The Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the "Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature." It is renowned for its huge scope, large cast of characters and telling observations on the life and social structures of 18th century China and is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the classical Chinese novel.
The "Red Chamber" is an expression used to describe the sheltered area where the daughters of wealthy Chinese families lived. Believed to be based on the author's own life and intended as a memorial to the women that he knew in his youth, The Dream of the Red Chamber is a multilayered story that offers up key insights into Chinese culture.
"Henry Bencraft Joly's attention to detail and the faithfulness in his translation of Hong Lou Meng makes this revised edition of The Dream of the Red Chamber an excellent book for the student of modern Chinese." — Edwin H. Lowe, from his introduction
"…this partial version certainly deserves a wider readership, as a brave early skirmish on the outer ramparts of this masterpiece. The re-issuing of Joly's work will undoubtedly provide a rich crop of fascinating raw material for the growing community of Translation Studies scholars." — John Minford, from his foreword
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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. The Dream of the Red Chamber, which he devoted ten years of his life to writing, was not published until thirty years after his death.
H. Bencraft Joly was Vice-Consulate of Macao at the time he translated The Dream of the Red Chamber in an effort to advance appreciation of Chinese literature among Western scholars.
John Minford is dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University of Hong Kong and has taught Chinese literature and literary translation in China, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. He has published widely on Chinese literature and translated numerous works including Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio by Pu Songling and the Art of War.
Edwin Lowe is Associate Lecturer of Chinese Studies in the Department of Asian Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney. He has previously worked on the Tuttle Classic edition of The Water Margin and on The Chinese Martial Code by A. L. Sadler.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First this is not the complete novel. The translator published about half the work, but unfortunately passed away. However I have greater issues with this 19th century translation. The work is fairly esoteric and the translating conventions of the 19th century just don't work for me. Not the least of which is the 'mildly erotic' (from the intro) is obscured. For someone who is more knowledgeable in this field this work might be of interest. I should have done more research as I can tell even with this version that it is a fascinating work. I will start with the first of the 5 volume Penguin modern translation . Anybody want a slightly used book?
Can someone in the know check the sample of this? It seems like a high school student translated some passages but that may be unavoidable given the translator needing to convey certain feelings expressed in the original text.