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Penguin Classics #3 Story Of The Stone Warning Voices [Paperback]

Cao Xueqin , David Hawkes
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 30 2005 Story of the Stone (the Dream of the Red Chamber) (Book 3)
"The Story of the Stone (c. 1760)", also known by the title of "The Dream of the Red Chamber", is the great novel of manners in Chinese literature. Divided into five volumes, of which "The Warning Voice" is the third, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). The two main characters, Bao-yu and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humour, realistic detail and delicate poetry, which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. But over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence - a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.

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Penguin Classics #3 Story Of The Stone Warning Voices + Penguin Classics #4 Story Of The Stone Debt Of Tears + Penguin Classics #5 Story Of The Stone The Dreamer Wakes
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About the Author

Cao Xueqin (Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in) ca. 1715-1763 Cao is considered to be China's greatest novelist, but little is known of his life. An unconventional, versatile man, he came from an eminent and wealthy family which suffered a reversal of fortune in 1728 after the death of the Kangxi Emperor and a power struggle between his sons. Cao seems to have spent about ten years writing and revising his novel, from roughly 1740 to 1750, but the last 40 of the 120 chapters were completed by a different author, probably after his death. He also worked for a period of time in the Imperial Clan's school for the children of the nobility and bannermen, but eventually settled in the countryside west of Peking. He earned some money by selling his own paintings, but his family seems to have been perpetually in poverty.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Cousin Zhen and Jia Lian had secretly instructed their pages to have a large flat-bottomed basket of largesse-money in readiness, and when they heard Grandmother Jia call out 'Largesse!', they told the pages to take this basket and empty it onto the stage. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Raise the Red Lantern Sept. 4 2014
Format:Paperback
Contrary to the modern view that the duty of literature is be literary, I always hope that literature will be educational. In this regard the Story of the Stone which is one of the so-called "Four Chinese Classics" is paying off in Spades.

Volume Three helped throw considerable light on my childhood experiences as a coin collector. I recall entering a coin shop at nine years of age with my father as an escort. In a bin, I came across at tattered paper bill with Chinese characters, a sour looking mandarin and the following inscription in English: "One million Hell Dollars." "What is this?", I asked the clerk.

"That is not real. The Chinese put this hell money in the coffins so their relatives will money to spend when they are in the afterlife," answered the clerk.

"I collect coins not bills," I said and threw the note back.

"It sounds to me like a cock and bull story," said my father who retrieved the note from the bin and bought it for a nickel so we could tell Mother the story. This item is still in my collection.

In the third volume the Story of the Stone, the Hell money appears. Our hero Bao-Yu has several notes burned as a prank to the consternation of some of his cousins. His mother approves heartily: "Good. I am glad you burned it," she affirms. "This spirit script is a bad modern idea. You won't find any mention of it in Confucious."

Thus I learned that the clerk in the coin had told me a story that was at least partially accurate. Moreover, I discovered that my father's disdainful view of Hell money was consistent with that of the fictitious Chinese noblewoman of the 18th century.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A reflection of modern China Sept. 18 2001
Format:Hardcover
The Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the most famous novel in China. Despite the fact that there are over four hundred characters in the story, the author managed to capture the essence of each one brilliantly. All the characters seem to come alive under the author's pen. One thing worth mentioning is that, Cao actually led a life plagued by poverty. What flamboyance he described in the book came from his childhood memories. The rise and fall of the Rong's family conveys the author's central idea - that life is really just a dream. Unfortunately, it is often beyond man's ability to see through the haze and escape from the disappointment of such. What we seeked in the past - wealth and fame - continue to be our desire of present times. Such abject view of life is reflected in the story of the hero - jia bao yu - who in the end decided to spend the rest of his life as a monk to ponder the meaning of existence.
All in all, the Dream in the Red Chamber does not only reflect the situation in modern China, but also tells the story of Chinese ethics and love. A must read if one desires to learn more about China.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good Attempt on Translating difficult Chinese June 26 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I have just finished reading the Chinese Version of the story (which I would rate as 5 stars), and thought, although the English Version is pretty accurate, it somehow lacks the fluency the story should have. Because of the difficulty for foreign people to imagine the situation, readers are not involved in the story as much and is therefore less effective than some books like the Wild Swan. The translation has definitely lost some tastes from the Chinese version. However if you are a foreigner who wants to explore Chinese culture, or a person who does not understand written Chinese very well (like me), this is still the book to read,for this is a book that can endure repeated reading such that one can inevitably find more and more traces of Cao Xueqin's ingenuity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Attempt on Translating difficult Chinese June 26 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have just finished reading the Chinese Version of the story (which I would rate as 5 stars), and thought, although the English Version is pretty accurate, it somehow lacks the fluency the story should have. Because of the difficulty for foreign people to imagine the situation, readers are not involved in the story as much and is therefore less effective than some books like the Wild Swan. The translation has definitely lost some tastes from the Chinese version. However if you are a foreigner who wants to explore Chinese culture, or a person who does not understand written Chinese very well (like me), this is still the book to read,for this is a book that can endure repeated reading such that one can inevitably find more and more traces of Cao Xueqin's ingenuity.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warning voices to presage the decadence of the Jia Nov. 12 2005
By Matthew M. Yau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Volume 3 finds the significant idea in Buddhist that one would open his eyes to the vanity of human affections and causes a person to renounce the world, for one no longer subscribes to the conventions of the mundane, dust-stained world and thrives to be detached from it.

The title of this gripping, escalating volume, The Warning Voice, duly confirms the intractable decadence of the Jias. Tolstoy's opening line in Anna Karenina best describes the unfavorable miasma - "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." Outsiders look at the Jias and all its wealth and immediately think how happy the Jias must be, they don't realize the vexations far outweigh the advantages and privileges. Being a big family with its numerous maids' converting to mistresses and concubines, daily fuss and drama are inevitable. These mistresses are conceited, usually full of their own importance, and always take offense at the most trivial matter, and at the slightest bit of cross do they begin to spread rumors to stir up trouble. It is under such quarrelsome milieu that the Jias gradually wanes. Volume 3 begins with the domestic hierarchy of maids in the house and how in the sabbatical of Xi-feng from managing house duties the well being of the family is left at the mercy of the senior maids.

In the event of an imperial member's death, the Jia ladyships take to daily excursion to the palace where they attend ceremonies during the mourning period (usually spans 100 days during Ming and Qing dynasties). Their stewards and stewardesses are no less occupied with accompanying them and seeing that preparations are readied ahead of time. Lacking discipline normally imposed by these officers and being deprived of Xi-feng's invidiously stringent implementation of rules on the operation of the house, domestics of both mansions (Rong and Ning) grow slovenly in the duties. Some take advantage of the exceptional circumstances to allay themselves with those placed temporarily in charge. Others, like the ex-actresses who remain under the Jias' patronage, become so imperious, demanding and fastidious about their commodities that the servants remain silent to avoid disputations. The urgent call for economizing adds fuel to the flame as the household is plagued by quarrel over the harvest of the garden, which is divided up among the growers and keepers. In a matter of weeks, happenings within the mansion render the whole place in a state of mutiny. The Rong and Ning mansions are inevitably left at the mercy of the few loyal, experienced senior maids who even go as far as bending authority to spare an innocent maid the accusation of stealing.

Some of the most memorable scenes of THE DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER are indubitably those that concern Jia Lian's secret second marriage and its aftermath. The cunning Xi-feng deliberately conceals her knowledge of the shameful matter and executes her plan silently. Keeping her anger at bay and taking advantage of her rival's lacking in guile, Xi-feng entreats her rival to live with her, feigns kindness and makes her rival feel reassured about her future in the bosom of so delightful a family. Xi-feng's forbearance and outward gesture of kindness greatly mystify everyone who knows about the matter but little does anyone know about her true intent to rid of this new mistress. The treacherous Xi-feng surreptitiously draws up a fictitious court case accusing her own husband of taking an unlawful wife during national mourning and family mourning in order to rid of her rival indirectly. Her strategy is to stir up a betrothal agreement concerning her rival in the old days and manipulates the formerly affianced to bring a written indictment against her own husband before the court.

Insubordination and deterioration of moral standard infest the garden and infuriate Lady Wang. In her opinion each one of the maids in the garden is potential corrupter of her son Bao-yu. She orders a raid of the garden at the awestruck finding of a lewd picture. Secret investigation on the obscene brick-a-brac immediately takes place with such single-minded persistence and orders all maids to be subjected to her scrutiny. The unforeseen incidence raises alarm in Lady Wang about Bao-yu's squandering his time in the garden. Bao-yu is unprepared for the raging tempest that has just passed over him. The things his mother charges the maids with so uncanny a knowledge of even his most intimate conversations with them that there seem a little point in denial.

This volume faintly presages Bao-yu's determination to grip his own destiny. He thrives to live his life as he wants to and recognizes life'' uncertainty. This is significant in his defiance over the family-decided marriage to Bao-chai and his firm refusal to let go of his feeling and affection for Lin Dai-yu. It can be inferred that in his ineffable pain of losing Dai-yu that he has conceived the incipient thought to break away from the dust-stained world. Buddhist teaching dictates the second half of this climax-reaching volume of the novel. At the depletion of wealth and the dimming of glitter the truth of Buddha outshines the taste of luxury that is proven to be vanity at best. Out of the sea of suffering, one might turn the light and resolve to abjure the world and its vanities in order to prepare for the life to come. This idea burgeons toward the end of The Warning Voice as a sign and will be further explored in Volume 4.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A reflection of modern China Sept. 18 2001
By "icy_fox" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Dream of the Red Chamber is one of the most famous novel in China. Despite the fact that there are over four hundred characters in the story, the author managed to capture the essence of each one brilliantly. All the characters seem to come alive under the author's pen. One thing worth mentioning is that, Cao actually led a life plagued by poverty. What flamboyance he described in the book came from his childhood memories. The rise and fall of the Rong's family conveys the author's central idea - that life is really just a dream. Unfortunately, it is often beyond man's ability to see through the haze and escape from the disappointment of such. What we seeked in the past - wealth and fame - continue to be our desire of present times. Such abject view of life is reflected in the story of the hero - jia bao yu - who in the end decided to spend the rest of his life as a monk to ponder the meaning of existence.
All in all, the Dream in the Red Chamber does not only reflect the situation in modern China, but also tells the story of Chinese ethics and love. A must read if one desires to learn more about China.
5.0 out of 5 stars This is wonderful Chinese Literarure May 18 2014
By scott michael - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have now read all three volumes of the David Hawkes' translation of 'The Dream of the Red Chamber' and I am simply blown away by the sheer volume of the text, and how there is never a dull moment. Not only is it a beautiful love story, but it is also a semi autobiographical account of the rise and fall of Cao Wue-Qin's family. I love modern Chinese writers like Mo Yan and Yu Hua, but I must say this novel is a must read for anyone wishing to understand Chinese Literature. My wife is Chinese and she knows this work from her days in school, and she said that it must have been very hard to translate the old Chinese into Modern English, but I would say that Mr. Hawkes' version is true and as close as one can get to an excellent translation of an enormous tome. I would just stick to these 3 volumes with the 80 chapters - and enjoy. This is truly a great piece of world literature that should be read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning book March 19 2013
By Sharron M. Dupree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an awesome book. It is one of a famous trilogy that I happened upon while I was searching for Judge Dee mysteries. It is magical, marvelous, and absorbing.
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