The Dream of the Red Chamber — Cao Xunqin
Hong Lou Meng ( written in 1760 by Cao Xunqin), also known as « The Dream of the Red Chamber », »The story of a stone », is one of the greatest novels of Chinese literature, and even can be regarded as the most outstanding novel in Chinese history.
Hong Lou Meng continues the story of the changing fortunes of the Jia dynasty ; the reader follows the daily life in the Rong Guo house, which is disrupted by the tragic love and marriage among Jia Baoyu, Lin dayu and Xue Baochai.
The greatness of Hong Lou Meng is that it is not a simple love story ; It contains the memory of the writer Cao Xueqin himself, who was born in a very descended family, which eventually « fell down and broke into pieces ». In Hong Long Meng, you will find the girls he loved, the friends he made, the poems they wrote, the best time they had, and the past glory which will never, never come back.
So, it is not a novel actually, it is the epitaph of his decended family and all of his memories, which are the only thing he ever owned : as his family fell down, he became terribly poor : he had no money to buy medicine, and eventually died of disease.
So in this book, you will be taught that « nothing lasts forever » : money and power, love and hate, all these things will fade away. Life itself is merely a dream, ‘as moonlight mirrored in the water’, you can see it, but can never hold it in your hand.
Just as Shakespeare said: « Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. »
Review by Zijing
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