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Book 2

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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-yu, 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

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

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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 II contains chapter 25 - 56. A Book III was never published.

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Total running time 29:2 1:43

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