The Dream of the Red Chamber; [ Hung Lou Meng]. Cao Xueqin.
The Dream of the Red Chamber; [ Hung Lou Meng]

The Dream of the Red Chamber; [ Hung Lou Meng]

Hong Kong: Kelly and Walsh, 1892 & 1893. First Edition. Wrappers. 2 vols. 1st edition in English, a minimal 1st printing in Hong Kong, to satisfy the curiosity and demand of a very small British market. This is the great novel of Chinese prose fiction, a masterpiece of abundance and aesthetics. Original wrappers, chips and wear else very good, sound, complete, and quite a scarce 1st edition, even when it’s rebound, and it’s a rarity in original wrappers (I’ve seen 1 other set in original wrappers, and that one was defective and imperfect). Fine half calf case. Very good. Item #335

Red Chamber was written between 1740 and 1763, and circulated in manuscript until the 1st Chinese printing in 1791 by Cheng Weiyung and Gao E that added 40 chapters (not by Cao Xueqin) to the original 80. Our 1st printing in English has most of the original 80 chapters, rightly ignoring the 1791 additions. It’s a semi–autobiographical tale of romantic love and the impermanence of earthly values, written in vernacular rather than classical Chinese. It has a wide psychological scope detailing the forces enveloping the rise and decline of Cao Xueqin’s own family set against the parallel rise and decline of the Qing Dynasty. In its depth it explores dozens of the particulars of its time including architecture, medicine, mythology, cuisine, and proverbs, to name but a few. And it was so widely popular and influential that (wait for it) its vernacular became the basis for modern spoken Chinese. “Truth becomes fiction when the fiction’s true. Real becomes not–real where the unreal is real.” –Dream of the Red Chamber (from the opening chapter).

Price: $12,500.00

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