The dream of the red chambers : Hong lou meng, written by Cao Xueqin (Hsueh-Ch'in) c.1719-c.1763

Nam Fung CHANG, Laurence WONG

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Few facts are known about the life of Cao Xueqin. His family had been rich but lost its wealth, and Cao was poor when towards the end of his life he wrote his famous novel. Generally believed to be an autobiography of Cao, and threaded with the tragic love story of Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu, the 120-chapter novel depicts the prosperity and decline of an aristocratic clan in the early years of the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty (1644-1911). It was regarded as an "obscene book" when it first appeared in the 19th century, but soon gained wide recognition as a great naturalistic love story - indeed, at times, as the Chinese novel. While remaining secure in its canonized position, it was interpreted in the Maoist era as a love story in appearance but an anti-feudalist politico-historical novel in essence.
The first 80 chapters of the work are by Cao Xueqin; it is believed that the last 40 were written wholly or partly by others.

Hawkes, David and John Minford, The Story of the Stone: A Chinese Novel, 5 vols, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973-86; Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1979-87 (vols 1-3 translated by Hawkes; vols 4-5 translated by Minford)

Joly, H. Bencraft, Hung lou meng: or, The Dream of the Red Chamber: A Chinese Novel, 2 vols, Hong Kong: Kelly and Walsh, 1892-93.

Wang, Chi-chen, The Dream of the Red Chamber, New York: Twayne, 1985; London: Vision Press, 1959 (first published in abridged form, New York: Doran, 1929)

Yang, Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, A Dream of Red Mansions, 3 vols, Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1978-80.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of literary translation into English
EditorsOlive CLASSE
Place of PublicationUnited States
PublisherFitzroy Dearborn
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)9781884964367
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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