The Dream of the Red Chamber: Hung Lou Meng
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The Dream of the Red Chamber: Hung Lou Meng

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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,522 ratings  ·  142 reviews
满纸荒唐言,一把辛酸泪!都云作者痴,谁解其中味?小说以贾宝玉、林黛玉的爱情悲剧为主线,驾构出了贾、王、史、薛四 大家族的兴衰史。鲜活的人物、凄美的爱情,是一部读不完、说不尽的千古奇书。
Hardcover, 604 pages
Published July 8th 1975 by Praeger (first published 1791)
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Steve Morrison
One of the greatest masterpieces of literature, reading this was an incredible experience. Poignant, funny, metaphysical, tragic, allegorical, psychologically profound, and highly entertaining, it bridges the worlds of heaven and earth, dreams and "reality," and is a truly astonishing achievement. Reading does not get any better than this--it really is up there with Don Quixote, The Divine Comedy, War and Peace, Shakespeare, and anything else you might name. As one Western scholar on the work no...more
Leonard
Like a historical record, the novel vividly portraits forgotten customs as well as enduring intrigues of a wealthy but declining aristocratic family in the Qing dynasty, detailing sumptuous delicacies, colorful cotton-padded jackets, and the luxurious chambers’ wooden stools, chamber pots, woven screens and bedside heaters. To turn the pages of Dream of the Red Chamber is to relive the decaying luxury of a lost time.

Dream of the Red Chamber
A Chinese Brush Painting of an Aristocratic Mansion
Heidi
I have spent 9 years trying to remember what "that Chinese book" was which I read within my first year of college. I cannot remember if I read it for extra credit in my Chinese class, or if one of my professors recommended it as a Chinese classic that I should consider reading. Part of me thinks I began it during the school year, and then part of it the following summer (when I was reading so much I can't remember all that I read). Either way, I finally did some research and this is definitely t...more
Mike
I just re-read this classic of Chinese literature as it's been years since I first read it. The Dream of the Red Chamber/Story of the Stone is unlike any work in the Western canon yet it fits into the Western tradition of great literature in a way few other examples of classic Chinese writing are able to, offering an engrossive narrative and a real feel for both character and place. There are aspects of this novel that may confuse the modern reader of it in English translation: the many titles a...more
Kate
Overall, this book--one of the four Chinese Classic Novels--was a marvelous read, although its intricacy cannot be overstated. Some compare it to Shakespeare, but it's more like a saga with little Shakespearean offshoots every few chapters. The cast of characters is enormous, and the overarching narrative truly does transcend space and time.

My primary complaint about this book--a long, complex, elegant Chinese drama--is that it needs a better guide to the characters. There is a genealogy chart i...more
Zeny May Dy Recidoro
The truth is that if not for my Asian Literatures class, I wouldn't have mustered enough strength (despite interest) to read this novel. And I am particularly drawn to the idea forwarded by some academics that Hong Lou Meng is actually a critique to the reception of the public to fiction (and perhaps to reading in general). Also, it is a counter to the idea that in order to attain enlightenment, one must transcend the everyday world. A monk makes a stone nod. The stone is cast away by the Goddes...more
Grace
Actually, I should not say that I have read this book, while I have not really read the English version of this work. Nevertheless, I think that among the translated versions of this work, the page number of this version looks at least convincing enough.
About this work, there are enough positive reviews given from various perspectives already. One thing that I would like to note here is that it is not simply a love story like Romeo and Juliet. When paying attention to all details that the writer...more
Joannie
I almost always finish every novel I start, but I just couldn't get through this one. I do love classics, but I felt the translation nearly killed the original authenticity: the Chinese classical poetry is butchered and not nearly as poetic when translated. I sense there's a great story to be told, and I think I'll have to ask my mother to read it in Chinese to me so I can fully appreciate this classic work... until then, I remain somewhat unimpressed.
Mel
So about ten years ago I read the English translation of this book by the Yangs. I loved it so much. Written in 1791 and spanning four volumes it was like nothing I'd ever read before. It focused on the lives of women, both elite women and their servants living in Qing China. I decided that I would like to read the original one day. My teacher told me that if I studied I might manage by the time I was 60. Well I managed when I was 41!

I have been reading this since January. I read the dual langua...more
Laszlo Hopp
Jul 21, 2013 Laszlo Hopp rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Laszlo by: Nobody
The copy I read was a downloadable Kindle version. I could not figure out the translator. The total location number was 36403. If I use a recommended page-equivalent converter number of 16.69, the page number comes to a little over 2100, which is close to the printed full version page number.

At first, I couldn’t understand how this book became one of the four pinnacles of classical Chinese literature. – The other three are: The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Outlaws of t...more
Maggie
Arguably THE most important work in traditional Chinese literature. Written in the 1780s and then compiled and edited about 100 years later, this is not a seamless novel, but more like a soap opera of a courtly family's life in decline. This edition is obviously not the entire work, but a good representation of the most famous scenes.

A lot of times you'll see scrolls or paintings with scenes from Dream of the Read Chamber (also known as Story of the Stone) that have 4 or 5 of the most famous sc...more
Robert Sheppard
WHAT EVERY EDUCATED CITIZEN OF THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW IN THE 21ST CENTURY: THE GREAT CLASSICAL NOVELS OF CHINA----"THE DREAM OF RED MANSIONS" BY CAO XUEQIN, "THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST" BY WU CHENGEN, "THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS" by LUO GUANZHONG, "THE WATER MARGIN or ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS" by SHI NAI'AN, "THE SCHOLARS" BY WU JINGZI, AND THE EROTIC CLASSIC "THE JIN PING MEI" OR "GOLDEN LOTUS"---FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS—-ROBERT...more
Karen
I bought and read this book on my Kindle, and unfortunately when I got to the end, it turned out I only had Book I, and that "there are other better and more complete English translations". The novel was "completed" with an additional 40 chapters by another author after Cao Xueqin's death. It definitely ended in the middle of the story, as such, but I will probably not search to read the rest. This story has over 400 characters, 25 of them considered "main" characters, and it is like a tree bran...more
Mistr3ssquickly
I borrowed a copy of this book from a dusty stack of forgotten books in the back closet of the English department in my high school, where it had been discarded by teachers who were tired of students mispronouncing Chinese names and becoming bored by cultural traits unfamiliar to them. For fun, I read it over the summer, and where I did struggle to keep track of which character was which, at first, by the halfway point, I was sucked in completely to the story.

It's a tale with no real beginning a...more
Paul Bard
Well, it's clearly a great work of imaginative genius.

But the complexity of names is also way more baffling than Tolstoy's War and Peace or Grossman's Time and Fate. I wish we had a simple way of transliterating the names distinctly!

Anyway, it was an entertaining read. The poetry was surprisingly good in translation too.

Obvious deserves its classic status, but I do not think I will read the whole thing because of the sheer number and difficulty of the names.

"But your kind of lust is different....more
Ketchup
I hate this book, and I'm Chinese.

Ok, hate is a strong word. I'm repulsed by this book which I viewed as close to godliness in my childhood. I hate 'em little balls of prudishness.

Sorry about this, translator(s), because I think you did a nice job on this book and I'm still giving you two stars. If I rated on your technicality alone I would give you a solid 3 or 4. I do like the English version in some ways better than the Chinese version(s) because it's so much more 'normal' for lack of a bette...more
Enas
رواية ( حلم القصور الحمراء) تعد من أفضل الروايات الكلاسيكية الصينية ، كان مؤلفها هوالكاتب المشهور( تساو- شيويه - تشين) وهى رواية تعطي صورة دقيقة للمجتمع الصيني في تلك الفترة المحصورة بين الأعوام 1644- 1911، حيث الصراعات العنيفة الدامية بين أبناء الأسر الملكية للمطالبة بهذا العرش أو تلك المقاطعة ، الأمر الذي أنعكس بصورة أو بأخرى على عموم المجتمع.

كما تعكس العادات والتقاليد والأخلاق، خاصة احترام كبار السن في العائلة، والمعتقدات والتأثيرات الدينية،وأهمية التعليم والثقافة، وأسرار تلك الفترة، وكيف كان...more
Chaitra
I loved this book, so much like a daytime soap. The translation was great, it read easily. I felt it a bit rushed towards the end when everyone seemed to die in quick succession - the portion that wasn't written by Cao Xueqin. While every single person was realistically portrayed, Precious Virtue alone seemed to be more the personification of her name than a character. Because of this, I preferred Black Jade to her (anyone to her, actually).
Steve
Certainly not as action packed as Romance of the Three Kingdoms or Outlaws of the Marsh, but it totally kept my attention. It was actually a lot like the later couple books in the Dumas' Musketeers series. For large swaths of the book, not much happens beyond aristocratic people accidentally offending each other. Similar in tone too, in that the book is sort of overly respectfully condemning of the whole aristocracy thing.
Carrie
What comedian invented the Chinese Relativity Theorem? "No matter how important you think something is, a billion Chinese people just don't care."
Well,'Dream of the Red Chamber' would pass the Chinese Relativity Test. Wikipedia says it is "a masterpiece of Chinese literature and is generally acknowledged to be the pinnacle of Chinese fiction"...which made my Dad think that he should give it to me for Christmas, and my husband to say, "It's sweet, how optimistic your Dad is about your level of a...more
Philippe Malzieu
After the success of Shi Nai An "Au bord de l'eau", it was the second Chinese novel to enter in the "Pléiade" collection. I was a little surprised. This is more the picaresque novel.It is almost a novel XIX° the rise and fall of the Jia House.
And there are also Romeo and Juliette. The rhythm is slow, one needs to accept it. I had evil to locate me geographically. I visited in China a long time after its reading the house of the merchant Wang who was the decor of "Wives and concubines."
I then un...more
Otto Arkhom

This is one of the classics of Chinese literature. Dream of the Red Chamber or Hong Lou Meng is one of the memorable novels I have read (read the extended Penguin translation which extended several volume). Not only it is a journey into lifestyle of old China in Qin dynasty, it shows wonderful insights into Chinese culture and mindset at the time, as well as the social differences between the privileged and poor.


This is novel is well regarded by the Chinese and its popularity survives until toda...more
Rob Roy
Turgid prose that goes on and on and on and on
Sean Homrig
With its floral, sometimes languid, prose, this 2,500 page novel of the rise and fall of a 17th century Chinese family is not necessarily for everyone, but it's a fascinating story that I was surprised to find myself enjoying.

There's a Shakespearean tragedy here, but for me this was second to the richness of the dialogue and descriptions of Chinese tradition. The author apparently had a high regard for women, as most of the main characters (save for the obviously autobiographical Bayou) are nobl...more
Ensiform
Translated and abridged by Chi-Chen Wang

This is a 330-page adaptation of the 18th century Chinese novel about fate, mysticism, doomed romance and the fortunes of an aristocratic family. It's fascinating reading for its details about Chinese family values, social hierarchy, interfamily relationships and customs. At times, the various titles and honorifics used were confusing; at one point in the text, the author says that a group of related characters who lived together in a garden house themselv...more
Janie
This was a fascinating account of ordinary days for a very elite family in 18th century China. Raised many questions in my mind. I hope to find good discussions here from other readers. I have read an English translation from German. The German translation was done by Franz Kuhn. He said his version is more complete than the earlier Joly translation. I read this version because it was free (or nearly) on my Nook. All the reviews I have read talk about "the first 80 chapters...The last 40 chapter...more
Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Friedrich Kauder
Reading Dream of the Red Chamber was work. It is a complicated book, more so for someone unfamiliar with the language and with only vague knowledge of the historical context of 18th century China. The book is considered one of the most important works of Chinese literature and I suspect reading the original version must be similar in satisfaction to reading Shakespeare's English or Goethe's German. I also suspect its strengths are only partially translated to a different language.

What I was left...more
Jerard Eusebio
Of all the cultures in the world that I am aware of, the Chinese would be in my top 5 most fascinating cultures. I suppose this would seem inevitable, having grown up to movies such as Disney’s Mulan, The Joy Luck Club, and a string of Jackie Chan movies. In literature, though, the case would be quite different.

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, to this day, has been my closest encounter with Chinese Literature. With this in mind, I am compelled to say that I lack knowledge in a more aut...more
Philip Thiel
The scope of Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the Stone is surprisingly slight for a novel in five volumes, deploying length in the service of detail rather than depth. The reader’s eye is held so close to the action that the bridges between the pavilions in the mansion’s garden seem more and more to separate whole worlds rather than lovers and cousins. But this is an illusion.

Why so much close-up? I kept wishing for a wider angle, until seeing that for these people such concerns are life-and-death: if...more
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5029521
Cao Xueqin (Chinese: 曹雪芹; pinyin: Cáo Xuěqín; Wade–Giles: Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in, 1715 or 1724 — 1763 or 1764) was a Qing Dynasty Chinese writer, best known as the author of Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. His given name was Cao Zhan (曹霑) and his courtesy name is Mengruan (夢阮; 梦阮; literally "Dream about Ruan" or "Dream of Ruan")[...]
More about Cao Xueqin...
The Story of the Stone, Vol. 1: The Golden Days The Story of the Stone, Vol. 2: The Crab-Flower Club The Story of the Stone, Vol. 3: The Warning Voice The Story of the Stone, Vol. 5: The Dreamer Wakes The Debt of Tears (The Story of the Stone, #4)

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“... je t'emmènerais dans une contrée resplendissante et prospère, au foyer d'une famille aristocratique des lettrés, fastueux domaine où abondent les fleurs et les saules, terroir de la douceur, de richesse et d'honneurs, pour t'installer dans la joie et en toute sécurité.
Cao Xueqin, "Le Rêve dans le pavillon rouge", trad, fr. par Li Tche-Houa, J. Alézaïs, révision par A. D'Hormon, Paris, Gallimard, "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade", 1981, vol. 1, p. 8.”
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“宝玉只顾如此一想,不料早把些邪魔招入膏肓了。当下随了仙姑进入二层门内,至两边配殿,皆有匾额对联,一时看不尽许多,惟见有几处写的是:“痴情司”、“结怨司”、“朝啼司”、“夜怨司”、“春感司”、“秋悲司”。看了,因向仙姑道:“敢烦仙姑引我到那各司中游玩游玩,不知可使得?”仙姑道:“此各司中皆贮的是普天之下所有的女子过去未来的簿册,尔凡眼尘躯,未便先知的。”宝玉听了,那里肯依,复央之再四。仙姑无奈,说:“也罢,就在此司内略随喜随喜罢了。”宝玉喜不自胜,抬头看这司的匾上,乃是“薄命司”三字,两边对联写的是:“春恨秋悲皆自惹,花容月貌为谁妍。” 0 likes
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