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The Warning Voice (The Story of the Stone #3)
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The Warning Voice

(The Story of the Stone #3)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  529 ratings  ·  36 reviews
"The Story of the Stone (c. 1760)", also known by the title of "The Dream of the Red Chamber", is the great novel of manners in Chinese literature. Divided into five volumes, of which "The Warning Voice" is the third, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). The two main char ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published January 29th 1981 by Penguin Group (first published January 3rd 1791)
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4.43  · 
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 ·  529 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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I've been taking my time with this volume because I want to savor the story, of course, but also it contains the last chapters written by Cao Xueqin. The last 40 or so chapters, reconstructed from his notes, are of dubious quality, but I'm so invested that I still need to know how the story ends.
After greatly enjoying Volume 2, I found this long middle volume a bit of a slog.

I can't tell how much of this is due to any intrinsic difference (after all, the 5-volume division was made by the translator, not the author) and how much of it is due to the fact that I have a finite, if large, patience for this kind of story. In my review of Vol. 2 I made a big deal out of how formless the plot is -- sometimes dramatic, sometimes very mundane for long stretches, never following predictable "arc"
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china, favorites
Quite a change from the last two volumes. In many ways it feels like it comes off the rails, as more and more time gets spent on digressions and the love triangle that's ostensibly at the heart of the plot fades to nothingness. The poetry also all but disappears and gets replaced by high melodrama and a creeping sense of doom. "The beast with a thousand legs is a long time dying," but by Chapter 80 everyone in the household can see the end. It might seem like so many changes to something already ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Memorable moments from Vol. 3: Grandma Jia gives her speech about how songs aren't realistic because the young girls only have one maid. Xifeng becomes ill and the girls take over. The garden is divided up. 200 pages of mostly maids' stories. The singers are assigned as maids, love affairs, and cross dressing ensues. Baoyu has his birthday party where everyone gets drunk, Zheng dies and the story of Jie Er and Jie San. Interesting to see that it is only after Xifeng's miscarriage that her husban ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is so addictive. I don't want to say goodbye to the characters.

In an ironic twist, I've come to realize that the advice I've been giving to an increasing number of students as the term progresses should be well applied to myself. In other words, physician, heal thyself, in my case meaning reader, modulate so that what is read brings actual joy (crediting Kondo for this one), especially if the work obligations are rising and the for fun reading isn't much a race with the deadline at the end of 2019. As such, I will be taking an extended break before tac
Jan 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Where to start? Volume 2 was as good as it was going to get in terms of consistency, character and plotting. Although Volume 3 often feels like it is falling apart despite the editors’ (Rouge Inkstone, Odd Tablet, translator David Hawkes) best efforts. Still, I continue to rate this five stars and place it on par with earlier volumes. The first reason is for the author’s audacity to introduce a whole slew of new characters midway through the overall story and sidelining major characters such as ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Warning Voice is a good title for this third volume, which starts with a growing sense of foreboding and ends with more and more members of the extended Jia clan in unhappy circumstances. The volume retains some of the comedy, beauty, and elegant circumstances of the prior two, but there’s also a growing frequency of conflict, pettiness, and ugly selfishness.
Andrew Fairweather

Volume three give the reader hints of what must be the downfall to come—it's like milk that "seems fine" even thought the sell-by date has passed. This volume contains a lot of references to how the fortunes of the Jia family are "not what they used to be". The protection of possessions and pawning of goods seem to be a major concern of the characters in this volume, which is a stark contrast to the dreaminess of the first and the poetic fabric of the second. There are, in fact, some v
Connie Kronlokken
Warning voice indeed! This volume is full of discussion of money. The family must pawn things, and they begin to talk of having fewer servants. Bao-yu loses Skybright to innuendo. Xi-feng is horrified to find her husband has taken a secret wife. Chaos and infighting upset everyone, though there are several lovely holiday scenes, such as the mid-Autumn moon-viewing festival, and some poetry writing.

I discuss the book further on my blog, as an example of a thoroughly un-Western paradigm:

Zachary Littrell
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing

'Thank the Lord for that!' said Bao-yu fervently. 'If only she could shake it off altogether!'

Nightingale looked up at him with amusement:
'It's not often we hear you calling on the Lord.'

Bao-yu returned her smile:
'Any doctor will do in an emergency.'

Man oh man, this is one bittersweet book, folks. It's the sunset of an era for the Jia family, and everyone and their dog knows it. Dai-yu, Bao-yu, Xi-feng, and nearly half of the characters are either sick or depressed. Anything not nailed down is
Mary-Jean Harris
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, historical
Yet another excellent book in the Story of the Stone series! It was long, but definitely worth it. The part with Jia Lian and Xi Feng trying to sabotage each other was the best, as well as the poetry parts, though I can understand how some people wouldn't enjoy that. The feel of this book was similar to the previous one, though we can definitely see a decline in the management and order of the family that was only seeding previously. I wouldn't say that there was one overarching climax or even c ...more
David Gialouras
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I started reading volume 3 before I'd finished volume 2 as I'd forgotten to pack it on my trip to Belgium last month. The Story of the Stone is an easy enough read but there's a lot of it. 845,000 words. It's endlessly fascinating. I first became aware of its existence in the 00s when I was collecting Penguin Classics. There's a lot in it. I've fallen in love with Bao-yu. I find Xi-feng interesting for her intelligence and resourcefulness, in spite of her cruelty to Er-jie for example. It's simi ...more
Adelaide Mcginnity
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rowan Sully Sully
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best volume so far. You'll get to know more of the lesser characters and some of the side characters become all-important such as Tan-Chun who takes over from Xi-Feng whilst she's ill.

How household managed?
Financial situation = not good - Pawn shops
Power struggle in house
Bullying amongst staff
Side story of San Jie and Er Jie with Jia Lian
Paulo Santos
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Reaching the third volume of The Story of the Stone, one feels like one's meeting old acquaintances; and what fabulous characters they are - Bao-yu, Xi-feng, Grandmother Jia, Jia Lian, Tan Chun, and so many others. The fortunes and misfortunes of this aristocratic 18th century Chinese family make for a remarkable period piece, one goes from feeling annoyed by so much silliness and petty problems (the kind that today would be called First World problems), understanding how the French revolutionar ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-picks
The sky darkens, but nobody looks up.
Czarny Pies
Jul 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who has seen Raise the Red Lantern
Recommended to Czarny by: Those who established the Chinese Canon of Four Classic Novels
Shelves: asian-literature
Contrary to the modern view that the duty of literature is be literary, I always hope that literature will be educational. In this regard the Story of the Stone which is one of the so-called "Four Chinese Classics" is paying off in Spades.

Volume Three helped throw considerable light on my childhood experiences as a coin collector. I recall entering a coin shop at nine years of age with my father as an escort. In a bin, I came across at tattered paper bill with Chinese characters, a sour looking
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A vivid and earthy new translation of what used to be called The Dream of the Red Chamber, this story of the piece-of-jade-become-charmed-human is full of the ways of Chinese aristocrats from the glory days of the Chinese Qing dynasty. You may have a hard time keeping the characters straight, but don't that stop you from enjoying the ins and outs of the men and women of a Chinese court with too much time on its hands and many, many rituals to observe.

This book is generally considered the first
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
It appears that the fall of this family is as thoroughly detailed as the harmony and opulence of this family was. There was so much harmony in the previous books. There was heartache and some manipulation, but it was good-hearted and childish in general. Bad things happen much more often and with much more venom in this volume, and it is getting worse. Suddenly, we begin to hear frequent mentions of expenditures exceeding incomes. Pawning becomes frequent. Infighting becomes common and there is ...more
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: china-and-japan
I must say that I was very glum when I came to the last chapter of "The Warning Voice" mostly because this novel is now incomplete. The last 40 chapters of Story of the Stone are lost to history, some say destroyed by the author's own family for being seditious. Other scholars think that the Qianlong Emperor had the last portion of the novel suppressed. It is generally known from foreshadowing in the beginning of the novel (i.e. a vivid dream that Bao-yu has in a married woman's bedroom or a Red ...more
Volume 3 of the Story of the Stone continues the saga of the Jia family. In this volume readers see signs of what may signal an upcoming decline in the family's fortunes. Money difficulties are hinted at but not taken seriously by most in the family. Volume three highlights the cracks in the surface of the family by taking us inside their domestic lives.

I enjoyed this volume more than the previous one which for me was too filled with poetry (which either didn't translate well or I didn't enjoy).
Laura Stahl
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The episodes in this volume revolve around the idea of propriety and violation or transgression of the social order. When the characters face the conflict between fulfilling their desires and upholding Confucian norms, they face punishment. The warning voice, as the added subtitle to the translation indicates, is heard drifting over from the ancestral temple. Punishment for transgressions often takes the form of illness and death. The characters desires paradoxically bind them to the material wo ...more
Another fine instalment by David Hawkes, the third volume of Story of the Stone continues the saga of the Jia family, their day-to-day lives and the growing relationship between Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu. As Hawkes admits, the third volume does start to show inconsistencies in plot and characters but the translator admirably resolves these issues. Overall, it is an excellent translation (though as I have mentioned, there are issues with the poetry) and Hawkes has shown his skills in making one of ...more
Apr 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is the last volume that's fully the work of Cao Xueqin, and the editorial seams are showing, particularly in the awkward interpolation of some side stories, which lessen the tale's impact for modern readers. The Jia fortunes are on a downward swing, occasioning much internal maneuvering in the household, and this segment ends on a gloomy note of lost innocence. I am both reluctant and eager to embark on vol. 4.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
My reading of this saga has slowed somewhat, due to being really busy, but I'm still making my way through, and I still get immersed when I am reading it. Two more volumes to go. This was the longest of the five. I think volume two is my favourite so far, followed by this one, and then the first volume.
May 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The best of the series so far. Gripping and astonishing all the way through, despite the clumsiness that has started to appear in the character continuity and style. I am so, so sad that this is really the last of the Story of the Stone. I don't know how I feel about continuing with books 4 and 5.
Book Wormy
This volume seems to herald the beginning of the end, petty jealousies and machinations combine to destroy several lives and it looks like the families money problems are becoming serious. There is also a return of magical realism with visits from ghosts and the Taoist monk.
Jackson Cyril
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Penguin has released the great 18th century Chinese novel "Story of the Stone" in five volumes, but this volume contains the last chapters written by the original writer, Cao Xueqin; the remaining sections were finished by Gao Er, and I can't wait to start reading those next two volumes.
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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")[...]

Other books in the series

The Story of the Stone (5 books)
  • The Golden Days (The Story of the Stone #1)
  • The Crab-Flower Club (The Story of the Stone #2)
  • The Debt of Tears (The Story of the Stone #4)
  • The Dreamer Wakes (The Story of the Stone #5)
“Any doctor will do in an emergency.” 2 likes
“If with the water’s rosy hue comparison be made,
Carmine tears and dewy flowers seem of the self-same shade.
Yet lady’s tears and flowers in this unalike I find,
That the flowers are still and smiling, but the tears flow unallayed.
As she gazes on the smiling flowers, her tears at last grow dry;
But as they dry, the springtime ends and the flowers fade. The flowers fade, and an equal blight the lady’s fair cheek palls.
The petals drift; she is weary; and soon the darkness falls.
A nightingale is singing a dirge for the death of spring,
And moonlight steals through the casement and dapples the silent walls.”
More quotes…