zhong’s name comes from, and that was the author of HLM’s favorite period of literature and philosophical thought.
So, anyone think they can figure this one out?
P.S. I have also thoroughly combed the “Red Inkstone” commentary (脂硯齋評語) and none of the commentators make any reference to his name … although the character of Qin Zhong does seem to be based on a real person in the author’s life.