Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦

The best masterpiece in the history of Chinese classical novels

Overview

Chinese Name: 红楼梦

English Name: Dream of the Red Chamber

Other Name: Dream of the red Mansions, The Story of the Stone 石头记

Author: Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹

Originally Published: 1791-1912 (Qing Dynasty 清朝)

Genre: Novel

Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦
Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦

Brief Introduction of Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦 is an ancient Chinese full-length novel of Zhang Hui style 章回体 and the best masterpiece in the history of Chinese classical novels written by Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹 in the Qing Dynasty 清朝. Together with the Romance of The Three Kingdoms 三国演义, Water Margin 水浒传 and Journey to the West 西游记, it is one of the Four Great Classical Novels in China 中国四大名著.

It has 120 chapters. The novel takes the rise and fall of Jia Family 贾府, Shi Family 史府, Wang Family 王府 and Xue Family 薛府 as the background, takes the rich child Jia Baoyu 贾宝玉 as the angle of view, takes the tragic love and marriage of Jia Baoyu, Lin Daiyu 林黛玉 and Xue Baochai 薛宝钗 as the main line, describes the life of some boudoir beauties based on their behavior and insight and shows the real beauty of human nature and tragedy. It can be said to be an epic work that shows the beauty of women and the social conditions of ancient China from all angles.

In order to reward Godying waiter 神英侍者 irrigation grace, Jiangzhu fairy 绛珠仙女 will be a lifetime of tears to repay, with Godying waiter to experience hardships. Jia Baoyu is the reincarnation of Godying waiter and Lin Daiyu is the reincarnation of Jiangzhu fairy. This marriage is called “wooden stone alliance 木石前盟 “. Ancient Nuwa 女娲 refined stone to repair the stone left by the sky, which is a spiritual stone. It was Jia Baoyu’s “Psychic baoyu 通灵宝玉” when he was born. The Dream of the Red Chamber is also called The Story of the Stone.

Jia Baoyu is smart and talented, and people have high expectations of him. However, he embarked on the road of rebellion, hating the Eight-part essay 八股文, criticizing The Neo-Confucianism of Cheng and Zhu 程朱理学, and disliked those who read books and became officials. He played with the girls of his family all day long, loving their beauty and purity, and grieved over their tragic fate.

Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦(贾宝玉和林黛玉在园中读书)
Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu are reading The Story of the Western Chamber in the garden. 贾宝玉和林黛玉在园中读《西厢记》。

Lin Daiyu was well-read and knowledgeable, but aloof, unworldly and sentimental. Lin Daiyu loses mother, enter Jia Family to attach outside grandmother and love each other with Jia Baoyu. Xue Baochai’s behavior is generous, not only the outstanding temperament of a gentlewoman, calm and indifferent, gentle and gentle personality, but also the bold and magnanimous hidden in the depths of her heart. She hated the darkness of officialdom, but still admonished Jia Baoyu to read and become an official. Later Xue Baochai also stationed in Jia Family.

Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦(贾宝玉和府中的女人们在读书)
Jia Baoyu read and wrote with the women in his family. 贾宝玉和府上的女人们一起读书写字。

Wang Xifeng 王熙凤 is young and beautiful, smart and capable, won the trust of Mother jia and Lady Wang. She is tactful and considerate, and she has done many things for gain and death. She’s the one who got Jia Rui 贾瑞 killed. Jia Yuanchun 贾元春 was named Xiande confey 贤德妃, was approved to visit home, Yuanchun title Jia Family courtyard “Grand View Garden 大观园”. Tanchun 探春 organized the Begonia Poetry Society 海棠诗社, and more and more talented people came to Jia Family, and the Grand View Garden was much more lively than before. Different ideas, different identities and status of people gathered in the Grand View Garden, a series of stories happened here.

Dream of the Red Chamber 红楼梦(大观园热闹场景)
A lively scene in the Grand View Garden. 大观园中的热闹景象。

Dream of the Red Chamber is a world-influential human relations novel, an encyclopedia of Chinese feudal society and a summation of traditional culture. There are more than 480 people in it. It comprehensively and profoundly reflects the characteristics of the prosperous and declining feudal society. It exposes all kinds of darkness and evil in the late feudal society, and its insurmountable internal contradictions, and powerfully criticizes the decadent feudal ruling class and the collapsing feudal system. It has its own brand-new appearance in both ideological content and artistic skills, and has permanent artistic charm, which makes it stand out among the world literature.

Author of Dream of the Red Chamber

Cao Xueqin (28 May 1715 — 12 February 1763), born in Nanjing 南京, was a writer of the Qing Dynasty.

Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹
Cao Xueqin 曹雪芹

Cao Xueqin was born relatively wealthy and lived a rich life. He had been living in such a rich environment of literature and art since childhood, receiving good education and reading widely. But he hated the Eight-part essay, did not like to read the Four Books and Five Classics, disliked the imperial examination and so on.

At the age of 13, Cao Xueqin moved back to his old residence in Beijing with his family after his family was expropriated due to the crime of deficit. Cao’s family fell into ruin and made a living by selling calligraphy and painting and helping friends. Having experienced a major turning point in his life, Cao Xueqin felt deeply the fickleness of the world and had a more sober and profound understanding of the feudal society. He despised dignitaries, shunned officialdom, and lived a hard life of poverty.

After years of hardships, he finally created a great work of thought and artistry — Dream of the Red Chamber. In his later years, Cao Xueqin moved to the western suburbs of Beijing. Life was poorer. In 1762, his young son died, and he was bedridden with excessive grief and grief. Around 1763, he died of an illness that could not afford medical treatment.

Cao Xueqin’s greatest contribution lies in his literary creation. Cao Xueqin left valuable cultural heritage and spiritual wealth for the Chinese nation and the people of the world.

Excerpts From Dream of the Red Chamber

 大仁者修治天下,大恶者扰乱天下。

When the world is stable, people will be spared suffering and production and social progress will be promoted. If the world is disturbed, the people will suffer, production will be destroyed and society will backslide.

叹人间美中不足今方信,纵然是举案齐眉,到底意难平。

I believe today that every good thing in the world has its limits. Even if Baochai is virtuous, it can not eliminate my deep feeling for sister Lin.

任凭弱水三千,我只取一瓢饮。

There will be many good things in life, just one of them is enough.

Evaluation of Dream of the Red Chamber

Dream of the Red Chamber has become the spiritual wealth of the Chinese people because of its extraordinary value.

Wang Guowei 王国维

One cannot understand feudal society without reading a Dream of Red Mansions. Read it not just as a novel, but as history.

Mao Zedong 毛泽东

A Dream of Red Mansions is a highly advanced work with a complex and original plot.

1910 Edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica 1910年版《大英百科全书》

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