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Encyclopedia > Dream of the Red Chamber
Dream of the Red Chamber
紅樓夢
Author Cáo Xuěqín
Original title 紅樓夢
Translator David Hawkes (scholar)/John Minford, see Translations section
Country China
Language Chinese
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher
Publication date 18th century
Published in English 1973–1980 (1st complete English translation)
Media type Scribal copies/Print

Dream of the Red Chamber (Traditional Chinese: 紅樓夢; Simplified Chinese: 红楼梦; pinyin: Hónglóu mèng), also known as A Dream of Red Mansions or The Story of the Stone (Traditional Chinese: 石頭記; Simplified Chinese: 石头记; pinyin: Shítóu jì) is one of the masterpieces of Chinese fiction. It was composed sometime in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty. The novel's authorship is attributed to Cáo Xuěqín (Cao Zhan). The Story of the Stone can refer to: Another title for the classic Chinese novel commonly known in English as Dream of the Red Chamber. ... Cao Xueqin (Chinese: ; pinyin: Cáo XuÄ›qín) (? 1715 - c. ... David Hawkes (1923- ) is a British Sinologist. ... “The Story of the Stone” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Country (disambiguation). ... This article is about the literary concept. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... Traditional Chinese (Traditional Chinese: 正體字/繁體字, Simplified Chinese: 正体字/繁体字) refers to one of two standard sets of printed Chinese characters. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Pinyin, more formally called Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; Pinyin: ), is the most common variant of Standard Mandarin romanization system in use. ... Traditional Chinese (Traditional Chinese: 正體字/繁體字, Simplified Chinese: 正体字/繁体字) refers to one of two standard sets of printed Chinese characters. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Chinese literature spans back thousands of years, from the earliest recorded dynastic court archives to the matured fictional novel arising in the medieval period to entertain the masses of literate Chinese. ... (17th century - 18th century - 19th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 18th century refers to the century that lasted from 1701 through 1800. ... Flag (1890-1912) Anthem Gong Jinou (1911) Territory of Qing China in 1892 Capital Shengjing (1636-1644) Beijing (1644-1912) Language(s) Chinese Manchu Mongolian Government Monarchy Emperor  - 1636-1643 Huang Taiji  - 1908-1912 Xuantong Emperor Prime Minister  - 1911 Yikuang  - 1911-1912 Yuan Shikai History  - Establishment of the Late... Cao Xueqin (Chinese: ; pinyin: Cáo XuÄ›qín) (? 1715 - c. ...


The novel is usually grouped with three other pre-modern Chinese works of fiction, collectively known as the Four Great Classical Novels. Of these, Dream of the Red Chamber is often acknowledged to be the zenith of Chinese classical fiction by scholars, although the novel as it survives is incomplete and completed by another's hand. The Four Great Classical Novels (四大名著) of Chinese literature, not to be confused with the Four Books of Confucianism, in order of publication, are: Romance of the Three Kingdoms (三國演義) (1330) Water Margin (水滸傳) (also known as Outlaws of the Marsh) (1573?) Journey to the West (西遊記) (1590) Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢)(1792...

Contents

Plot summary

A scene from the story, painted by Xu Bao (born 1810). Other scenes.
A scene from the story, painted by Xu Bao (born 1810).
Other scenes.

The novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring the fortunes of Cao Xueqin's own family. As the author details in the first chapter, it was intended to be a memorial to the women he knew in his youth: friends, relatives and servants. A scene from Chronicles of the Stone. ... A scene from Chronicles of the Stone. ... Scenes from Chronicles of the Stone. ... Cao Xueqin (Chinese: ; pinyin: Cáo Xuěqín) (? 1715 - c. ...


The novel itself is a detailed, episodic record of the lives of the extended Jia Clan, made up of two branches, the Ning-guo and Rong-guo Houses, which occupies two large adjacent family compounds in the Qing capital, Beijing. Their ancestors were made Dukes, and at the novel's start the two houses were still one of the most illustrious families in the capital. Originally extremely wealthy and influential, with a female member made an Imperial Concubine, the Clan eventually fell into disfavour with the Emperor, and had their mansions raided and confiscated. The novel is a charting of the Jias' fall from the height of their prestige, centering on some 30 main characters and over 400 minor ones. “Peking” redirects here. ... A swampy marsh area ... An emperor is a (male) monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. ...


The story is prefaced with supernatural Taoist and Buddhist overtones. A sentient Stone, abandoned by the Goddess Nüwa when she mended the heavens, enters the mortal realm after begging a Taoist priest and Buddhist monk to bring it to see the world. Taoism (Daoism) is the English name referring to a variety of related Chinese philosophical and religious traditions and concepts. ... A silhouette of a Buddha statue at Ayutthaya, Thailand. ... For the character Nu Wa in the Chinese novel Fengshen Yanyi, see Nu Wa Niang Niang Nüwa iconograph in Shan Hai Jing In Chinese mythology, Nüwa (Traditional Chinese: 女媧; Simplified Chinese: 女娲; Pinyin: nÇšwā) is mythological character best known for reproducing people after a great calamity. ...


The main character, Jia Baoyu, is the adolescent heir of the family, apparently the reincarnation of the Stone (the most reliable Jiaxu manuscript however has the Stone and Jia Baoyu as two separate, though related, entities). In that previous life he had a relationship with a flower, who is incarnated now as Baoyu's sickly cousin, the emotional Lin Daiyu. However, he is predestined in this life, despite his love for Daiyu, to marry another cousin, Xue Baochai. The novel follows this love triangle against the backdrop of the family's declining fortunes. Jia Baoyu (賈寶玉) is the name of one of the principal characters of the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, also known as the Story of the Stone. ... A separate article is about the punk band called The Adolescents. ... Reincarnation, literally to be made flesh again, is a doctrine or mystical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body. ... Lin Daiyu (林黛玉) is one of the principal characters of Cao Xueqins classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... Xue Baochai (薛寶釵) is one of the principal characters in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ...


The novel is remarkable not only in its huge cast of characters — over 400 in all, most of whom are female — and its psychological scope, but also in its precise and detailed observations of the life and social structures of 18th-century China.[1]


Themes

Fiction / Reality

The name of the main family, "賈" has the same pronunciation in Mandarin as another Chinese character "假", which means fake, deceitful, factitious or sham. Thus Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹) suggests that the novel's family is both a reflection of his own family, and simultaneously fictional - or a "dream"-version of his family that is a mixture of real and fake story telling. (Baoyu(宝玉) occasionally dreams of another Baoyu, whose surname is "Zhen", which puns on "real".) This article is on all of the Northern and Southwestern Chinese dialects. ... Japanese name Kanji: Kana: Korean name Hangul: Hanja: Vietnamese name Quoc Ngu: Hantu: A Chinese character (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; Pinyin: ) is a logogram used in writing Chinese, Japanese, sometimes Korean, and formerly Vietnamese. ...


The novel is normally called Hong Lou Meng (紅樓夢) - literally "Red Mansion Dream". "Red Mansion" was an idiom for the sheltered chambers where the daughters of wealthy families lived; thus the title can be understood as a "dream of young women". It can also be understood as referring to a dream that Baoyu has - in a "Red Mansion" - at Chapter 5 of the novel, where the fates of many of the female characters are foreshadowed. "Red" also suggests the Buddhist idea that the whole world is "red dust" (紅塵) - merely illusory and to be shunned. Thus the novel fits in perfectly with Buddhist (佛) and Taoist (道) beliefs that to find enlightenment, one must realize that the world is but a dream from which we must awake. An idiom is an expression (i. ... A replica of an ancient statue found among the ruins of a temple at Sarnath Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, a prince of the Shakyas, whose lifetime is traditionally given as 566 to 486 BCE. It had subsequently been accepted by... For other uses of the words tao and dao, see Dao (disambiguation). ... Enlightenment (or brightening) broadly means the acquisition of new wisdom or understanding enabling clarity of perception. ...


Language and Characters

A screenshot from China's 1987 CCTV adaptation. The exquisite ritual here is indicative of the TV series' faithful adaptation of the novel. From left, three main female characters: Lin Daiyu (in blue, played by Chen Xiaoxu), Xue Baochai (yellow), Shi Xiangyun (red).

The novel, written in Vernacular Chinese and not Classical Chinese, is one of works which establishes the legitimacy of the vernacular idiom. Its author is well versed in Classical Chinese – with tracts written in erudite semi-wenyan – and in Chinese poetry. The novel's conversations are written in a vivid Beijing Mandarin dialect which was to become the basis of modern spoken Chinese, with influences from Nanjing Mandarin (where Cao's family lived in the early 1700s). Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 529 pixel Image in higher resolution (900 × 595 pixel, file size: 156 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The classic 1986 CCTV version, promo photo This image is of a film poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 800 × 529 pixel Image in higher resolution (900 × 595 pixel, file size: 156 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) The classic 1986 CCTV version, promo photo This image is of a film poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned... CCTV can stand for: China Central Television Closed-circuit television This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Lin Daiyu (林黛玉) is one of the principal characters of Cao Xueqins classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... Chen Xiaoyu played Lin Daiyu in the 1987 TV series Dream of the Red Chamber Chen Xiaoxu (Traditional Chinese: 陳曉旭; Simplified Chinese: 陈晓旭; Pinyin: Chén XiÇŽoxù; October 1965 — May 13, 2007) was a Chinese actress, famous for her role as Lin Daiyu in 1987 TV series Dream of the Red... Xue Baochai (薛寶釵) is one of the principal characters in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... Dream of the Red Chamber (Traditional Chinese: 紅樓夢; Simplified Chinese: 红楼梦; pinyin: Hónglóu mèng), also known as A Dream of Red Mansions, The Story of the Stone, or Chronicles of the Stone (Traditional Chinese: 石頭記; Simplified Chinese: 石头记; pinyin: Shítóu jì) is one of the masterpieces of Chinese fiction. ... Vernacular Chinese (pinyin: báihuà; Wade-Giles: paihua) is a style or register of the written Chinese language essentially modeled after the spoken language and associated with Standard Mandarin. ... Classical Chinese or Literary Chinese is a traditional style of written Chinese based on the grammar and vocabulary of very old forms of Chinese , making it very different from any modern spoken form of Chinese. ... Quatrain on Heavenly Mountain by Emperor Gaozong Hand-painted Chinese New Years duilian (對聯 couplet), a by-product of Chinese poetry, pasted on the sides of doors leading to peoples homes, at Lijiang City, Yunnan Poetry is the most highly regarded literary genre in ancient China. ... Note: This page or section contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. ...


The novel contains nearly 30 characters which could be considered major, and hundreds of minor ones. Cao centers the novel on Jia Baoyu, the male protagonist, and the female relations around him, at one point intending to call the book The Twelve Beauties of Jinling. Females in this novel take centerstage and are frequently shown to be more capable than their male counterparts. They are also very learned literarily, unlike most Qing maidens of their time.


Main Characters

The Masters and Mistresses

Jia Baoyu(賈宝玉) - the main protagonist. He is the adolescent son of Jia Zheng(賈政) and his wife, Lady Wang(王夫人). Born with a piece of luminescent jade in his mouth, Baoyu is the heir apparent to the fortunes and official honors of the Rongguo line(荣国府). Much to his strict Confucian father's displeasure, however, Baoyu prefers reading novels and other types of casual literature to the philosophical and pedantic Four Books that were considered staples of a classical Chinese education. Although highly intelligent, Baoyu hates the company of the fawning bureaucrats that frequent his father's house and shuns the company of most men, whom he considers morally and spiritually inferior to women. Sensitive and compassionate, Baoyu famously holds the view that "girls are in essence pure as water, and men are in essence muddled as mud". Handsome and talented, Baoyu nevertheless spends all his time and energy attending to the needs of the women in the family, lamenting their helpless fate as pawns in the hands of a strict Confucian society and harboring many friendships among his female cousins and his sisters, all of whom he deems more gifted and deserving than men. Baoyu's sincere distaste for worldly affairs and his frustrated but insistent love for his cousin Daiyu(黛玉) later caused him to become a Buddhist monk and renounces all worldly ties. Jia Baoyu (賈寶玉) is the name of one of the principal characters of the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, also known as the Story of the Stone. ... A separate article is about the punk band called The Adolescents. ... Confucianism (儒家 Pinyin: rújiā The School of the Scholars), sometimes translated as the School of Literati, is an East Asian ethical, religious and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of Confucius. ... The Four Books of Confucianism (Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ) (not to be confused with the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature), are Chinese classic texts that Zhu Xi selected, in the Song dynasty, as an introduction to Confucianism: the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius...


Lin Daiyu(林黛玉) - Jia Baoyu's first cousin and his love interest. She is the daughter of a Jinling scholar-official Lin Ruhai(林如海) and Lady Jia Min(賈敏), the sister of Baoyu's father, Minister Jia Zheng(賈政). The novel proper starts in Chapter 3 with Daiyu's arrival at the Rongguo house(荣国府), where Baoyu and his family live, shortly after the death of her mother. Beautiful but emotionally fragile and prone to fits of jealousy, Daiyu is nevertheless an extremely accomplished poet, writer and musician. The novel designates her as one of the "Twelve Beauties of Jin Ling," describing her as a lonely, proud and ultimately tragic figure. According to the novel, Daiyu is the reincarnation of Crimson Pearl, and the very purpose of her mortal birth is to repay her divine nurturer, reborn as Baoyu, her "debt of tears". Lin Daiyu (林黛玉) is one of the principal characters of Cao Xueqins classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ...


Xue Baochai(薛宝钗) - Jia Baoyu's first cousin from his mother's side. The only daughter of Aunt Xue(薛姨妈), sister to Baoyu's mother, Baochai is written as a foil to Daiyu in many ways. While Daiyu is unconventional and hypersensitive, Baochai is sensible, tactful and a favorite of the Jia household, a model Chinese feudal maiden. The author describes her as a beautiful and intelligent girl, but also very reserved. Although reluctant to show the extent of her knowledge, Baochai seems to be quite learned about everything, from Buddhist teachings to how not to make a paint plate crack. Also one of the "Twelve Beauties in Jin Ling," Baochai has a round face, fair skin and some say a voluptuous figure, in contrast to Daiyu's willowy daintiness. Baochai carries a golden locket with her; the locket contains words given to her by a Buddhist monk in her childhood, and was meant to bring her closer to her future husband. Baochai's golden locket and Baoyu's jade contain inscriptions that appear to complement one another perfectly; for this reason, it was rumored by some that their match was predestined. Xue Baochai (薛寶釵) is one of the principal characters in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ...


Grandmother Jia, née Shi - also called the Matriarch or the Dowager. She is the daughter of Marquis Shi of Jinling. Both Baoyu's and Daiyu's grandmother, she is the highest living authority in the Rongguo house (and the oldest and most respected of the entire Clan) and a doting figure. She has two sons, Jia She and Jia Zheng, and a daughter, Min, Daiyu's mother. It is at the insistence of Grandmother Jia that Daiyu is brought to the house of Jia, and it is with her help that Daiyu and Baoyu forms their inseparable bond as childhood playmates and later, kindred spirits.


Shi Xiangyun - Jia Baoyu's second cousin by Grandmother Jia. She is Grandmother Jia's grand-niece. Orphaned since infancy, she grew up under her maternal uncle and aunt who use her unkindly and make her do embroidery and needlework for the whole family late into the night. In spite of her misfortunes, however, Xiangyun is opened-hearted and cheerful. A comparatively androgynous beauty, Xiangyun looks good in men's clothes, loves to drink and eat meat (considered male traits) and is forthright without tact. She is extremely learned and seemed to be as talented a poet as Daiyu or Baochai. She is also one of Jinling City's Twelve Beauties. Dream of the Red Chamber (Traditional Chinese: 紅樓夢; Simplified Chinese: 红楼梦; pinyin: Hónglóu mèng), also known as A Dream of Red Mansions, The Story of the Stone, or Chronicles of the Stone (Traditional Chinese: 石頭記; Simplified Chinese: 石头记; pinyin: Shítóu jì) is one of the masterpieces of Chinese fiction. ... The term cousin typically refers to the child of ones parents sibling. ...


Jia Yuanchun - Baoyu's elder sister by the same parents and Baoyu's senior by about a decade. Originally one of the lady-in-waiting in the imperial palace (the daughters of illustrious officials were often selected for such honorary posts), Yuanchun later becomes an Imperial Consort because she impressed the emperor with her virtue and learning. Her illustrious position as a favorite of the emperor marked the height of the Jia family's powers before its eventual wane. In spite of her prestigious position, however, Yuanchun appears remarkably unhappy and felt imprisoned within the four walls of the imperial palace, as splendid a cage as it was. The novel portrays her as a lonely, tragic figure who loved a quiet life at home but who was sent by her parents and her family to help maintain the family fortunes. Toward the end of the novel, Yuanchun's sudden death precipitated the fall of the Jia family; some say Yuanchun died of palace intrigue, the result of political forces moving against the Jia family. She is included in Jinling City's Twelve Beauties. Jia Yuanchun (贾元春) is a characters in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... Lady in Waiting is an album by American southern rock band The Outlaws, released in 1976. ...


Wang Xifeng, alias Phoenix, Sister Feng - Baoyu's elder Cousin-in-law, young wife to Jia Lian (who is Baoyu's paternal first cousin), niece to Lady Wang. Xifeng is related to Baoyu both by blood and marriage. An extremely handsome woman, Xifeng is capable, clever, amusing and at times, vicious and cruel. Undeniably the most worldly of the women in the novel, Xifeng is in charge of the daily running of the Rongguo household and wields remarkable economic as well as political power within the family. Being a favorite niece of Lady Wang, Xifeng keeps both Lady Wang and Grandmother Jia entertained with her constant jokes and amusing chatter, plays the role of the perfect filial daughter-in-law, and by pleasing Grandmother Jia, rules the entire household with an iron fist. One of the most remarkable multi-faceted personalities in the novel, Xifeng can be kind-hearted toward the poor and helpless--her charitable contributions to the family of Granny Liu remains gratefully acknowledged by the latter, and she seems to feel genuine affection for Baoyu and his sisters. On the other hand, however, Xifeng can be cruel enough to kill; she effects her husband's concubine to such a degree that the young woman commits suicide, orders the death of a man just to prevent him from revealing her secret machinations, and causes the death of a man who fell in love with her by torturing his mind and body. Her feisty personality, her loud laugh and her great beauty formed refreshing contrasts to the many frail, weak-willed beauties that plagued the literature of 18th-century China. Xifeng's name translates to "the Phoenix" - a mythical bird of authority. She is also one of Jinling City's Twelve Beauties. Wang Xifeng (王熙鳳) is one of the principal characters in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... The phoenix from the Aberdeen Bestiary. ...


Jia Zheng - Baoyu's father, a stern disciplinarian and Confucian scholar. Afraid his one surviving son would turn bad, he imposed strict rules and occasional corporal punishment for his son. He has a wife, Lady Wang, and two concubines. Corporal punishment is forced pain intended to change a persons behaviour or to punish them. ...


Lady Wang - Baoyu's mother, a Buddhist, primary wife of Jia Zheng. Because of her purported ill-health, she hands over the running of the household to her niece, Xifeng, as soon as the latter marries into the Jia household, although she retains overall control over Xifeng's affairs so that the latter always has to report to her regarding important financial and family affairs. Although Lady Wang appears to be a kind mistress and a doting mother, she can be in fact cruel and ruthless when her authority is challenged. Lady Wang (王夫人) is a secondary character in the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ... A replica of an ancient statue found among the ruins of a temple at Sarnath Buddhism is a philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama, a prince of the Shakyas, whose lifetime is traditionally given as 566 to 486 BCE. It had subsequently been accepted by...


Jia Yingchun - Second female in the generation of the Jia household after Yuanchun, Yinchun is the daughter of Jia She, Baoyu's uncle and therefore his eldest female cousin. A kind-hearted, weak-willed, devout Taoist, Yingchun is said to have a "wooden" personality and seems rather apathetic toward all worldly affairs. Although very pretty and well-read, she does not compare in intelligence and wit to any of her cousins. Yingchun's most famous trait, it seems, is her unwillingness to meddle in the affairs of her family; she would rather read a book than command her servants or quarrel with others. Eventually Yingchun marries a new favorite of the imperial court, her marriage merely one her father's desperate attempts to raise the declining fortunes of the Jia family. About 2/3 of the way through the novel, the newly married Yingchun becomes a victim of domestic abuse and constant violence at the hands of her cruel, abusive husband. Yingchun dies within a year of marriage. She is one of Jinling City's Twelve Beauties.


Jia Tanchun - Baoyu's younger half-sister, by Concubine Zhao, second wife to Jia Zheng. Brash and extremely outspoken, she is described to be almost as capable as Wang Xifeng, once temporarily taking over the family's day-to-day financial affairs when the latter was ill after miscarriage. Wang Xifeng herself compliments her privately, but laments she was "born in the wrong womb" – concubines' offsprings are not treated with as much respect as those by first wives. Tanchun has a nickname of "Rose", which is to describe her beauty and also her sharp, prickly personality. Tanchun eventually was married off to a faraway land. Some versions of the novel say that she was bound in a political marriage to the ruler of a foreign country as a result of a post-war treaty; either way, the original version of the novel described her marriage as ultimately unhappy as she missed her relatives far away. She is also one of Jinling City's Twelve Beauties.


Li Wan - Baoyu's elder sister-in-law, widow of Baoyu's deceased elder brother, Zhu. Her primary task is to bring up her son Lan and watch over her female cousins. The novel portrays Li Wan, a young widow in her late twenties, as a mild-mannered woman with no wants or desires, the perfect Confucian ideal of a proper mourning widow. She eventually attains high social status due to the success of her son, but the novel sees her as a tragic figure because she wasted her youth upholding the strict standards of behavior a Confucian society imposes on its young women, and in the end is never happy in spite of her family fortunes. She is also one of Jin Ling City's Twelve Beauties. Li Wan (李紈) is the name of one of principal characters of the Chinese classic novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ...


Jia Xichun - Baoyu's younger second cousin from the Ningguo House, but brought up in the Rongguo Mansion. A gifted painter, she is also a devout Buddhist. At the end of the novel, after the fall of the house of Jia, she gives up her worldly concerns and becomes a Buddhist nun. She is the second youngest of Jin Ling City's Twelve Beauties, described as a pre-teen in most part of the novel.


Aunt Xue, née Wang - Baoyu's maternal aunt, mother to Pan and Baochai, sister to Lady Wang. She is kindly and affable for the most part, but finds it hard to control her unruly son.


Xue Pan - Baochai's older brother, a dissolute, idling rake who was a local bully in Jinling. Not particularly well studied, he once killed a man over a servant-girl and had the manslaughter case done over with money.


Jia Lian - Xifeng's husband and Baoyu's paternal elder cousin, a notorious womanizer whose numerous affairs cause much trouble with his jealous wife. His pregnant concubines eventually died by his wife's engineering. Along with Xifeng, he manages the Jia household inside and out. He and his wife are in charge of most hiring and monetary allocation decision, and often fight over this power.


Jia Qiaojie - Wang Xifeng's and Jia Lian's daughter. The youngest of the Twelve Beauties of Jin Ling, she was a child through much of the novel. After the fall of the house of Jia, she married the son of Granny Liu and lead an uneventful peasant life in the countryside.


Qin Keqing - daughter-in-law to Jia Zhen. She is one of the Twelve Beauties. Of all the characters in the novel the circumstances of her life and early death are amongst the most mysterious; different editions of the novel are dramatically different. The author has clearly edited the present edition due to clear discrepancies in chapter titles. Apparently a very beautiful and flirtatious woman, she carried on an affair with her father-in-law and died before the second quarter of the novel. The present text hint at death by suicide, although some scholars speculate that she may have been connected politically and was murdered/ordered to be put to death, and that the political circumstances that surround her death later played a part in precipitating the fall of the house of Jia.


Miaoyu (Adamantina) - a young nun from Buddhist cloisters of the Rongguo house. Beautiful, very learned but arrogant and disdainful. She is the last of Jinling City's Twelve Beauties to be introduced.


Granny Liu - a country rustic and distant relation to the Wang family, who provides a comic contrast to the ladies of the Rongguo House during two visits. She took Qiaojie away to hide in her village when her maternal uncle wanted to sell her.


The maids and bondservants

Xiren ("Invading Fragrance", Aroma) - Baoyu's principle maid and his unofficial concubine (at that period in Chinese history, a man often has sexual relations with his maids and these maids are only honored with the title of a second wife (concubine) after the man marries his principal wife from a proper matching family). Originally the maid of the Dowager, Xiren was given to Baoyu because of her extreme loyalty toward the master she serves. Considerate and forever worrisome over Baoyu, she is his first adolescent sexual encounter during the early chapters of the novel. Madame de Pompadour the mistress of King Louis XV of France. ...


Qingwen (Skybright) - Baoyu's other handmaiden. Brash, haughty and the most beautiful maid in the household, Qingwen is said to resemble Daiyu very strongly. Of all of Baoyu's maids, she is the only one who dares to argue with Baoyu when reprimanded, but is also extremely devoted to him. She never had a sexual affair with Baoyu and was disdainful of Xiren's attempt to use her sexual relation with Baoyu to raise her status in the family. Lady Wang later suspected her of having an affair with Baoyu and publicly dismissed her on that account; angry at the unfair treatment she received and of the indignities and slanders that attended her as a result, Qingwen died shortly of an illness after leaving the Jia household. A handmaiden (or handmaid) is a female assistant (or slave) that waits at hand as a servant or attendant. ...


Ping'er (Patience) - Xifeng's chief maid and personal confidante; also concubine to Xifeng's husband, Jia Lian. The consensus among the novel's characters seem to be that Ping'er is beautiful enough to rival the mistresses in the house. Originally Xifeng's maid in the Wang household, she follows Xifeng as part of her "dowry" when Xifeng marries into the Jia household. Ping'er leads a hard life being torn between the jealous Xifeng and the womanizing Jia Lian. She handles her troubles with grace and appears to have the respect of most of the household servants. She is also one of the very few people who can get close to Xifeng. She wields considerable power in the house as Xifeng's most trusted assistant, but uses her power sparingly and justly.


Xiangling (Fragrant Lotus; Calthrop) - the Xues' maid, born Zhen Ying-lian (a pun with "she who is to be pitied"), the lost and kidnapped daughter to Zhen Shiyin, the country gentleman in Chapter 1. She was the cause of a manslaughter case involving Xue Pan. For other uses, see Pun (disambiguation). ...


Zijuan (Purple Nightingale) - Daiyu's chief maid, ceded by Grandmother Jia to his granddaughter. A very faithful companion to Dai-yu.


Yuanyang (Mandarin Duck) - Grandmother Jia's chief maid. She rejected a marriage proposal (as concubine) to the lecherous Jia She, Grandmother Jia's eldest son. After Grandmother Jia's death during the clan's declining days, she possibly commits suicide. Binomial name Aix galericulata (Linnaeus, 1758) The Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata), or just Mandarin, is a medium-sized perching duck, closely related to the North American Wood Duck. ...


Mingyan (Tealeaf Smoke) - Baoyu's young, male servant-attendant. Knows his master like the back of his hand.


Textual Problems

The textual problem of the novel is extremely complex and has been the subject of much critical scrutiny, debate and conjecture in modern times.[2] Cao did not live to publish his novel, and only hand-copied manuscripts survived after his death until 1791, when the first printed version was published. This printed version, known as the Chenggao edition, contains edits and revisions not authorised by the author.


Early manuscript versions

The novel, published up till the 20th century, was anonymous. Since the twentieth century, after Hu Shi's analyses, it is generally agreed Cao Xueqin wrote the first 80 chapters of the novel. Hu Shih (Simplified: 胡适, Traditional: 胡適, Pinyin: Hú Shì), (December 17, 1891-February 24, 1962) was a Chinese philosopher and essayist. ...


Up until 1791, the novel circulated merely in scribal transcripts. These early hand-copied versions end abruptly at the latest at the 80th chapter and furthermore contained trascribed comments and annotations from unknown commentators in red ink. These commentators' remarks reveal much about the author in person, and it is now believed some may even be members of Cao Xueqin's own family. The most prominent commentator is Red Inkstone (脂砚斋), who revealed much of the interior structuring of the work and the MS ending, now lost. These MS are the most textually reliable versions, known amongst scholars as "Rouge versions" (脂本). Even amongst the some 11 independent surviving manuscripts, small differences in some characters used, rearrangements and possible rewritings made the texts vary a little from another.


According to novel's first chapter, Cao Xueqin revised his novel five times and died before he had finished the fifth version. To compound this problem, parts of the latter chapters of the book were lost, so we only have 80 chapters that are definitively written by the author.


The early 80 chapters brim with prophecies and dramatic foreshadowings which also give hints as to how the book would continue. For example, it is obvious that Lin Daiyu will eventually die inthe course of the novel; that Baoyu and Baochai will marry; that Baoyu will become a monk; various characters will suffer in the snow; and that the whole estate will finally be consumed by flames.


Most modern critical editions have the first 80 chapters based on the Rouge versions.


The 120-chapter version

In 1791, Cheng Weiyuan and Gao E brought together the novel's first movable type edition. This was also the first "complete" edition of The Story of the Stone, which they printed as Dream of the Red Chamber. While the original Rouge manuscripts have up till 80 chapters, ending roughly three-quarters into the plot and clearly incomplete, the 1791 movable type edition completed the novel in 120 chapters. This first 80 chapter was edited from the Rouge versions, but the next 40 was newly published. 1791 (MDCCXCI) was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 11-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Gao E (Simplified Chinese: , born November 7, 1962 in Shenyang) is a female Chinese sports shooter who competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics, in the 1996 Summer Olympics, in the 2000 Summer Olympics, and in the 2004 Summer Olympics. ... A case of cast metal type pieces and typeset matter in a composing stick Movable type is the system of printing and typography using movable pieces of metal type, made by casting from matrices struck by letterpunches. ... A case of cast metal type pieces and typeset matter in a composing stick Movable type is the system of printing and typography using movable pieces of metal type, made by casting from matrices struck by letterpunches. ...


In 1792, Chen and Gao published a second edition correcting many "typographical and editorial" errors of the 1791 version with a now-famous preface. In the 1792 preface, the two editors claimed to have put together an ending based on the author's working manuscripts, which they bought from a street vendor.


The debate over the last 40 chapters and the 1792 preface still rages. Most modern scholars believe these chapters were a later addition, with inferior plotting and prose quality to the earlier 80 chapters. Hu Shih argued that the ending was simply forged by Gao E; he cited as support the various foreshadowings of the chief characters' fates in Chapter 5, which does not coincide with the ending of the 1791 Chenggao version. Hu Shih (Simplified: 胡适, Traditional: 胡適, Pinyin: Hú Shì), (December 17, 1891-February 24, 1962) was a Chinese philosopher and essayist. ... Gao E (Simplified Chinese: , born November 7, 1962 in Shenyang) is a female Chinese sports shooter who competed in the 1988 Summer Olympics, in the 1996 Summer Olympics, in the 2000 Summer Olympics, and in the 2004 Summer Olympics. ...


Other critics suggest Gao E and Cheng Weiyuan may be duped into taking someone else's forgery as an original work. A few scholars believe that the last 40 chapters contain Cao's work; these are the minority view however.


The book, though, is still normally published and read in Cheng Weiyuan and Gao E's 120-chapter complete version. Some modern critical editions now move these last 40 chapters to an appendix to indicate they were by another's hand. Look up appendix in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Translations

English, As A Dream of Red Mansions by Gladys Yang and Yang Hsien-yi, 1978


English, As Dream of the Red Chamber by Wang Chi-Chen, 1958


English, As The Story of the Stone by David Hawkes and John Minford, 1973-1980 (serialized)


Trivia

There are two craters on asteroid 433 Eros named after the novel's fictional characters, Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu. The asteroid 433 Eros (eer-os) was named after the Greek god of love Eros. ... Jia Baoyu (賈寶玉) is the name of one of the principal characters of the classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, also known as the Story of the Stone. ... Lin Daiyu (林黛玉) is one of the principal characters of Cao Xueqins classic Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber. ...


See also

Redology(紅學) is a cultural research on the Chinese classic fiction Dream of the Red Chamber. Categories: China-related stubs ...

Notes

  1. ^ CliffsNotes, About the Novel: Introduction. [1]
  2. ^ Dore Jesse Levy: Ideal and Actual in The Story of the Stone, p 7.

References

  • Jonathan D. Spence, The Search for Modern China, ISBN 0-393-30780-8
  • Cao, Xueqin. The Story of the Stone: a Chinese Novel: Vol 1, The Golden Days, trans. David Hawkes. ISBN 0-14-044293-6. 
  • Cao, Xueqin. The Story of the Stone: a Chinese Novel: Vol 2, The Crab-flower Club, trans. David Hawkes. ISBN 0-14-044326-6. 
  • Cao, Xueqin. The Story of the Stone: a Chinese Novel: Vol 3, The Warning Voice, trans. David Hawkes. ISBN 0-14-044370-3. 
  • Cao, Xueqin. The Story of the Stone: a Chinese Novel: Vol 4, The Debt of Tears, trans. John Minford. ISBN 0-14-044371-1. 
  • Cao, Xueqin. The Story of the Stone: a Chinese Novel: Vol 5, The Dreamer Wakes, trans. John Minford. ISBN 0-14-044372-X. 
  • Tsao Hsueh-Chin (Cao Xueqin), Dream of the Red Chamber, Translated & abridged by Chi-Chen Wang, Doubleday Anchor, 1958. ISBN 0-38-509379-9

David Hawkes (1923- ) is a British Sinologist. ...

External links

Wikisource
Chinese Wikisource has original text related to this article:

  Results from FactBites:
 
Chinese Classical Furniture Collectioon - the "Dream of Red Chamber" sofa set (485 words)
Having been a frequent dinner guest at the People's Congress of China, my father learned that there was a sofa set being commissioned by the People's Congress to be used in the guest hall, mainly used for receiving foreign government officials.
It was said that the sofa set took 5 years to complete, and each piece was carved with different scenes from the classical Chinese novel, "Dream of the Red Chamber".
During the process, three partially completed pieces had to be thrown away because there were some minor errors made to the scene from the novel of "Dream of the red chamber" that each chair had been carved with.
Dream of the Red Chamber - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1413 words)
Of these, Dream of the Red Chamber is often taken to be the zenith of classical Chinese fiction.
"Red Mansion" was an idiom for the daughters of rich men; thus the title can be understood as a "dream of rich young women".
It can also be understood as referring to a dream that Baoyu has - in a "Red Mansion" - at the beginning of the novel, where the deaths of many of the female characters are foreshadowed.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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