Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Hong Lou Meng


  • Please log in to reply
41 replies to this topic

#16 浪淘音

浪淘音

    State Undersecretary (Shangshu Lang 尚书郎)

  • CHF Grand Historian Award
  • 628 posts

Posted 27 November 2004 - 03:24 PM

Perhaps the best novel to compare Honglou Meng with would not be any other Chinese novel, but rather the equally rambling and complex Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) by Lady Murasaki Shikibu of Heian Japan - usually considered the first novel ever written in history. Murasaki had a huge number of subplots and minor characters, and tons of melancholy sentimentality. Her work was praised for portraying the inner emotional world of women with great accuracy and sensitivity. I haven't read Honglou Meng, but my Chinese teacher in Junior College once told me that one big reason Honglou Meng is so admired is because the author Cao Xueqin, despite being a man, was able to understand a woman's mind so well in depicting his many female characters. Honglou Meng is really a novel about a highly sensitive (perhaps effeminate) boy living in a woman's world - that's why guys are far more likely to appreciate RTK, or The Water Margin, or (for obvious reasons) The Golden Lotus.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


perhaps effeminate? hardly. TRULY effeminate would be it. i'm sorry, i'm from a farm in Henan, i can't stand effeminate males. The other characters are interesting though

#17 MengTzu

MengTzu

    Emperor (Huangdi 皇帝)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 2,105 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese Philosophy
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    General Chinese Philosophy and Religion, Confucianism

Posted 27 November 2004 - 03:58 PM

perhaps effeminate? hardly. TRULY effeminate would be it. i'm sorry, i'm from a farm in Henan, i can't stand effeminate males. The other characters are interesting though

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Baoyu is probably one of the most lovable characters in the book in my opinion. There's something very poetic about his approach to life -- you can say that the author rationalizes his obssession with women, but his attitude towards romance is definitely unique and interesting.

#18 Zuo Zongtang

Zuo Zongtang

    Grand Marshal (Da Sima/Taiwei 大司马/太尉)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 1,448 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Charlottesville, VA USA
  • Interests:Sleeping, Eating, and Watching TV
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History

Posted 27 November 2004 - 09:13 PM

Honglou Meng is so admired is because the author Cao Xueqin, despite being a man, was able to understand a woman's mind so well in depicting his many female characters.


I heard from my parents that he died before he could finish the book, so another person was ordered to finish it for him. Is there any change of style of writing at the end?
"嗟乎,燕雀安知鸿鹄之志哉" -陈胜

Sun Tzu found alive!

Help your moderators, use the "Report Post to Moderator" button.

#19 tangawizi

tangawizi

    Prefect (Taishou 太守)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 14 posts
  • Location:nairobi

Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:14 PM

Thanks to one of the forummers here, I managed to read two chinese classics this evening, the Dreams of the Red Chamber and Golden Lotus at the china-on-site. With very captivating beautiful illustrations of the characters to boot! :wub:

I enjoyed Golden Lotus very much although the endiing was a tad rushed. It's a very rustic and bawdy tale. As for Dreams of the Red Chamber, the tale does sound like a dream. Quite unlike the Golden Lotus where the protaganists dared to live life to the fullest, the protagonists in the Red Chamber seem utterly repressed in a stylised ritualistic world of opulence and good breeding.
:cry^:

#20 tangawizi

tangawizi

    Prefect (Taishou 太守)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 14 posts
  • Location:nairobi

Posted 17 February 2006 - 05:30 PM

Perhaps the best novel to compare Honglou Meng with would not be any other Chinese novel, but rather the equally rambling and complex Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari) by Lady Murasaki Shikibu of Heian Japan - usually considered the first novel ever written in history. Murasaki had a huge number of subplots and minor characters, and tons of melancholy sentimentality. Her work was praised for portraying the inner emotional world of women with great accuracy and sensitivity. I haven't read Honglou Meng, but my Chinese teacher in Junior College once told me that one big reason Honglou Meng is so admired is because the author Cao Xueqin, despite being a man, was able to understand a woman's mind so well in depicting his many female characters. Honglou Meng is really a novel about a highly sensitive (perhaps effeminate) boy living in a woman's world - that's why guys are far more likely to appreciate RTK, or The Water Margin, or (for obvious reasons) The Golden Lotus.



I am reading a translation of Genji Monogatari and I have to admit while it is a tale of melancholic sentimentality it is also full of bravura and spontaneity. I would compare Genji more to Xi Menqing in Golden Lotus. Both men are ancient casanovas with a penchant for sexual intrigues and the chase.

That said, the similarity ends there and Genji is painted as sensitive soul just like Jia Baoyu. I think Genji is fascinating as a character. I believe Murasaki had to constantly paint a profile of an effete shining lover in Genji while recounting his sexual exploits which are really no different from those of a callous knave like Xi Menqing because her readers were essentially court ladies who led secluded and yet maddeningly stifling lives, much like the women in the Red Chamber.

An effete hero like Baoyu is the sort of dreamy love interest these palace ladies can always feel a certain wistful longing in their dreary lives, while a Xi Menqing or Wu Song is too violently sexy and would make palace life too difficult to bear. I imagine the readers of Red Chamber were the noble or scholarly families of the Qing. What do you think?
Posted Image

Edited by tangawizi, 17 February 2006 - 05:41 PM.


#21 orchid_dreams

orchid_dreams

    State Undersecretary (Shangshu Lang 尚书郎)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 608 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Wellington, New Zealand
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    ah, let's take a moment and think... ^_~

Posted 18 April 2006 - 03:34 AM

the last 40 chapters of hong lou meng was written by Gao E, it was said that he changed the endings from what Cao Xueqin would've liked.
淡极始知花更艳,愁多焉得玉无痕?

#22 Chen Chun

Chen Chun

    General of the Guard (Hujun Zhongwei/Jinjun Tongshuai 护军中尉/禁军统帅)

  • Entry Scholar (Xiucai)
  • 147 posts
  • Interests:Martial Arts, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Classical Chinese

Posted 01 May 2006 - 02:30 AM

the last 40 chapters of hong lou meng was written by Gao E, it was said that he changed the endings from what Cao Xueqin would've liked.


What did Cao Xueqin would have liked the ending to be? A happier one?

#23 orchid_dreams

orchid_dreams

    State Undersecretary (Shangshu Lang 尚书郎)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 608 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Wellington, New Zealand
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    ah, let's take a moment and think... ^_~

Posted 01 May 2006 - 11:16 PM

What did Cao Xueqin would have liked the ending to be? A happier one?


no, it was things like how baoyu took the civil exam and became a monk Gao E changed. in earlier chapters Cao Xue Qin hinted that Baoyu married xiangyun in the end... and also things like what happened to XiangLing, Li Wan etc.
淡极始知花更艳,愁多焉得玉无痕?

#24 Chen Chun

Chen Chun

    General of the Guard (Hujun Zhongwei/Jinjun Tongshuai 护军中尉/禁军统帅)

  • Entry Scholar (Xiucai)
  • 147 posts
  • Interests:Martial Arts, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Classical Chinese

Posted 02 May 2006 - 02:12 AM

Yeah. And I might just add that most scholars/readers have this love-hate realtionship with Gao E because his continuation shows that he KNEW (from drafts/manuscripts) what Cao Xueque intended the ending to be but changed it to make it (in his opinion) more "palatable" to the people of the time.

I mean, the lower quality of the writing in the continuation is forgivable since we can't expect everyone to be as good as Cao Xueqin-- but changing the plot/ characterizations... urghh. Gao E deserves some credit for actually "completing" the book so that it would be became more "marketable", though.


Are Cao Xueqin's notes available for the English-speaking public?

#25 Moon shadow

Moon shadow

    Prefect (Taishou 太守)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 11 posts

Posted 02 September 2006 - 12:12 AM

Well, in my opinion, the dream of the red Chamber is THE best Chinese novel. (I really want to say one of the best, but I just can't think of any other Chinese novel that's ever came close, not only in the quality of the writing, the amount of information it carries and the deep meanings behind it itself but also how much influence it still has right now in Chinese literature). I probably have already read it more than 10 times now and I still find the interest to read it more. I read it in the original Chinese text written by Cao Xue Qin. Too affaid to touch the translated version because all those beautiful poems and deep meanings behind every word just can't simply be translated. I didn't always like the though. I actually hated it when I was a kid, but I grew more and more fond of it when I get older. It's really really not a novel for leisure reading and probably too profound to be appreciated if you only read it once. Not a good idea to read it just for fun or if you little understanding in Chinese culture, or more precisely, in how Chinese think about life and universe. The key point is that you must look beyond the plot and the characters. It will be very sad if you only see this book as a love novel. It's about so much more than romance, most importantly about the life of these aristocrates at that period of time and the nature of ancient China (a lot of the characteristics is still true about modern China now). Although I'm not a big fan of any characters in the book, but they are definitely one of the most skillfully portrayed among all the fictional characters, not because they are perfect and have many talents and good qualities, but exactly the opposite, because they are not perfect.

There are lots scholars around the world who spend their lives studying this book. It is well know as "the encyclopedia of the feudal China". It's definitly not book for bed time stories. The information and the meaning the book carries is so vast that every time when you read it (probably better if reading the original Chinese text), you can always get new things. As you grow older, you may find yourself understand it better. Some great philosophical arguments the author made in, for example the first chapter still hold true sometime and I sometimes find myself relating them to some phenomenons in the modern society.

Well, as famous as this book is, the funny thing is some people, maybe the more sentimental type, absolutely love and adore it (like me ^__^, not the characters though), other people absolutely hate it. My suggestion is if you admire strength and power and like books about war and fightings, this may not be the book for you (I know outside of writers and poets, tons of Chinese guys hate this book. Among teenages, it's usually girls who like it more).

hmmmmm.....now that I read over what I wrote above, some of my word choice may be too strong. (may be because I love this book too much ^__^b. I mean I don't think I come close being able to say I understand this book. They are solely my opinion. Don't mean to anger anyone whole has different opinion about this book. Like I said. Their are tons of people who hate it (Like my Dad -__-B)

#26 Moon shadow

Moon shadow

    Prefect (Taishou 太守)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 11 posts

Posted 02 September 2006 - 12:25 AM

Oh, right, about the continuation written by Gao E (now that people just talked about him), I don't really like what he wrote. Don't think he understood and got everything Cao intented from the evidence shown in the previous chapters. But, continuation of any masterpiece almost always suffers a lot from harsh criticism. There are parts in the last 40 chapters that's good. But he never had a life experience of being born in such a rich family with such high status and seeing it crashing down like Cao had, so we can't really expect him to be able to follow Cao's intention. For example, he wrote at the end that the emperor forgave Jia's family somewhat and gave back some of the properties. I think if Cao lived to finish Hong, he probably would write a totally tragic ending, based on his own life experience. Too bad Cao didn't finish it or some scholars say Hong is finished, but the last 40 chapters were somehow lost(Crying*). If I am granted for a wish, I really wish Hong could suvive till nowadays as a completed book.

#27 yuchen_116

yuchen_116

    Commissioner (Shi Chijie 使持节)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 58 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tianjin, PRC.
  • Interests:The Chinese history &amp; culture, and science fiction
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    The Chinese Poetry

Posted 13 November 2007 - 08:14 PM

Hong Lou Meng, which Yang Hsien-Yi and Gladys Yang translate as A Dream of Red Mansions, gives a panoramic depiction of the late and stagnant feudal society and possesses extremely high ideological as well as artistic values. The novel is unequalled in the history of the Chinese novel. Its artistic achievements haven't been surpassed by many later novelists so far. Jin Ping Mei (The Golden Vase Plum), is but a porgraphical novel and inferior to Hong Lou Meng, though Cao Xueqin learn more or less from it when writing Hong Lou Meng.

Edited by yuchen_116, 13 November 2007 - 08:16 PM.


#28 fireball

fireball

    Emperor (Huangdi 皇帝)

  • CHF Grand Historian Award
  • 2,453 posts
  • Interests:archaeology, linguistic, genetic, comparative culture, religion and philosophy, social structure, interactions between China and the world, pre-Qin era, 5 Hu 16 kingdoms, food, the origins of Chinese people and civilization, Kung-Fu novels, and Science Fiction.
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Any chinese-related stuff
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    Han, Tang, Qin, and pre-Qin era, Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Empress Wu, comparative religion and philosophy, some linguistics

Posted 13 November 2007 - 08:52 PM

I have to say that I really don't like Hong Lou Meng. I prefer Romance of the Three Kingdoms and the Outlaws on the Marshes for their stories. However, for the writing techniques and detailed descriptions of people and sceneries, I thought Hong Lou Meng was the best. The plots were not repeating like Traveling to the West or in some cases the Outlaws on the Marshes. The characterizations were so delicately done that I feel it was better than the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I just couldn't sit through all the parties and romances and poetry making, etc. I had to read the book in sections and jumped around a lot. I think I ended up reading the whole book for about 20 times, but I still don't like the story!!! I feel I could appreciate the other aspects (like the historical aspects) of Hong Lou Meng as I grew older, but that's about it.

Btw, Baichai had the best personality as the model Chinese daughter-in-law, and Daiyu had the worst. That was the reason Baichai became the wife for Baoyu even though everyone knew Baoyu liked Daiyu better. Thus, the best choice of daughter-in-law became the reason for the tragedy. The Gao E ending was what the common Chinese people would like to see at those times. In addition, if the book did not end this way, it would have a higher possibilities to get banned as an evil book that would teach the young people bad things. It might not the best ending, but (IMO) it might have allowed the book to get published and distributed.

#29 yuchen_116

yuchen_116

    Commissioner (Shi Chijie 使持节)

  • Master Scholar (Juren)
  • 58 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Tianjin, PRC.
  • Interests:The Chinese history &amp; culture, and science fiction
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    The Chinese Poetry

Posted 14 November 2007 - 10:46 PM

It might not the best ending, but (IMO) it might have allowed the book to get published and distributed.

A penetrating Opinion! In other words, the ending made by Gao E has a double effect. I hate and appreciate (not love) it.

#30 kang

kang

    Citizen (Shumin 庶民)

  • CHF Rookie Member
  • 1 posts
  • Main Interest in CHF:
    Chinese History
  • Specialisation / Expertise:
    none

Posted 10 August 2009 - 04:29 PM

i have read this book and am really most impressed by it. in my opinion it is one of the greatest chinese novels ever. unfortunately it has been badly mauled and let down by some of the modern translations such as that by hawkes who turned it into a travesty. i think prospective readers should begin with the H. Bencraft Joly translation since it at least gives a much clearer indication of the structure of qing dynasty society and gives due deference to the forms of address in use by the chinese.

to focus criticism on the alleged effeminite nature of its chief protagonist bao yu is simply to distract from the true meaning of the book. whether or not bao yu was effeminate or bi-sexual is quite irrelevant. cae xuequin wrote from an 18th century chinese perspective and not a 20th or 21st century western perspective.

western views of the book serve well only in as much as they demonstrate quite vividly the lack of understanding of chinese culture and thought by western intellects.

my interest in the book has also led me to various dramatic interpretations of the book including of course the `1987 TV series, the 1977 musical which featured brigette lin as bao yu, and the 1944 black and white version . both the 1944 and 1977 versions featured female actresses taking the lead male role. sadly some of the critiques seem to have entirely missed the point by totally misplaced references to so called "gender bending"!. this leads once again to gulf which exists between occidental and oriental thought processes, language and culture.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users