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Book 1

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Cao Xueqin

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The Dream of the Red Chamber is considered the greatest of the Four Great

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Classical Novels of China. Almost 40 main characters and some 500 minor

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characters tell the fortunes of the Chia family; the book details mainly the life of

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Chia Pao-yij, the heir apparent, who is described as very intelligent, but also as

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carefree and self-indulging. The wealthy Chia family rises to new heights when

Pao-yu's elder sister becomes an imperial consort. On her first visit home, a lush

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garden is built, where much of the rest of the story takes place. The intrigues

surrounding Pao-yu and his cousins, especially Lin Tai-yu who he loves, and Hsueh

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Pao-ch'ai who he is finally tricked into marrying, make up a large part of the story.

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The decline of the Chia family begins with the death of the imperial consort, and

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when they fall into disfavour with the emperor, their mansions and the garden are

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eventually destroyed.

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The whole book has 120 chapters, only 80 of which were written by Cao Xueqin

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before his death in 1764. Henry Bencraft Joly translated part of the book written by

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Cao. Book 1 contains the first 24 chapters.

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Total running time 7 9:20:40

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This LibriVox recording is in the public domain and may be reproduced, distributed or modified without

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permission. The LibriVox objective is to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in

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audioformat on the Internet. For more information, or to volunteer, please visit librivox.org. Cover designed by Availle.This design is in the public domain.

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