The Dream of the Red Chamber
H. Bencraft Joly
The Dream of the Red Chamber provides a detailed, episodic record of life in the two branches of the wealthy, aristocratic Jia clan—the Rongguo House and the Ningguo House—who reside in two large, adjacent family compounds in the capital. Their ancestors were made Dukes and given imperial titles, and as the novel begins the two houses are among the most illustrious families in the city. One of the clan's offspring is made a Royal Consort, and a lush landscaped garden is built to receive her visit. In the novel's frame story, a sentient Stone, abandoned by the goddess Nüwa when she mended the heavens aeons ago, begs a Taoist priest and a Buddhist monk to take it with them to see the world.