Dream of the Red Chamber (9780804856744)

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Tuttle Publishing
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5 1/8 X 8

"One of the great novels of world literature…to the Chinese as Proust is to the French or Karamazov to the Russians." —Anthony West, literary critic

Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone) is renowned for its epic scope, rich psychological characterizations and telling observations on family life and the role of women in Chinese society. One of the Four Great Classical Novels in Chinese literature, along with Journey to the West, The Water Margin, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms; Dream of the Red Chamber is widely regarded as the greatest Chinese classical novel, and one of the greatest works of world literature ever written.

The "red chamber" refers to a sheltered area in wealthy households where daughters were confined until married—a veritable prison where dreams of true love wither. This sweeping tale tells of the rise and fall of rival branches of the wealthy Jia family, who live in lavish adjacent compounds surrounded by a lush, private garden.

The story opens with the birth of Jia Baoyu, heir apparent and darling of the women in the Jia household. A free-thinker and idealist, Baoyu soon rebels against his stern father, who refuses to allow his son to pursue a romantic affair with Lin Daiyu—a headstrong and intelligent woman who shares his love of music and poetry. Baoyu is forced instead to marry Xue Baochai, an equally talented and beautiful woman but someone with whom he has no emotional connection. The fates of the star-crossed lovers and their families slowly unravel as this tragic story unfolds.

Dream of the Red Chamber, although written by a man, is said to be one of the first great works of women's literature. The author, Cao Xueqin, is thought to have written the novel as a memorial to the inspiring women he knew in his youth.

About the Author:
Cao Xueqin was born into a wealthy family whose status diminished, and whose fortune was confiscated when he was still a child. He spent the remainder of his life in poverty. Dream of the Red Chamber, which he wrote over a period of twenty years, was not published until thirty years after his death, in 1791.

H. Bencraft Joly was Vice-Consulate of Macao at the time he translated Dream of the Red Chamber in an effort to advance appreciation of Chinese literature among Westerns.

John Minford is Emeritus Professor of Chinese at The Australian National University, and Sin Wai Kin Distinguished Professor of Chinese Culture and Translation at the Hang Seng University of Hong Kong. He has published widely on Chinese literature and translated numerous works including Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio and the Art of War.

Edwin Lowe is an independent publisher of books on the humanities who has over 20 years of experience as an educator of Asian studies. He has taught at Macquarie University, the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales.