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Dream of the Red Chamber Hardcover – Jun 1958

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Amazon.com: 27 reviews
117 of 120 people found the following review helpful
Do yourself a favor - 25 Oct. 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although this translation is concise and contained in one volume, the Penguin Books publication of this work (in that version, titled first as "Story of the Stone") is an infinitely better translation - the poetry is kept intact and the story is in full, instead of condensed for speed. In addition, the maids - who frequently outnumber the mistresses and masters in the plot line - are introduced to the reader with names in English, which makes the story a little easier to follow.
If you really like this story and have not read the unabridged version, please do yourself a favor and find the Penguin publications. I love this novel, but there are better translations.
63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful novel 9 Jun. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The 18th century novel, Hongloumeng, remains the greatest Chinese novel ever written, unsurpassed in its depiction of individuals and families, human striving, and stellar literary values. It may be read on many levels, as a love story or social history, as a philosophical musing on the futility of human existence, and a repository of Chinese artistic and literary values. The translation under review is a sharply abridged version that advances the plot line by eliminating many of the minor characters, most of the poetry, and a great deal of the detailed descriptions of daily life in an upper class Chinese family. Those seeking a full appreciation of the novel, especially its literary value, should turn to the full translation, which goes by the title Story of the Stone. However, the full complete translation is a multivalued piece, almost 2,000 pages in length. What you get with this translation is a good feel for the main characters, especially the love triangle, and for the social dynamics within the family. The result in a lovely read that will inspire you to compare this abridge version with a fuller version to see what you missed. I still use this translation in my history courses, but I use it for social history. My colleagues in literature prefer to use volume 1 of the Story of the Stone for their classes.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
18th-century book:one of the world's greatest novels. 5 Jun. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dream of the Red Chamber, by Cao Xueqin, is my favorite book of all time, and without question one of the world's great novels. In China, it has much of the status of Shakespeare's plays. It is not for everybody; it has hundreds of characters, and most of them are teenage girls. It describes the life of a vastly rich and huge Chinese family in the early 1700s. The young cousins, mostly between 13 and 15, spend their lives in an enormous, beautiful garden, each with their own house; the girls paint, have poetry contests, and play games, the boys have to go to school occasionally. Their servants, the same age, have all kinds of amorous and business intrigues going on. Beyond is the background of a fabulously wealthy household run by a strongminded, beautiful, exacting young woman named Phoenix. The men of the house, who can't be bothered with the practical details Phoenix handles, are scholars, ne'er-do-wells, and government officials. When Cao Xueqin wrote this book, in a hovel in Beijing, he was describing his own fairy-tale youth, and his family's sudden and utter ruin. The detail, the vivid conversations, the personalities make everything so real that you forget that these people lived in a faraway country almost two hundred years ago.
The Chinese names are hard to keep straight (like the Russian names in War and Peace); I suggest reading an abridged version with the names translated into English, so that the heroine becomes Black Jade instead of Daiyu. If you don't like the abridged version, don't bother with the long one. But if you do like the abridged version, you have a great pleasure in store for you when you read the original. I suggest David Hawkes' English version.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
A very drastic abridgement of an already-abridged translatio 26 July 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Chi-Chen Wang published an abridged translation of "Dream of the Red Chamber" (also known as "A Dream of Red Mansions" and "The Story of the Stone") in 1929; in 1958 he extensively expanded and revised his translation, to about 550 pages in length. This is only a fraction of the Chinese text, which runs more than three times this length. The next year, Anchor (a subsidiary of Doubleday, which is now owned by Bantam) published this translation in paperback -- but had abridged it, to less than 300 pages! It's a very skillful translation, but a more drastic abridgement than the publisher acknowleges.
I would look at the Penguin edition (translated as "The Story of the Stone," in five volumes) or the edition published by the Chinese Government (translated as "A Dream of Red Mansions," in three volumes) rather than this one.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
It's not about Romeo and Juliet 26 Mar. 2005
By Faye Wang - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's sad to know that most western readers regard this novel as a Chinese Romeo and Juliet story. This over-simplified conclusion misleads people and kills the greatness of the book. A most fascinating and complicated story about almost everything in life from the uglist to the most beautiful, unfortunately is mistaken as "two girls competing for a boy".

The wisdom in the book is so vast that even if I've been reading the book since I was a teenager, each time the book entertains and educates me in new ways. I know that I won't be able to completely understand the book in my entire life time. Let's just say that no matter where you are from, how much you know about China, the book has something for everyone.
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