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Penguin Classics #5 Story Of The Stone The Dreamer Wakes [Paperback]

Xueqin Cao , John Minford
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 1 1986 Penguin Classics (Book 5)
"The Story of the Stone" (c. 1760), also known as "The Dream of the Red Chamber", is one of the greatest novels of Chinese literature. The fifth part of Cao Xueqin's magnificent saga, "The Dreamer Awakes", was carefully edited and completed by Gao E some decades later. It continues the story of the changing fortunes of the Jia dynasty, focussing on Bao-yu, now married to Bao-chai, after the tragic death of his beloved Dai-yu. Against such worldly elements as death, financial ruin, marriage, decadence and corruption, his karmic journey unfolds. Like a sleepwalker through life, Bao-yu is finally awakened by a vision, which reveals to him that life itself is merely a dream, 'as moonlight mirrored in the water'.

Frequently Bought Together

Penguin Classics #5 Story Of The Stone The Dreamer Wakes + Penguin Classics #4 Story Of The Stone Debt Of Tears + Penguin Classics #1 Story Of The Stone The Golden Days
Price For All Three: CDN$ 40.58

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About the Author

Cao Xueqin (?1715-63) was born into a family which for three generations held the office of Commissioner of Imperial Textiles in Nanking, a family so wealthy they were able to entertain the Emperor four times. However, calamity overtook them and their property was consfiscated. Cao Xueqin was living in poverty when he wrote his famous novel The Story of the Stone.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
We told in our previous volume how Xi-feng, finding Grandmother Jia and Aunt Xue somewhat cast down by the mention of Dai-yu's death, had endeavoured to raise their spirits with a humorous anecdote. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book was written one year before the French Revolution, in 1788, in Beijing, China by a riches-to -rags nobleman called Cao Xue Quin. It is viewed by many as the greatest classical Chinese romantic novel ever written.
I read the original Chinese version of this book when I was in high school, many years ago. At that time, my impression was that it was a Chinese Romeo and Juliet type tragic love story, in which the main characters Bao-yu and his cousin Dai-yu (Black Jade) suffered the fate of unfulfilled love, and no ever after. There was more to it than that, but I could not figure out what.
Recently, I re-read the book (the current trans- lated version). This time it sounded like the Adven- tures of Tom Jones, in which the teen-aged playboy Bao-yu was dallying in the ranks of the female members of his household (his cousins and maids), longing after many but only truly loving Dai-yu.
It was also a bit similar to Upstairs Downstairs -- a big noble clan with all its ladies, young misses and maids, and their lives of adventures and tears. But something was still missing. There was a theme, a message, which draws me and others to this great work of literature.
I finally figured it out: Almost all the WOMEN in this book were described as elegant, sophisticated, intelligent, graceful, excellent decision makers, and above all, beautiful. Most MEN, however, were described as fools, red-necks, unfaithful, heart-breakers, nogooders, users of prostitutes and abusers of power!
What I am looking at is a book (or one-MAN crusade) of Early Feminism. It is all the more remarkable because in feudal China, women did not have equal status. "marrying for love" seldom existed. It was more like "married by parental arrangement".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystical-Reality Sept. 20 2000
I've read all parts of The Story of the Stone. It starts and ends in a mystical fashion; coming full circle in a traditional ying/yang way. Wonderful five volume story about two wealthy families closely connected to the throne. Although there's not much known about the true author, I suspect that it was written by a maid. There is incredible detail from the perspective of the servents working for their sometimes nutty employers. The family actually built a garden at one point in honor of a visit from a daughter who had been chosen to be a royal concubine. If you want to immerse yourself in the ups and downs, daily life, (warts and all) of 1750's Chinese culture don't miss The Story of the Stone et al.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest novels ever written Jan. 18 2001
I read the other reviews on this page, and I thought I should add something: this novel is unbelievably beautifully written, and the english translation is absolutely superb.
You cannot find any better example of novel-writing skill in any language.
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4.0 out of 5 stars At the end there is Buddha Sept. 4 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Story of the Stone is one of the "Four Classic Chinese Novels." The value to the Western reader is that it provides great insight into the daily lives and culture of the Chinese Nobility in the 18th Century. Religion, which had been present but not prominent in the first four volumes of the Story of the Stone, becomes the driving force in the narrative in the second half of Volume 5.

The problem for the Western reader is trying to figure out what to mark the Story of the Stone against. The first three volumes seem to be a Proustian tribute to a golden age of poetry experienced by the Wang-Jias a prominent clan of nobles who all live together in a huge compound. Volume four is Hubris as the family cut off from the world commit steadily more wicked and cruel actions leaving the floor strewn with the corpses of bullied servants, beaten concubines and innocent commoners. Volume Five starts out as Nemesis. Justice strikes. The bureaucracy discovers that two members of the family are guilty of fraud and lone-sharking. The police raid the Wang-Jia compound and confiscate most of the valuables they can find. Edicts then strip them of their estates.

The Wang-Jias try to rally. They take stock and discover they are almost broke. They have been living beyond their means. Their stewards have been embezzling from them and their house servants have been constantly pilfering. Unfortunately, once they realize what their situation is, they are unable to take effective action. The women in the family were masters at bullying the maids and concubines but are totally incapable of dealing with their true problems. The extravagance continues.

The men are simply witless.
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By A Customer
The book gives us a complete picture of the feudal societ of China.It exposes the rot of the late Qing Dynasty of China.What makes people moved most is the tragic love story between Lin Daiyu and Jia Baoyu.Its exquisite style of writing and variegated description do great credit to its success.Some forfather has said that it was an encyclopaedia of the feudal society of China,and I do agree with it.I think that the most valuable point of this book,is that it denounces the cruel percecution which has been done to women by the feudalism--the feudal system,and it embodies the author's thoughts that women should be respecte and be equal to men.In that society,these are rare and valuable.
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