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The decline of the Chia family begins with the death of the imperial consort, and when they fall into disfavour with the emperor, their mansions and the garden are eventually destroyed. The whole book has chapters, only 80 of which were written by Cao Xueqin before his death in Cheng Weiyuan and Gao E claimed to have access to Cao's papers, and published what is now known as the Cheng-Gao version in Henry Bencraft Joly translated only part of the book written by Cao.

Play Preface and Chapter I, Part 1.

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Chapter I, Part 2. Chapter I, Part 3. Chapter II, Part 1. Chapter II, Part 2. Chapter III, Part 1.


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Chapter III, Part 2. Chapter III, Part 3.

The Dream of the Red Chamber

Chapter IV, Part 1. Chapter IV, Part 2. Chapter V, Part 1. Chapter V, Part 2. Chapter V, Part 3.

Chapter VI, Part 1. Chapter VI, Part 2.

NPR Choice page

Chapter VII, Part 1. Chapter VII, Part 2. Chapter IX, Part 1. Chapter IX, Part 2. Chapter X, Part 1. Does it inform marriage choices, for example?

Is she a sympathetic character? Why or why not? How are they linked by bonds of friendship, rivalry, and sisterhood? How are these bonds broken, and in what ways do they ultimately survive? Baochai is rigorous in observing the social codes and mores of her times. Does her propriety serve her well or poorly in a society that is undergoing political change? What does she gain by suppressing her emotions and serving her elders according to expectations? In what ways does she pay a price for doing so?

Xifeng and Baochai win out in the Jia family, but it is a hollow victory.

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In the eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber, the original ending was lost or suppressed, possibly for political reasons. What elements in the story could have been politically dangerous? What social and economic sacrifices did both Daiyu and her mother make for the sake of either love or marriage? Would Baochai or Xifeng have made those types of sacrifices? Does The Red Chamber feel to you more like a classic or more like contemporary fiction? In what ways could The Red Chamber be considered truly a story for our time?

Chen Category: Historical Fiction print. Share: Share on Facebook. Add to Cart. Introduction In her magisterial first novel, Pauline A. Dayiu, an impoverished orphan adopted into the household, falls in love with Baoyu, the brilliant, unpredictable heir to the family fortune. Despite his love for Daiyu, the family betrothes him to Baochai, who hides her own passion under a dutiful exterior. Meanwhile, the young matron Xifeng struggles to protect the family from financial ruin, even as her husband spurns her for her inability to bear a child.

From the petty gossip of the servants quarters to the political turmoil that will overthrow the dynasty and plunge the once-mighty family into grinding poverty, The Red Chamber is at once sweeping and intimate, a grand historical fiction that provides a singular lens through which to view contemporary culture, and the social, political, and romantic mores of our times.

Questions and Topics for Discussion 1.

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Is Baoyu a romantic hero or an antihero? How and why? Chen completed a doctorate in Chinese literature at Princeton. She has taught Chinese language, literature, and film at the University of Minnesota and Oberlin College. LitFlash The eBooks you want at the lowest prices.