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andreabt

Dream of the Red Mansion/Chamber

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andreabt

I'm just wondering...has anyone managed to read this the whole way through, either in Chinese (I would bow at your feet if so) or English? My last year in China I came upon a three-volume English translation, and attempted to struggle through it. I think I made it about halfway through the second volume, maybe not even that far. I'm sure it would have been helpful if I'd had a better understanding of that time in Chinese history, since it's my understanding that the author meant it to be sort of a parody/comment on the political situation at the time. But my gosh, I read Moby Dick in college, and though it was hard (and I confess to skimming the huge middle part that seemed like a reference work on whaling techniques), Moby Dick was Dick and Jane compared to Hong Lou Meng! I started making a list of all the characters just to keep them straight...I think I stopped at around 50 or so. And I never did figure out the real plot, though I know it was something to do with a romance between Baoyu (?) and the one girl (whose name I can't remember...was it his cousin?); it seemed like 20 subplots were going on even before those two characters even entered the story!

I also have a copy of Journey to the West by the same publisher (also English, also three volumes), but after not making it through Hong Lou Meng, I've been afraid even to start it :)

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Guest LittleBuddhaTW

I've read it in English and Chinese several times. Some people absolutely fall in love with it (like me), and others can't stand it. Most of my Taiwanese friends have never read it and have no interest in reading it (the language is somewhat archaic, and the message is too "deep" for most younger people, perhaps). Anyway, keep trying ... but you have to read between the lines. Cao Xueqin's message is much deeper than a simple satire of Qing society in the 18th century. Also, keep in mind that the last 40 chapters were not written by Cao Xueqin, and the plot endings are probably quite different from what he originally intended (we know this mostly from the commentaries of Zhiyanzhai, a relative of Cao Xueqin ... however, these comments aren't included in most printed editions of the novel). Anyway, keep trying ... it really is a great book!

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pazu

I read the whole novel from the beginning to the end once only, but I like it and I felt myself loss when I finished that novel. I lingered at the last few chapters for long enough to get myself back to a normal life.

I don't know much about the English version but it'd be definitely difficult to translate this novel into any other languages. I wonder how one can translate the puns which expressed some deeper meaning, or probably the best way is to skip it or giving some footnotes (which will ruin the novel).

And the poems/lessons (偈) were great. Two of the best 偈 in this novel were the two at the beginning and the end, which recall and resemble each other, and I always feel sad to read this.

滿紙荒唐言, 一把辛酸淚,

都云作者痴, 誰解其中意?

說到辛酸處, 荒唐愈可悲。

由來同一夢, 休笑世人癡!

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skylee

I have read it (the Chinese version) several times, and have it handy in my palm in case I want to read it. I think I read it the first time when I was in middle school and it was kind of difficult (yes because of the huge number of characters and the sub-plots and so on). But then it got easier and easier. You have to read it and know the stories and the poems because they are so frequently quoted.

The main character is Baoyu (寶玉), and his love interest is his cousin Daiyu (黛玉), who is the daughter of his aunt (father's sister). Baoyu finally marries another cousin Baochai (寶釵). Baoyu, before he comes to this world, was a rock/jade, and Daiyu a plant. The rock used to water the plant. So Daiyu has to pay back the debt to Baoyu with all her tears in this life. (How romantic.) The poems I like best are the two which foretell their fates in Baoyu's dream -

"終身誤"

都道是金玉良緣,俺只念木石前盟。空對著, 山中高士晶瑩雪; 終不忘,世外仙姝寂寞林。嘆人間,美中不足今方信:縱然是齊眉舉案,到底意難平。

"枉凝眉"

一個是閬苑仙葩,一個是美玉無瑕。若說沒奇緣,今生偏又遇著他;若說有奇緣,如何心事終虛話? 一個枉自嗟呀,一個空勞牽掛。一個是水中月,一個是鏡中花。想眼中能有多少淚珠兒,怎禁得秋流到冬,春流到夏。

And the scene before Daiyu dies, when she buries the fallen flowers, is very very very famous, called "黛玉葬花".

And there's another famous poem called 紅豆詞, which has been made into a song. Just the other day I was listening to it at a fashion boutique.

And Baoyu has a maid whose name is 晴雯 (Qingwen), who is quite short-tempered (and quite cute in my opinion). And I enjoy how she gets angry with Baoyu (who is her master) and has him let her tear apart his own paper fans to please her.

I could go on and on.

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Ian_Lee

I have read the "Water Margin" many times and many versions (71 chapters, 72 chapters and 120 chapters).

I also have read the "Romance of Three Kingdom" many times and even compared it with the formal "Three Kingdoms History" written in Western Jin's time.

But for the "Dream of Red Chamber", so far I always stopped at Chapter 8.

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skylee

Ian this is very interesting. For "Romance of Three Kingdoms", I have stopped at Chapter 11 and cannot bring myself to start reading it again. And I have never been interested in even picking up "Water Margin". Different people read different books, you see.

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JoH

I have just started reading it in class. We got through the first page last week, so I think this is going to take a while (!) although I have the english translation too and am enjoying it so far (first two chapters!).

As far as english translations go, the one by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang has been recommended to me. It seems to stick very closely to the original, which is good if you want to read them side by side. I also have a (very) abridged chinese version for learners but I wouldn't recommend it. I got through about a third of it, but it is pretty boring.

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bokane

I like the David Hawkes and John Minford translation more than the Yangs'; it's better at preserving the wordplay.

Of course, I say that as if I've actually read the original in Chinese, which I haven't; I've struggled to about Chapter 30 and then been distracted by something easier. One of these days, though...

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Lu
As far as english translations go, the one by Yang Xianyi and Gladys Yang has been recommended to me. It seems to stick very closely to the original, which is good if you want to read them side by side. I also have a (very) abridged chinese version for learners but I wouldn't recommend it. I got through about a third of it, but it is pretty boring.
Keeping very close to the original is not always a good thing, more important is to keep it readable.

I really should read it one of these days, but then, there are to many books that I should read, and never enough time.

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badatpool

If there’s only one choice to read a book, I would choose “the dream of red mansion”without hesitation, it's a book without end.

Which one do you like as a partner? Baoyu? Daiyu? even though he/she can’t do anything for you, or he/she has done too much for you…

By the way, if you’re down sometimes and need an outlet for your rage , then click here.I’m just curious why he mentioned Lu Xun, but I do agree with his comment about the “the dream of red mansion”,yes,its “情”,you can find everything you want in it, from religion, politics to personal emotion, even the tea, food, wine…

How can Cao Xue Qin get so many things? Where does he come from?It's him who makes me believe “书到今生读已迟(can anyone tranlate this?)” which was written by Su Shi.

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nnt

How can Cao Xue Qin get so many things? Where does he come from?It's him who makes me believe “书到今生读已迟(can anyone tranlate this?)” which was written by Su Shi.

Actually the verse was from Yuan2 Mei2 袁枚 (Ming dynasty) referring to Huang2 Ding2 Jian1 黄庭坚 alias “苏黄”Su1 Huang2 because he was as brilliant as Su Shi.

The story is retold here:

http://pure.nease.net/ref/shuilian/2.htm

The meaning of the verse is: if you've just begun to read books--Chinese books :wink: -- in your present life, it's too late: how could you compete with someone who has spent many lives studying? :conf

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Kenny同志

It seems I should read David Hawkes' version first, but his version is tooooooooooooo expensive, about 1000RMB, my gosh!

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