Book Review: The Dream of Red Mansions

I choose to recommend The Dream of Red Mansions, which is a very classical Y.A Literature in China. This book was written by Xueqin Cao in  1791 with ancient proses. This book includes 120 chapters and 975 characters, which create a big, complex and completed world for audiences. From 1791 until 2017, the authors revise several editions for children, adolescent, and adult with current proses or different languages, like English, Spanish, French, etc.

The whole book talks about the big family rise and fall, the complex relationship between different characters, and the culture of Chinese poetry and bureaucratism. The family of Jia is a very rich, flourishing and promising family in that dynasty, who has the connection not only with the richest family in that time but also with the royal family. Baoyu is the main character of this book, who is the grandson in Jia’s family, and everyone respect and takes care of him. Therefore, he is spoiled, who always play with the girls in the home, does not have the ambitions to work for this family and this country based on their rich and flourishing conditions, which is the most important reason of the fall of this family. This book describes the daily life and love stories between Baoyu and other female characters, they always write poems, enjoy the flower and hold a banquet during their daily life. At the peakedness of this family, most males are the very important government officers, their daughter is the imperial concubine, and most females are the beneficiary ladies. However, because of the corrupt bureaucratism, lacking ambitions and abilities, and squander wantonly. This family was fall finally. Some people are accused, some of them are helpless, and the rest of them are abandoned by this society. In the end, this family is no longer exist, which is also like the fall and rise of the dynasty. 

I recommend this book, because of several reasons. First, this book includes so many wonderful and great poems, which could show how perfect the Chinese culture and Chinese poem are. Because this book was written with ancient proses, most poems come from that time, which is very authentic and classical.  Therefore, when we read this book, we could learn some writing skills and cultures. For example, “Her mist-wreathed brows at first seemed to frown, yet were not frowning; Her passionate eyes at first seemed to smile, yet were not merry.” This is the sentence to describe how beautiful the main female character Daiyu is. Those great poem and sentences provide so many aesthetic scenes for readers.

Second, this book includes several values about love. First is the love for everything in this world, Baoyu and Daiyu love all of animals and plants, they feel sad for out of bloom, and they treat their slaves as the family. Second is the love between friends and couples. There are several couples in this film, even they do not talk about love, but we still can feel that they care of each other, they worried about each other, and they love each other. Even when Daiyu died, she never says she loves Baoyu, but their love story becomes the very classical love in people’s mind. We know after Daiyu died, Baoyu becomes a monk in the temple. The third love is the love for family and country, in Jia’s family, they think the family’s honor or disgrace is the supreme, they are proud they are one of this family. Therefore, when their family fall and break, most people cannot accept it. I mention the love for the country because this family is also the portrayal of a country and a dynasty, which means people have the same feelings.

Furthermore, my favorite character in this literature is Baochai Xue, who is the granddaughter in the family of Jia. She is very knowledgeable about the poem, she has very high EQ, which means she can take care of everyone’s feelings, she is very tolerant, sensible and selfless. She is also a very smart girl, who has the idea of management and politics. Finally, she married to Baoyu, even they don’t have a very happy ending, but she still did everything for Baoyu, and help him to achieve his dream.

In the end, I think this is a very great Y.A literature. First, adolescents can learn the skills of writing poems from this book; second, they can know the Chinese cultures from the book, like the culture of eating, dynasty, some ceremonies, and festivals. Third, they can learn some values about love, family, friendship even bureaucratism from this book. Last. this book pays more attention to female, in the book, Baoyu considers the female is made by water, but the male is made by clay, we could find how the status of woman is high-ranking in this film, which shows the idea of sexual equality. In that period, this is the first literature to support sexual equality, which is so advanced and meaningful. Therefore, I think this Y. A literature is so beneficial for adolescents.

Works Cited

你没见过的英译版《红楼梦》唯美经典诗词,必须收藏!. (2019). Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Dream of Red Mansions

  1. I really appreciate you deep insight into the book.But I suppose that the most important reason of the fall of that family is not Jia.Actually you can see that Baoyu’s relatives are not that good either.So I think that there might be some deeper reasons.

    • True, I think it is because of the political stand. Both from Cao Zhan’s personal experience and the plot of Jia Yuanchun paying her visit to her parents or elders, we could see that the family of Jia is supporting the former emperior. However, the emperior passed away and the family of Jia was abandoned by the new emperior.

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