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A Dream of Red Mansions

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A Dream of Red Mansions, or Chronicles of the Stone, is the greatest masterpiece of Chinese classical novels of the Ming and Qing dynasties with the most profound influence on later generations. The work is comprised of 120 chapters, the first 80 of which were written by Tsao Hsueh-chin and the remaining 40 by Kao Hgo.

Tsao Hsueh-chin, the author of A Dream of Red Mansions, lived between 1715 and 1763. His ancestral family once held great power. As such, he led a wealthy noble life in Nanjing as a child. When he was 13 or 14, the family was declining and moved to Beijing, where life took a turn for the worse. In his later years, he even led a poor life. Drawing on his own experience, Tsao Hsueh-chin put all his life experiences, poeticized feelings, exploratory spirit and creativity into the greatest work of all time - A Dream of Red Mansions. Drawing its materials from real life, the novel is full of the author's personal feelings filled with blood and tears.

A Dream of Red Mansions is a novel with great cultural richness. It depicts a multi-layered yet inter-fusing tragic human world through the eye of a talentless stone the Goddess used for sky mending. Jia Baoyu, the incarnation of the stone, witnessed the tragic lives of "the Twelve Beauties of Nanjing", experienced the great changes from flourishing to decline of a noble family and thus gained unique perception of life and the mortal world. Revolving around Jia Baoyu and focusing on the tragic love between Jia Baoyu and Lin Daiyu and Xue Baochai against the backdrop of the Great View Garden, the novel portrays a tragedy in which love, youth and life are ruined as well as exposes and profoundly reflects the root of the tragedy - the feudal system and culture.

The great literature success of A Dream of Red Mansions is remarkably reflected by the creation of characters with distinctive personality and profound social culture, mirroring people in real life. The success also lies in the breakthrough and innovation of traditional writing styles, completely breaking the mode of story-telling popular novels and greatly enriching the narrative art of novels, thus causing a far-reaching impact on the development of Chinese novels.

The influence of A Dream of Red Mansions in the history of Chinese literature is so profound that it has spawned a large batch of works after its style. At the same time, numerous plays and dramas based on the novel have been released. In recent years, movies and TV series have brought the great work to tens of thousands of households, sweeping the whole Chinese-speaking world.

The exceptionally superb creation of artistic characters and the richness of the thoughts in the novel of A Dream of Red Mansions have generated great interest in its reviews and research, forming a special subject dedicated solely to the research of the novel - Redology (the study on the novel A Dream of Red Mansions).




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