This book is the much-awaited English translation of Liu Zaifu’s book, Reflections on Dream of the Red Chamber. The book consists of three parts—reflections on Dream of the Red Chamber, comments on Dream of the Red Chamber, and discussions on Dream of the Red Chamber. There is also an appendix, “A Discussion of the Philosophy in Dream of the Red Chamber,” a speech delivered by Liu Zaifu at the Institute of Philosophy, Central University and at the Chinese Department of Tunghai University, Taiwan, in December 2005.
The first part comprises two hundred and four personal reflections on all aspects of Dream of the Red Chamber, the undisputed best traditional novel in China. The second part contains three essays on the spiritual value of the novel, the feeling of repentance and the transcendental philosophical viewpoint in the novel. The third part includes thirteen discussions of various characters and episodes in the novel. The appendix discusses the philosophy in the novel.
As the best traditional novel in Chinese literature, Dream of the Red Chamber has attracted a tremendous amount of critical attention over the last hundred years and has given rise to a scholarly field commonly referred to as “redology.”
In contrast to the works on the novel by other scholars, Liu’s book stands out with its personal, intuitive approach. Instead of engaging himself in evidential research, as many scholars in the field have done, Liu reflects on the spiritual orientation and the philosophical implications in the novel from a personal perspective. In so doing he infuses his reflections with his personal experience, his interpretations of works in Chinese literature and world literature, and his philosophical views. Influenced by Zen, Liu’s book makes a connection between Dream of the Red Chamber and real life as it exalts the values and philosophical understandings in the novel.
Reflections on Dream of the Red Chamber, with its highly original approach to its subject, will be an essential resource for English-speaking readers interested in the classical novel as well as those interested in contemporary literary criticism in China.