A Dream of Red Mansions
A Dream of Red Mansions is a monumental work in Chinese classic novel.
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In the middle of 18th century, the time of Qianlong prosperity appeared a long fiction that sensed the coming declination of feudal dynasty and saddened for it in Chinese literature. That was Cao Xueqing's "A Dream of Red Mansions".
"A Dream of Red Mansions" is a monumental work in Chinese classic novel. The reasons why Cao Xueqin could write such a brilliant work were closely related to his talent and culture. But a more important factor was his living experience, which changed greatly. Cao Xueqin's grandfather was deeply trusted by Kangxi Emperor, so Cao spent his early life in a prosperous family. But later, Cao Family changed dramatically, being demoted and banished from Najing to Beijing. Young Cao Xueqin experienced much fickleness of human relationship. In his late years, Cao Xueqin lived in west suburbs in Beijing. Under the severe living conditions, Cao Xueqin wrote 80 episodes of "A Dream of Red Mansions". But unfortunately, he left us forever before he ended the final scripts.
"A Dream of Red Mansions" can be also named "The Story of A Stone". When Cao Xueqin wasn't dead, his original manuscripts had been handed down. After his death, a man named Gao E tried to figure out the author's original meanings, and then continued to write the last 40 episodes. Finally he finished "A Dream of Red Mansions".
A Dream of Red Mansions" is an encyclopedia novel. The characters referred in this novel almost cover the whole classes of Chinese society at that time, from relatives of the emperor to the noble officers; from maids to monks, merchants and farmers. In its description, "A Dream of Red Mansions" describes almost the whole phases of social life in Qing Dynasty, from the social activities of upper class to the planting and singing and dancing of the lower class.
In Cao Xueqin's display, his angle shifted from kinsmen of the emperor to focusing on Jia, Shi, Wang, and Xue Families, and then shifted from these four families to Jia Family. Furthermore, he set Grand View Garden as the center place where those activities happened. According to those women, especially the small society they live in and their relationship with the outside world, Cao reflected the whole world and symbolized the process of Jia Family's declination.
Cao Xueqin succeeded in portraying those characters. There were more than 700 people, including not less than 100 classic people. Cao Xueqin grasped women, especially the sensitive and complicated emotions and love of young women accurately and deeply. He exposed their expectations towards life and the desires towards love by his rich sympathy. He not only displayed the human nature, but also expressed the limitation and influence of the surroundings and society towards them. Consequently, he could create their three-dimensional art images.
The art value of "A Dream of Red Mansions" is an endless topic. Its language, construction, and the creation of characters reached the top of the Chinese classic novels.