Dream of the Red Chamber (also Red Chamber Dream, Hung Lou Meng or A Dream of Red Mansions) (traditional Chinese: 紅樓夢; simplified Chinese: 红楼梦;), originally The Story of the Stone, is a masterpiece of Chinese literature and one of the Chinese Four Great Classical Novels. It was composed in the mid 18th century during the Qing Dynasty, attributed to Cao Xueqin (Chinese: 曹雪芹). The work has brought about the field of Redology and is generally acknowledged as the highest peak of the classical Chinese novels.
The novel is believed to be semi-autobiographical, mirroring the fortunes of Cao's own family. As the author details in the first chapter, it is intended to be a memorial to the women he knew in his youth: friends, relatives and servants.
The novel is remarkable not only for its huge cast of characters (most of them female) and psychological scope, but also for its precise and detailed observation of the life and social structures typical of 18th-century Chinese aristocracy. It is also one of the world's first feminist novel.
This novel was published anonymously (but later revealed to be by Cao Xueqin). This is because of the literary inquisition prevalent in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
[Notes on ebook edition. H. Bencraft Joly translated only the work of the first author, essentially two-thirds of the whole; the work ends abruptly at the end of volume II as if he intended to go on, but the third volume was never published.