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The Crab-Flower Club (The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber #2)

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4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  380 ratings  ·  25 reviews
"The Story of the Stone" (c. 1760), also known as "The Dream of the Red Chamber", is one of the greatest novels of Chinese literature. The fifth part of Cao Xueqin's magnificent saga, "The Dreamer Awakes", was carefully edited and completed by Gao E some decades later. It continues the story of the changing fortunes of the Jia dynasty, focussing on Bao-yu, now married to B ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published September 29th 1977 by Penguin Group (first published 1760)
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(showing 1-30 of 919)
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Rob
The Story of the Stone is an immensely fun, inviting, and enjoyable novel, but explaining why it is so is a bit of a challenge.

Indeed, any literal-minded summary of its content would make it sound immensely, almost parodically boring, like some sort of hypothetical novel Borges might imagine on a lark. I have now read over 1000 pages of this gigantic novel (the five-volume split is a choice made by the translator, it's really just one big thing), I'm still less than halfway through, and there is
...more
Martin
Reviewers often comment on this volume being completely immersive in the minutiae of the daily rituals of the ladies and their maids. I have completely lost myself in this book in the way that I see others reading “Twilight” or “Fifty Shades of Grey” – I have stopped calling and emailing loved ones, and I have stolen more time than possible at work to read this as an ebook. This volume primarily concerns a gilded year at the Rong-Guo mansion. With the Prospect Garden’s original purpose nullified ...more
Sara
It is rare that I meet a book that rivals my #1 book of all time (War and Peace) but Cao Xueqin's The Dream of the Red Chamber (aka: The Story of the Stone) is it. Volume two picks up at chapter 27, right where the previous volume left off so you don't want to leave too much time between reading each volume. The lush adventures of the Jia family continue to unfold, and though The Crab-Flower Club lacks a lot of the magical components of the first volume, it makes up for it with detailed descript ...more
David
Well, it doesn't move fast, but it does move. This book mainly deepens and develops the material introduced in the first volume, more detailing of what daily life in this rich family is like, with more indications of the fall later to come. There is also a deepening and a complication of the relationships between some of the characters. I found this volume to actually be a little easier to read than the first. There are certainly some marvelous moments, though there were a few sections that drag ...more
Chris
The following review is my review for all five volumes as a whole.

I'm going to put forth an argument that books can be compared to relationships. There are books that are guilty pleasures with no literary value beyond straightforward entertainment, such as potboiler mysteries or the much maligned Harlequin style romance. These are your one-night stands of the book world.

Then there are brief forays readers take out of curiosity or biblio-style peer pressure, such as best-seller lists or perceiv
...more
Laura Stahl
This volume takes us, as the translator points to directly in the preface to the second volume, away from the ethereal realm and into to matters of a more material nature. The details of earthly matters occupy the majority of the pages herein. Endless conversations of garments and repair stitch in hints foreshadowing earthly losses. Yet, another reading is perhaps contradictory to the accepted dichotomy of materiality and otherworldliness. We do not venture off with Taoists to the otherworld, bu ...more
Eadweard
The amount of day to day details and events are incredible. In this volume; an imperial concubine visits the family, a poetry club is founded and death pays a visit.
Marlo
Better than volume 1, which I also quite liked. These have both been very interesting portrayals of aristocratic life in Qing China. So decadent and rigidly hierarchical, and transgressions are met with such ferocity and violence. Feudalism and aristocracy be crazy, yo. At the same time as reading this, I've been listening to a history of the French revolution podcast, and yeah, I totally get why peasants revolt and try to overthrow the system.

At the same time, I just really enjoy reading about
...more
Czarny Pies
Aug 30, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Dim Sung Proust
Shelves: asian-literature
The second volume of Cao Xeuquin's epic story of the Wang-Jia family has for my Western eyes striking resemblance to Proust's Le Côté de Guermantes. All the action takes place in the two conjoined mansions of the Wangs and Jias who live in conjoined estates. Mme Wang and Jia prepare their rival salons with all the care and competitive spirit of Mme. Villeparsis and Mme. Guermante.

The guests even the teenagers are remarkably erudite and extremely clever. Occasionally conversations go a bit awry w
...more
Colin
Jan 13, 2012 Colin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who've read the first volume.
Shelves: five-star
The kids form a poetry-writing club and spend a lot of time eating, drinking, poking fun at one another, occasionally getting sick, and writing lots and lots of poetry. Not as dark, sexy, or fantastical as the first volume, this one at least is more thematically anchored, and with the belabored framing device of the first out of the way, the characters (well, the two that seem to matter the most) are allowed to be themselves instead of merely earthly manifestations of magical beings. The emotion ...more
Meghan Krogh
Sep 09, 2014 Meghan Krogh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Meghan by: Chinese Classics Book Club
So obviously this is another out-of-sequence book for my Chinese Classics Club; we’re slowly making our way through Cao Xueqin’s epic about the Jia clan and their star-crossed lovers trio of Bao-yu, Dai-yu, and Bao-chai.

So while the first volume of Stone introduced us to all of the main players and the basic conceits that will rule their lives, this second installation seemed to zoom in on just how privileged and pampered and luxurious their lives are. This is the golden time for these young peo
...more
Helmut
Band 2 der epischen Familiengeschichte

"Story of the Stone", auch als "Dream of the Red Chamber" bekannt, ist einer, viele Kritikern sagen sogar der wichtigste, der "großen Klassiker" Chinas. Band 2 (von 5) sammelt nun die Kapitel 27 bis 53 und verfolgt weiterhin das Alltagsleben einer mandschurischen aristokratischen Großfamilie. Der Untertitel dieses zweiten Bandes, "The Crab-Flower Club", weist schon darauf hin, wie wenig wirkliche Arbeit diese Menschen zu verrichten haben, und mit welchem Au
...more
Mark
"The Crab-Flower Club" has a lot going on. Poetry contests. Desperate unspoken love between two 14 year old soul-mates (no these are REAL soul-mates since the boy, Bao-yu, is the incarnation of the Stone, the only rejected stone from the vault of heaven and the girl Dai-yu is the incarnation of the heavenly Crimson-Pearl Flower). The 550 page book revolves around three main characters Bao-yu, Dai-yu, and Bao-chi (a girl who drives Dai-yu crazy with envy) set in Prospect Garden over the course of ...more
Connie Kronlokken
The girls who reside in the garden with Bao-yu start a poetry club. They compose poetry effortlessly, but of course referring to countless older poems and using poetic riffs known to all of them.

Cap Xueqin doesn't shy away from violence. Some see Xi-feng as a villain, but she is often kind to those not so well off. Bao-yu complains he can never get away. He is always watched. A claustrophobic existence, but Bao-yu remains himself, kind and aware.
James
In the second volume of Hawkes' five-volume translation of The Story of the Stone, life for the Jia family goes on surrounded by luxury and literature. This volume, though not as fanciful as the first, expertly portrays life for an upper-class Chinese family and their corresponding material culture. Hawkes' translation is adept at bringing this far-removed world closer and once more, the translation is fluent and reads well. As I mentioned in my review for the first volume, I have some issues wi ...more
bridget trinkaus
Apr 21, 2008 bridget trinkaus rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to bridget by: dr. ferrara
Shelves: for-school
there is so much going on in this book. the imagery of the novel is beautiful. there is so much to digest. this deserves another read. we are not reading book 3 and we only have parts of 4 and 5. so i am sure we are missing a lot. even though she is crying all the time i really like dai-yu. i wish bao-chai would not give her so much hell. had i not taken this class (world lit--renaissance to 18th eastern lit) i don't think i would have ever read a chinese novel. i may even read another, perhaps ...more
Gordon
Just as colorful and evocative as volume 1, but on the whole even more ethereal and with less plot. The mystic element has also disappeared, which is particularly disappointing: it gave the first volume a sense of going somewhere, perhaps ironically from a Buddhist point of view! At some point I will give volume 3 a try, however: things are bound to get more interesting as the Jia family's fortunes start to go downhill.
Joanna
Volume 2 is all about the characters. Oh, also poetry, art, architecture, gardening, cooking, family relationships, fashion, makeup, love, kitchen sinks, and just about anything else you can think of. Set in 18th-century China, but universal.
Gary
It takes some skill to make the everyday life and occasional drama of a 350 year-old Chinese aristocratic seem familiar and even generate nostalgia to and in an English white boy born in 1983.
Brian R. Mcdonald
Jun 22, 2010 Brian R. Mcdonald marked it as books-with-go-references
I've been told that this book has references to go. I've only found generic references to board games. I'll have to check other translations to see if there are more specific descriptions.
Pamela607
Liked the earlier volumes better than the later ones. It was hard to read about the family's misfortunes in later volumes, once I came to care about the characters.
Lbj
Fave book of all time. Hopefully within this lifetime I can understand all aspects of this book.
Evita
Evita marked it as to-read
Jul 30, 2015
Colleen
Colleen marked it as to-read
Jul 29, 2015
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber (5 books)
  • The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone #1)
  • The Warning Voice (The Story of the Stone #3)
  • The Debt of Tears (The Story of the Stone, #4)
  • The Dreamer Wakes (The Story of the Stone #5)
The Dream of the Red Chamber The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone #1) The Warning Voice (The Story of the Stone #3) The Dreamer Wakes (The Story of the Stone #5) The Debt of Tears (The Story of the Stone, #4)

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