Posted by Joel Martinsen, April 11, 2008 7:18 PM
A look at sequels, retellings, and pastiches of Dream of the Red Mansions.
In this house there are many Mansions
Dream of the Red Mansions (红楼梦), the classic story of tragic romance by Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹) is quite possibly the most famous Chinese novel of all time, a fact born out by its publication history. According to data from GAPP:
But that's only the beginning.
Ever since its initial circulation, Dream of the Red Mansions has inspired sequels, pastiches, updates, and imitations (see the list below). In fact, the version most widely-read today is actually the most well-known sequel: Gao E, the story goes, edited the original 80-chapter manuscript and added an additional 40 chapters to complete Cao's unfinished novel.
Not everyone is satisfied with Gao's continuation. Zhou Ruchang, a noted Redologist, is so strongly anti-Gao that he completed his own recension of the novel, rooting out all traces of Gao's handiwork. Danwei described his position in the article Conspiracy of the Red Mansions:
Zhou published his version in late 2006.
Other writers have taken Dream of the Red Mansions as a jumping-off point for their own creative efforts. Here is a selection of modern reworkings of Cao's classic novel:
Another book of the same name was published in 2005 and was written by Tewu (特务, aka Ah Te), described on the inside flap as an American IT professional. This lengthy novel was first serialized online:
For more information on these two books, see the Danwei post Writers at home and abroad distort Red Mansions
A third Comic Red Mansions was written by Zhang Peixiang (aka Feihua, 飞花), a Peking University master's student in law who posted her writing on the school's BBS. The novel combines elements of Red Mansions and Journey to the West: Jia Baoyu, the stone left behind when Nuwa mended the heavens, turns out to be the stone from which Monkey King Sun Wukong was born.
Left unfinished, this book was published posthumously in 2004 following Zhang's death of leukemia the previous year.
· A Comic Dream of the Red Mansions (大话红楼梦), an online serial by Zhang Dekun (张德坤).
· New Dream of the Red Mansions (新红楼梦, 2006) by Chen Haiying. A college professor in Shantou wrote this 1.3-million-character, 160-chapter retelling as an online serial. Composed in modern vernacular punctuated by old-form poetry, the novel tells of Jia Baoyu's marriage to and subsequent divorce from Lin Daiyu, as well as Chen Xifeng's prison suicide following her arrest for causing the death of a servant girl. See the Shanghai Youth Daily story, for more information.
· The Story of Xichun (惜春纪, 2007) by An Yiru. A "post-80s" writer known for her interpretations of classic poetry wrote this novel, which imagines Xichun as the love-child of Jia Jing and Qin Keqing.
These are all the titles known to Danwei. We have read but a fraction of them; all comments and corrections are appreciated.
* * *
A book series, "Red Mansions Materials" (红楼梦资料丛书), published by Peking University Press, contains a number of major sequels and pastiches. Here's a list with links to online summaries and texts:
Many of these titles can also be found on the CcLer Redology archive.
Another list contains loads more titles; some of the above are included, and many are alternate titles for the same work:
Comments on the above titles are appreciated.
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.