The Dreamer Wakes: The Story of the Stone, Chapters 99-120 Paperback – Dec 2 1986
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From the Back Cover
Divided into five volumes, of which The Dreamer Wakes is the fifth, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of Cao Xuequin's own family).
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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".Read more ›
You cannot find any better example of novel-writing skill in any language.
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.Read more ›
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