The Dream of Red Chamber (also known as The Story of Stone) is generally considered one of four of China’s greatest classical novels. The novel has had several versions and translations and was made into a TV series in China. See Preview of TV series
The author, Tsao Hsueh-chin (1715-1763) came from a powerful and wealthy family and lived a privileged life as a child in Nanjing. Later, he became poor and struggled to survive. Going from wealth to poverty provided him with the necessary experiences to write this tragic story.
Although this novel has great literary merit on many levels, there is difficulty keeping the characters straight—there are more than four hundred characters and almost thirty are major. The plot, like most Chinese novels, meanders and doesn’t always flow in the same direction.
None-the-less, readers and students of Chinese history/culture should read this book to develop a better understanding of Imperial China during the Ch’ing Dynasty. The novel paints a vivid portrait of a corrupt feudal society on the verge of the capitalist, market economy we see flourishing in China today.
Another plot is the Romeo and Juliet love story between Chia Pao-yu and Lin Tai-yu, who—like Romeo and Juliet—wanted to be free to marry anyone they desired.
To learn more about China, see About Lin YuTang’s My Country and My People
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.