Beard Necessities (Winston Brothers, #7) writing

[ download pdf ] 紅樓夢Author Cao Xueqin –

The Story Of The Stone C Is One Of The Greatest Novels Of Chinese Literature The First Part Of The Story, The Golden Days, Begins The Tale Of Bao Yu, A Gentle Young Boy Who Prefers Girls To Confucian Studies, And His Two Cousins Bao Chai, His Parents Choice Of A Wife For Him, And The Ethereal Beauty Dai Yu Through The Changing Fortunes Of The Jia Family, This Rich, Magical Work Sets Worldly Events Love Affairs, Sibling Rivalries, Political Intrigues, Even Murder Within The Context Of The Buddhist Understanding That Earthly Existence Is An Illusion And Karma Determines The Shape Of Our Lives

10 thoughts on “紅樓夢

  1. says:

    Filled with favours bathed in blessings If you would have asked me a couple of weeks ago what I think a time machine looks like, I would have described a greyish blue metallic construction with a little blinking light for every button and a button for every wire that sparks within the machine s smooth frame Maybe little bleeps and sounds too, and definitely a smoke generator because no time travel is complete without that puff of smoke signifying take off to another time Teams of scientists would be peering over this equipment armed with notes and calculations, trying to make sense of the complicated affair If you ask me what a time machine looks like now, I ll give you a little smirk and tell you there s no need for wires, DeLoreans or electricity and definitely no use for a smoke generator All you need is ink and paper and a well written story of another time and place This particular contraption brought me to 18th century China An enriching, illuminating and profoundly moving trip I ll never forget and look forward to continuing later on.When faced with a work of an epic magnitude this book of than 500 pages is merely the first part of five and is left without any kind of conclusion , when confronted with a story that made a journey through time and space in order to find itself from the desk of a Chinese nobleman with a lot of spare time, a man bestowed with the affection of the Imperial Master himself, all the way to the hands of a policy adviser on international environmental affairs in Brussels a couple of centuries later, I can t help but feel that I m in no position to grant this piece of magic something as mundane as a rating I feel so small next to it It s like reviewing the Great Wall of China on an architectural website Of course I m going to give it five stars, but that s not telling the whole story.The five stars don t mean I ve always thoroughly enjoyed this book, regardless of the awe I feel for it People who have followed my updates on this book may remember a garden There is an entire chapter devoted to its description of around thirty pages, but even later on in the book the author couldn t stop himself from occasionally losing himself again in the midst of its abundance of flowers, rivers and shrubs I m no horticulturist so maybe that s why most of it went over my head but I can t imagine there being a whole lot of horticulturists here so that s not really the point It s just an example of what this book does it s very description heavy when it comes to the surroundings people find themselves in If a room has curtains, the embroidery that s on them will be explained in detail, cultural significance and all And let me tell you the Rong Guo Mansions have lots of rooms, kangs and curtains to describe This makes this story a bit heavy for the casual reader but immensely valuable for those who want to know as much as possible about the time and place these characters and the author lived in This shouldn t be read as a criticism towards the book but as a heads up to casual readers who prefer plot over setting Like I said this is a time machine and the descriptions are the wiring that make it all work Don t worry though, lights will start blinking soon and there will be plenty of buttons for you to push There are a lot of characters in this book A LOT There are helpful family trees in the back for easy reference and a character index that s even complete, covering all the family, extended family, maids and servants and servants cousins and distant friends In the beginning it takes a bit of getting used to, also because the names sound very similar in some instances, especially to a Western reader s ear Jia Lan, Jia Lian, Yuan chun, Ying chun and Tan chun, Aunt Zhao and Aunt Zhou, Mister Xeng and Cousin Zheng and Jia Zheng, all of that times twenty Sometimes one character is referred to with two or three different names,so that when you re following the peregrinations of Wang Xi feng you shouldn t be surprised at Ms Lian suddenly popping up, because they re both the same person This may seem daunting at first but believe me you ll be quite alright Some people get introduced into the story only to die a sentence later, others return enough or get a chapter devoted to them to give you ample time to familiarize yourself with them Jia Lian becomes the sex addict and Jia Lan an adorable little child and soon you no longer see the names but the rich characters they refer to Though there are many characters getting a lot of attention, it s safe to say that Bao yu is the main one It is believed he is based on Cao Xueqin, this book s author, making this a semi autobioghraphical book The Story of the Stone follows his movements within the compounds of two wealthy families and shows the everyday life of the elite and their servants Bao yu is a bit different from the others He spends most of his time with the females, resulting in this story talking mostly about their lives, while the uncles and fathers are busy with their business, conducted outside of this story s area Bao yu is very intense in his friendly relations and often very sexual Little Chinese school children lose all their innocence with the description of a fight in the classroom and its causes On top of this sometimes raw realism, there is also a big touch of magic in this tale This boy was born with a special jade in his mouth, a stone that contains mystical powers The story starts with the backstory of this Stone, which is at once the narrator and the protagonist of this tale, because all signs point to Bao yu being the human incarnation of this godly Stone There is witchcraft and mystery, but it s introduced in a very subtle way and rarely the overpowering element There is an early chapter describing one of Bao yu s dreams, filled with riddles, poems and songs foreshadowing what is to come, meriting years of study and speculation and raising the appetite enough to make you want to devour this book, all five parts of it There are tales of early love, of death, of Imperial visits, of funerals and doctor s visits, of a boy s first wet dream and of a whole lot of etiquette The importance of formalities is brought home really well here and sometimes in a most touching way There is something moving about the deference shown to those higher and lower in the all important hierarchy, wherein sincere warmth still has its place But there is also viciousness in some characters who seemed angelic before and the result is a rich tapestry, not of caricatures, but of people that truly come alive This first volume is also referred to as The Golden Days and it shows these rich families at the peak of their success, but what is most powerful is the melancholy of a loss that is yet to come pervading the text It makes you nostalgic about the present that is described and makes one appreciate it all the Or as the author himself puts it The flower s aroma breathes of hotter days. A final word goes out to the translator, David Hawkes, who did a truly astounding job here, making an ancient text in a foreign language perfectly readable to the modern English reader without losing any of its authenticity There is a lot of poetry that can t have been easy to translate, but pretty much each and every poem and there are many carry a great force and beauty in them Those who know me know I m not big on poetry, but this book here opened my eyes in that regard There are contests on how to poetically describe everyday objects in the form of riddles and the poems show a richness of thinking, a uniqueness of perspective in looking at the world that I want to cultivate within myself as a direct result of this book Sometimes the air while reading this book gets very thick with all that poetry, making me feel like I was in a jungle with hot humid air that was never intended for breathing The flowers sweetening the air with their scents were nonetheless beautiful, even though I m the kind of guy who prefers a single flower over a whole bouquet This book comes with an introduction by this translator whose passion for this work shines through every word, an introduction that is a story about the story, on how The Story of the Stone came to be and how it found its way into David Hawkes hands It s just as interesting as the book itself and I highly advise reading it As a person who tends to skip introductions or only reads them halfheartedly afterwards, I felt I had to add this advice I will definitely read further into this series, though I need a little break It s very intense This is said to be one of the most important novels in Chinese history and I don t want to miss out on the rest of it You shouldn t, either The dust covering up this little universe of days gone by will be blown away, and so will you.

  2. says:

    Artist Sun Wen 1814 1904 At the far south east endPavilions nestled in artificial mountains.On the near north west sideVerandas brooded on circumjacent waters.Music of little organs playing in the summer houseIncreased the melancholy in the air. Poetry, David Hawkes translationThe Dream of the Red Chamber or the Story of the Stone is one of the greatest products of world literature and almost entirely unknown in the West In its native China, it is an institution Since its printed publication in 1792, the book has sold in the hundreds of millions of copies It has spawned at least two TV series, an interpretive dance performance, one black and white film, a computer game and at least six operas This is only from a glance at Chinese Wikipedia there s certainly What is it At its center, this is a story of 18th century aristocratic China A young man, Jia Baoyu, is sent to live with his relatives in the Rongguo palace complex in Beijing A crux of the story is his relationship with his two female cousins, Lin Daiyu a melancholic poet, and the prudent and graceful Xue Baochai But this is only one thread woven into a broader network of families Four family trees describing most of the main characters.The four families described here make up an entire world Their lives, their relatives, their chains of influence and command dominate the background of this novel It is a world which is only partly familiar to us partly because of the expected ties between parents and children, ties between siblings but only that much due to the wholly different social customs of the time This novel fully represents a moment of history The detail is almost overwhelming Take the family and their maids For a family of barely a dozen aristocrats, their domestic staff number in the hundreds Even some of the maids have their own maids They attend to every function, from cooking to gardening and even music Some maids just hold spittoons and others have a higher social status than some family members themselves That brings us to another topic the structure of Chinese feudalism and the aristocracy At first glance, this is a world of wealth and leisure It is also a world of structure, with defined hierarchies, forms of address, clothing, accepted behaviors, bows, hair pieces, poetry, utensils, tea, gifts, social demands, religious rituals It is a system which at first appears free from the basic gnawing demands of hunger and labor and daily monotony But it is a beautiful illusion, a temporary image, almost like the flower petals which Daiyu buries and mourns The system is top heavy and nearing economic collapse One must absolutely not give offense to anyone else above you in the system Yet within the strict limitations of this system, the characters have their distinct personalities It s not enough to have dozens of major characters, but also to have their motivations and personalities complex and changing moral complexity Take Wang Xifeng, a noblewoman with comparatively little education who has risen to run the household s finances and daily affairs She is capable of great finesse and diplomacy yet also terrible spite view spoiler When she finds out that her husband is cheating on her, we are first inclined to sympathy until she drives the other woman to suicide hide spoiler

  3. says:

    All these different lines and verses combined into a single overpowering impression, riving her soul with a pang of such keen anguish that the tears started from her eyes.The first volume of Cao Xuequin s The Story of the Stone is appropriately titled The Golden Days, one thinks of robust innocence While on one level the novel is the story of an affluent family in the Manchu China of the 18th Century, on another it is a philosophical examination into both the personal existential as well as those issues of cultural heritage Questions of social justice hover about There are many allusions cast in the first novel that the family in question is on the verge of ruin This doesn t diminish their present spending That said, the supernatural asserts its primacy despite the two main characters Bao yu and Dai yu may have been the Edward and Bella of their particular time, an editorial note alludes to the heated arguments and violence which arose debating the merits of the characters in courtly circles The subconscious reigns here in this world or tradition and lavish expenditure Hexes and lustful fairies follow the protagonists back into the waking world All the while the focus remains with the pair of teens adjusting to the breaking dawn of adult expectations sorry for that.

  4. says:

    This book was unlike anything I have read before and I loved it It starts with the story of goddess Nu wa repairing the heavens with various stones, and there is one that is left unused and so it tossed down to earth This stone can speak, write poetry, turns itself into jade, and places itself in the mouth of the baby Bao yu who is born into the prestigious Wang family of the Jia clan This novel covers the comings and goings of the Wang, Ning guo, and Rong guo houses of the Jia clan and most of the story takes place within the clan compound when Jia Bao yu is between the ages of 11 and 13 Some of the most fascinating things about this book were the insider info it provided into the lives of Chinese upper class citizens those literally one or two steps below the emperor I ve read a lot of novels about western aristocrats of the same time period 1700s and drawing comparisons between the rich of the east and the rich of the west was entirely too much fun Chinese aristocrats had far servants, slaves etc, but the biggest difference was the way in which they were treated Concubines who bore sons were elevated to the status of second, third etc wives and should the sons of the first wife not make it to adulthood, those of the concubines could inherit and rule the families Servants and slaves were not just there to provide labor as in the west but they participated actively in family affairs, shared meals, spent hours reciting poetry to each other, making up riddles, throwing parties, practicing calligraphy, staging plays, and playing various games to pass the time Because of the importance of the help, this provided one of the richest casts of characters that I ve seen since Tolstoy s War and Peace, but it also meant that since this was my first foray into Chinese literature the names of the over 200 characters in this book took a lot of getting used to for instance Jia Cheng, Jia Cong, Jia Dai ru, Jia Huan, Jia Jing, Jia Jun, Jia Lan, Jia Lian and so on and so forth for at least 40 Jias, and then come the Fengs, the Qins, the Rongs, the Wangs, and the Zhous It is well worth the time spent flipping back to the list of characters provided in the appendix and the family trees until you know them well enough, otherwise I imagine this book being too confusing to read The best part of the story occurred around page 130 when Bao yu is visited, while dreaming, by the Fairy of Disenchantment and is allowed to look into the registers at the Department of the Ill Fated Fair, where he reads riddles that forecast the fate of each of the female members of his household I thoroughly enjoyed spending the rest of the novel trying to figure out who might have been meant by each riddle for example When power is lost, rank matters not a jot when families fall, kinship must not be forgot Through a chance kindness to a country wife, deliverance came for your afflicted life Honestly, this book has it all Sex, lies, murder, revenge, love, fortune, lost identities, family drama, kidnappings, fate, everything you could want from what is called in China the most popular book ever written And this was just volume one I can t wait to read the other five and see what is in store for these hilarious, lovable, and devious characters especially the meddling Grandmother Jia who continually enjoys too much rice wine and likes to get her grandchildren as drunk as she is in order for them to spill their secrets

  5. says:

    Jing qing, old fellow It s me it s Bao yu he called him several times, but Qin Zhong formal name for Jing qing seemed unaware of his presence Again he called It s Bao yu In point of fact Qin Zhong s soul had already left his body and the few faint gasps of breath in his failing lungs were the only life that now remained in it The ministers of the underworld, armed with a warrant and chains to bind him with, were at that very moment confronting him but his soul was refusing to go quietly Remembering that he left no one behind him to look after his family s affairsBut the infernal visitants had no ear for his entreaties and silenced him with an angry rebukeQin Zhong finally hears Bao yu and begs the spirits to allow him just a moment back in the living world with his friend the spirits learn the friend is Bao yu, full of mischief and vibrancy, and who, to boot, is a descendant of the Duke of Rong guo What screamed the officer in charge of the party in great alarm He turned angrily on his demon minions I told you we ought to let him go back for a bit, but you wouldn t listen Now look what s happened He s gone and called up a person full of life and health to come here right in our midst This is terrible This isn t a typical quote from Stone, but one that reminds the reader of the mythological mystical foundation for the embedded story with no particular dynasty or events to ground it in time It s also just fun, which is a critical element of the novel Woven throughout is the continuing conflict between the lively teenager Bao yu and his Confucian father, Jia Zheng.Since this is only the first of five volumes, I m going to comment on a few things that struck me, and mention a couple of strategies I m using to survive a 2500 page novel with hundreds of characters set hundreds of years ago in a foreign culture.Since I m also working intermittently on The Plum in the Golden Vase, the Stone s similarity to that well to do family saga is immediately at hand One important difference is that the wealth in Plum is from trade, while the Jias in Stone are hereditary nobility, but in both the focus on the novel is on life inside the compound, and on the women of the extended family In both a self indulgent man whiles away his days with these women, creating and surviving the petty jealousies this attitude creates Yet, at least so far, Bao yu s escapades in Stone are meant to be relatively innocent.The other common thread that is so different from western novels is the active role played by the servants in the houses Rarely is one conscious of a servant in European novels, especially serious ones Sam Weller and Sancho Panza are conspicuous in their uniqueness But here, the sexual roles of both male and female servants, and their actions in advancing the plots, are quite visible This was true of Plum as well.Strategy The Hawkes translation Penguin includes an excellent introduction to the history of the text, and brief family trees of three familes in the back But after 100 pages I was totally awash in the names and relationships So I went back and reread, while drawing my own version of the family trees with notations about character and age I salso drew the two family compounds at a very rough level to understand how a woman had to get a palanquin, go out an interior gate, an exterior gate, be carried hauled 300 feet to the neighboring compound of her cousin, and go in through two gates and gardens, galleries and halls to see said cousin or brother This helped immensely to get the major characters fixed in my mind I didn t do enough of it one should also note which maid belongs to which family member, and which part of the garden which cousin is later assigned to.I also located a book which I recommend to anyone attempting this Approaches to Teaching The Story of the Stone Dream of the Red Chamber edited by Andrew Schonebaum and Tina Lu, is very promising I ve just finished the first 33 pages, which help immensely with understanding the naming conventions and the literal meaning of the characters names, as well as the temporal and physical setting Main lesson be content with ambiguity Very helpful names carry a lot of meaning For example, Bao yu s name connotes truth, his father s falsity After this initial contextual background come about twenty essays on various aspects of the novel, such as education, gardens, material culture, religion, etc.One of the essays is on intertextuality, which is the focus on another used book I picked up a few weeks ago at Alexander Book Store in San Francisco Alexander is a terrific resource, with excellent displays of literature in translation Stock is almost exclusively new, although there is a textbook floor I ve never been to I dont know how this used book crept into the mythology section The work I found is titled The Story of Stone Intertextuality, Ancient Chinese Stone Lore, and the Stone Symbolism of Dream of the red Chamber, Water Margin, and The Journey to the West by Jing Wang It opens with quotes from the opening scenes of these three classics, emphasizing the presence of an essential stone in each I ve only read the first few pages, but just knowing this about the connection between the books will be useful In fact, since the other two are on my list and precede the Stone in composition date, I m tempted to detour through them so the intertextuality I find will be in sequential order Wang s work is pretty academic, so perhaps I ll do dipping in that reading straight through.To close, a poem from near the end of volume one Bao Chai, the solid, virtuous girl cousin, is telling the story about the Fifth Patriarch , who is old and looking for a worthy successor He orders a contest to compose the best gatha One contender offers Our body like the Bo tree isOur mind s a mirror bright.Then keep it clean and free from dust,So it reflects the light.But the winner refutes him with No real Bo tree the body is,The mind no mirror bright.Since of the pair none s really there,On what could dust alight

  6. says:

    The Story of the Stone, also known as Dreams In the Red Chamber, is probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Chinese classical novels of all time.The best way to describe the book is probably to address it as a family saga As the story progresses, we can follow the main characters and look into the daily life of a fictional Chinese noble family, there are romances, tragedies, family dramas, rivalries, conflicts and so much in the book, all of them richly written by the author, Cao Xueqin, who also came from a decayed noble family in the 1700s.The heart and soul of The Story of the Stone is its well developed, vividly described characters, especially the young ladies and girls with nobles, commoners, servants, slaves among them Through his writing, Cao breathed life into his female characters with so much fondness, respect and sadness, giving them remarkable and different personalities By the way, the author made it no secret that he spent than 20 years to write The Story of the Stone in order to immortalize all the lovely, highly talented ladies he had met in his life Although these female characters in the book, lovely that they certainly are, are not without flaws in personalities and behaviors, which makes them so much realistic and believable There re a lot of joy and sadness love and lust, dreams and reality, comedies as much as tragedies in the book It can be read as a coming of age story whilst it can also be read as a fable or a myth with lot of insight about life and death, fate and emptiness, in between the events and human dramas.Last but not least, The Story of the Stone is also filled with great poetry and awesome writing Reading this book is the same like stepping into a carefully and masterfully crafted unique world, which allows us to have a look at the world of a bygone ancient China and know the people who resident in this unique world.However, I am NOT saying it s a book for everyone To many readers, the pace might appear to be too slow, and the naturism undertone means hardly anything and anyone in the book is plainly black and white, sometime the events become too complicated and too difficult to follow I dare say many people would also think the main character, Jia Bao yu an anti hero is too passive and nothing doing for a male lead So I think it s all up to your own taste _ Also, I must give thank to the translator for undertaking such a hard work, I can even imagine him vomiting blood while translating this masterpiece into English What a task it must be

  7. says:

    This book is first of a five volume English translation of a Chinese classic, Dream of the Red Chamber a.k.a The Story of the Stone composed by Cao Xueqin It generally considered as one of China s Four Great Classical Novels It was written sometime in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, and the setting of the story is early in the 18th century.This book was selected by Great Books KC group as our exposure to non western literature for the year 2016 At the time Dream of the Red Chamber was selected for our schedule we didn t realize how long the complete work is The Story of the Stone 1973 1980 , the first eighty chapters translated by Hawkes and last forty by John Minford, consists of five volumes and 2,339 pages of actual core text not including Prefaces, Introductions and Appendices Total page count is 2,572 Our group decided to limit our discussion to the first volume as a manageable reading assignment I have no intention of completing the other four volumes any time in the foreseeable future.It s my understanding that the complete story is about the beginning grandeur and eventual decline of the aristocratic Jia family clan As indicated by its title, The Golden Days, this first volume is focused on the beginning prosperous years The book provides a detailed insight into wealthy Chinese cultural life of the time and the story s narrative includes frequent use of poetry But this novel lays out a sprawling story line with numerous characters with names impossible for western readers to remember or pronounce This is combined with excruciating details which at times can be beautiful, but overall becomes a heavy forest of words for the reader to slog through Frankly, I didn t appreciate the experience very much If I feel this way after the first volume I hate to imagine how I would feel should I manage to complete all five volumes.The following link lists four books that need to be read to understand modern day China

  8. says:

    Not quite like anything I ve ever read before, and I m not sure what to make of it, or whether or not to say I liked it Something like 3 stars for enjoyment, bumped up to four for novelty and for my curiosity about where this is all going In any case, I ll definitely be continuing to the second volume of five.The Story of the Stone, commonly I think known as The Dream of the Red Chamber, is one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature, and often said to be the greatest of the four Sometime last year I become curious about Chinese literature, about which I knew nothing at all, and figured this would be as good a place to start as any.I feel a bit hesitant about focusing in this review on how unusual this novel is to someone not familiar with Chinese literature I don t want to overstate its distance from Western literature which after all is a giant category that includes many disparate and odd things or present it merely as some sort of exotic curiosity to be gawked at rather than a work to be judged on its merits like any other However, having read only a small part of the whole work at this point, I don t really feel qualified to judge it or even say much about its artistic qualities at all All I have are some preliminary impressions that amount to, well, that was different So here we go.The two main things that struck me as odd or different about this book were the tone and the narrative structure The tone is a mixture I haven t encountered before On the one hand, much of the story is lighthearted and whimsical in a way that reminds me of nothing than Western children s literature This feeling is bolstered by the fact that the central characters are young adolescents, and that the protagonist, Bao Yu, is cosmically special being the incarnation of a magic piece of jade in the way many children s fantasy protagonists are The young characters are depicted as realistically childish, and there is a great deal of teasing, awkward juvenile flirtation, and the like, none of which would be out of place in, say, one of the earlier Harry Potter books.However, the story as a whole is emphatically not a children s story there are intermittent bursts of shocking violence, morbid cruelty, explicit sexuality among the older characters , and so forth As well, the childish antics take place within a large aristocratic clan and a great number of pages are given over to the day to day business, minor power struggles, and the like that take place among the older family members and among the numerous servants.So if I could try to describe the overall feel of the book by comparison to Western literature, the closest thing I could come up with is something like a cross between one of the first few Harry Potter books and some 19th century chronicle of an aristocratic family, with recurring flashes of gothic horror and metafiction Though even that isn t really very accurate.As for the structure, it s highly episodic and lacks a through line of narrative tension Highly tense or dangerous situations arise quite suddenly from time to time, but are typically resolved within the same chapter that introduces them or, if not, in the following chapter , and tend to make few obvious marks on the story as a whole Many chapters have nearly no tension and simply recount some episode of minor clan politics among the adult or servant characters or juvenile antics among the child characters Most of this is pleasant, in a low key way, but creates little feeling that the story is going somewhere or building progressively, which is odd in conjunction with the portentous way it begins Bao Yu is incarnated from a magic piece of jade, and one expects his life to be somehow special or unique in consequence.Much as it contains many discrete episodes whose significance to the whole is not always made clear to the reader, the book also contains a very large number of characters hundreds, I think , and it makes little effort to indicate directly which of these characters are most central or important As a result, it was quite difficult to get my bearings in the early chapters, as I was confronted with a flurry of names, some of which recurred from chapter to chapter and some of which didn t Of course it was harder to keep track of the characters because I m not used to Chinese names what s , many of the characters are related and have the same family names Thankfully, this edition has an appendix of characters After a while, it became clear that certain people were major characters and I began to recognize them as distinct entities, but it took a few hundred pages for me to really feel comfortable, and even after 500 pages I still resigned myself to thinking who s s he oh well, probably doesn t matter pretty frequently.The characterization even of the main characters takes place in this distinctive atmosphere, one in which scores of people continually disappear and reappear from view and the reader is expected to cheerfully keep track of it all as though every one were a dear friend The relationships between Bao Yu and various other characters, for instance, are rarely introduced to the reader in a distinct way, but instead become gradually apparent as one watches him interact with people he has already formed pre existing ties to There is a constant feeling of coming into something complicated in medias res and trying to get a sense of it without clear signposts.The back cover of my edition, for instance, informs me that the story centers around a sort of love triangle between Bao Yu and two other characters, Dai Yu and Bao Chai But this is not introduced to the reader in a set of clear cut dramatic set pieces instead these three characters appear incidentally in various episodes, sometimes individually, sometimes apart, and if their relations to one another are especially important, it is left for the reader to pick up on this signal coursing through a much larger sea of realistically profuse details It wasn t until the last third of this volume, for instance, that I had any sense of Dai Yu s personality Dai Yu being, like all the other characters, a figure who pops up from time to time rather than a player in some consistent, progressively developed dramatic narrative and Bao Chai is still largely a mystery to me I hope and expect she will be thoroughly characterized in later volumes.Much of what I ve said may just reflect the fact that I have only read a small part of a larger whole It s possible, for instance, that the dramatic through line I found lacking simply hasn t developed yet But it nonetheless seems significant that such a through line hasn t emerged in 500 pages of incident All in all, I m not sure how I feel about this style of storytelling, or about the book as a whole, and am hesitant to say any until I ve read further But my curiosity is piqued, though I m not sure how much of that is due to Xueqin s skill and how much of it is due to the simple novelty of such an unfamiliar literary form As always with translations, I also wonder what I m missing by not reading it in the original David Hawkes translation is apparently well thought of, and it reads pleasantly and maintains a impish, whimsical tone which I imagine is consistent with the original , but it s rarely excellent, as opposed to merely serviceable, by the standards of English prose.

  9. says:

    So, how can one give one of the world s greatest classics only four stars The I have read this novel over the years, the I have come to have reservations about David Hawkes translation There is no doubt that his English is exceedingly rich, well suited to capture the richness of the original Chinese But Hawkes has a way of over translating, particularly at critical points For example, when one of the servant s describes Xi feng Phoenix as sour faced and hard hearted, Hawkes says a sour faced, hard hearted bitch p271 This adds a slight sexual innuendo that is not only absent in the original but is quite inappropriate, at least when applied to Xi feng Often Hawkes additions, like this one, change the tone of the original or even disambiguate it in ways that are not justified Now, this is only the first volume of a five volume novel I have read and taught all five volumes of the Hawkes Minford volume before, but I think this time, in my leisurely reading, I will turn to the newly reprinted Bencroft Joly translation, which seems a literal translation of the original than Hawkes much praised volumes.

  10. says:

    Amazingly engrossing book volume The semi autobiographical story of an upper class family in 1700 s Qing China The list of characters reaches War and Peace proportions.