In the appreciation of a major work of literature such as the Dream of the
Red Chamber, there is a great number of fields to be explored. One wants
to examine the question of authorship and study the historical period which
produced the work. But these are peripheral areas, the study of which only
serves to aid in the major work at hand which is to understand what the
work is saying on a literal level before attempting to explore its deeper
significance and its artistry. This first step, understanding on the literal
level, is of obvious importance (for what can be said about a work if it
remains unintelligible on the most basic level) but, unfortunately most
often neglected. One of the reasons for this is perhaps the fact that a work
is usually best understood on the literal level during the period in which
it was written, but with the passage of time and changes in linguistic habits
and social customs, the literal meaning becomes obscured so gradually that
it is not noticeable in the span of a generation. Thus no one notices the
problem until it is escalated to major proportions or until an important
point of interpretation is found to revolve about the meaning of a particular
world or phrase.
Take for example a small problem in chapter 41 in which we find the sentence: 你又趕來撤茶吃. What exactly is the meaning of the word 撤? The modern annotated edition explains this as 蹭. Is this what was actually meant? What basis did the annotator have for deciding on this interpretation? Who was the annotator and when did he produce his annotations? Are there any other versions of the Red Chamber which contain variant readings at this point? The Geng Chen manuscript reads 飺茶吃, the You Zheng edition reads 作什麼. Existing dictionaries do not give a definition of either 飺or 撤 which fits the text at this point. The You Zheng edition is quite different from the other editions.
How did this line come to be so radically altered there ? In the novel Emperor Qian Lung’s Journey to the South（乾隆皇帝有江南）we find the word 撤. Here it appears to have a meaning quite different from 蹭. Perhaps the peripheral study of language in contemporaneous works will reveal the meaning of this word in the mid 18th century and allow for a definitive interpretation.
This apparently trivial point is introduced as merely one example of the many textual problems that exist in the Dream of the Red Chamber. Over 200 years after the appearance of this masterpiece, there is still no definitive edition of the novel. The most readable of all editions (especially for those reading the novel for the first time) in one of the popular modern commercial editions available on the market. But both the lay reader and the specialist alike await a true definitive edition. In view of the confusion that exists on the subject of editions of the Red Chamber, I have attempted to prepare this introduction for those who do not want to spend the time to wade through the mass of data available on the subject.
There is an unbelievably large number of editions of the Red Chamber. The Red Chamber Bibliography is the most complete listing to date, however, two new bibliographies will be appearing this year which will enlarge the bibliographical data available under one cover. There are also many special studies on particular editions. In order to sift information into a readily digestible form, I have divided editions into the following categories: I. Manuscripts antedating the first movable type edition.
II. Lost manuscripts mentioned in other works which antedate the first movable type edition.
III. Early movable type editions of Cheng-Gao vintage.
IV. Annotated editions which post-date the first movable type edition.
V. Lost editions mentioned in other works which post-date the first movable type edition.
VI. Modern commercial editions.
VII. Variorum editions.
Due to limitations of time and space, I have hot treated here lost editions (categories II and V) and only briefly touched on the topic of modern commercial editions.
a. The Jia Xu (甲戌) Manuscript
This is a fragmentary ZhiYan Zhai Re-annotated Story of the Stone (脂硯齋
重評石頭記) of sixteen chapters. Originally an 80 chapter version, there
remain only chapters 1-8, 13-14, and 25-28. The manuscript is determined
to be a transmitted copy on the basis of the following:
1.[ Incorrect characters assumed to be copyist’s errors.
2. Mispositioning of commentary in relation to the text.
3. Annotations by different persons all copied in the same hand.
4. A note in the upper margin at the end of chapter 13 reads:
“There are only 10 pages in this chapter due to the removal of the TianXiang Lou episode. That reduced it by four or five pages.”
In this manuscript chapter 13 contains eleven pages instead of ten.
The name Jia Xu MS. is derived from the fact that this manuscript contains a line in the text of chapter one saying, “When ZhiYan Zhai copied and annotated for the second time in the year jia xu (1754), the title Story of the Stone was again used.” Some object to using the appellation Jia Xu for this manuscript on the grounds that it suggest that the MS. dates form 1754, however, the name is widely used and probably will continue to be, so it is perhaps sufficient to note that there are no grounds for assuming that this MS. or its exemplar date from 1754.
The manuscript was discovered in Shanghai in 1927 and purchased by Dr. Hu Shih. Zhou RuChang hand copied the MS. in 1948. Three microfilm copies were made in 1951. One was given to the Columbia University library and another to C. C. Wang. The third Hu Shih kept but later gave to Lin Yu-tang. In 1941 Hu Shih made the MS. available in a two-color photo-reprint through the Taiwan Commercial Press in an issue of 1,500 copies. In 1962 a second edition of the reprint was issued. The same year the Beijing ZhongHua Book Co. Issued a two-color photo-reprint made from Hu Shih’s reprint. In 1977 the GuangWen Book Co. Of Taipei issued a reprint. The HongYe Book Co. Of Taipei just announced another reprint.
There are double column interlinear, intralinear, and top margin annotations in addition to commentary at the beginning and end of chapters. The ZhiYan annotations for each chapter existing in this MS. are far greater than those in any other ZhiYan MS. and there are many important commentaries that cannot be found elsewhere.
Of especial interest in this MS. is the inclusion of the opening paragraphs of chapter one of the modern edition in a long preface. Also commentary at the end of chapter 13 reveals that an episode describing Qin KoQing’ s death at the TianXiang pavilion was omitted at the insistence of the commentator.
b. The Ji Mao (己卯) Manuscript
This is a 38 chapter version of the ZhiYan Zhai Re-annotated Story of the Stone held in the Beiping Library. It contains chapters 1-20, 31-40, 61-63, 65-66, and 68-70. In 1959 the last half of chapter 55, chapters 56_58, and the first half of chapter 59 were discovered. At the end of chapter 34 is written, “End of chapter 34 of the Dream of the Red Chamber” (紅樓夢三 十四回終) showing that the Dream of the Red Chamber was once the title of the book during the lifetime of Cao XueQin. Most of the commentary is in double column interlinear style. There are only a few places where there is intralinear annotation. This intralinear commentary does not exist in other MSS. As in the Geng Chen MS., chapters 17 and 18 r not separated. There is not tile couplet for chapter 19. Chapters 64 and 67 are missing. From this it can be seen that it is possible that the Geng Chen and Ji Mao MSS. Came from a common exemplar. More information on this MS. is contained in the preface to the photo-reprint of the MS.
c. The Geng Chen (庚辰) Manuscript
This is a 78 chapter version of the ZhiYan Zhai Re-annotated Story of the
Stone now held in the library of Beijing University. This was originally
an 80 chapter MS. but is missing chapters 64 and 67. It has double column
interlinear and side and top margin annotations in addition to commentary
at the beginning and end of chapters. The MS. was discovered in Beijing
in 1933. In 1955 a black and red two-color photo-reprint of this MS. was
made in reduced size. The two missing chapters were supplied from the Ji
Mao MS. (A later addition, based on the Cheng-Kao version. These two chapters
were not originally in the Ji Mao MS.) A new photo reprint was issued in
1974 correcting errors in the old reprint and
supplying these two missing
chapters from the Wang Fu MS. (王府本).
The Geng Cheng MS. is one of the more complete ZhiYan Zhai MSS. In this MS. chapters 17 and 18 have not been separated. There is no title couplet for chapter 19. Chapter 20 is incomplete. The Mid-autumn poem (中秋詩) is missing from chapter 75, and chapter 80 has to title couplet.
The reprints have been reissued by WenYuan, LianYa, GuangWen, and HongYe Book Companies of Taipei. Old and new reprints can be identified by comparing chapters 64 and 67.
d. The You Zheng (有正) Edition.
This is a lithograph edition published by the You Zheng Book Co. (上海有
正書局) of the Story of the Stone with a preface by Qi Liao Sheng (戚蓼生
序本石頭記). There are 80 chapters of text with interlinear annotations
and commentary before and after chapters. At the beginning of the first
volume is a preface by Qi Liao Sheng. The text, annotations, and format
show this to be a ZhiYan edition. The original MS. for this edition was a
Qian Long MS. held by Qi Liao Sheng which was acquired sometime in the Guang
Xu period (1875-1908) by Yu MingZhen (俞明震) and later came into the hands
of Di BaoXian (狄葆賢), the proprietor of the You Zheng Book Co., who used
ti to make a lithograph large-character edition in 1912 and a reduced-size
photo reprint in 1920 (reissued in 1927). The large-character edition has
been reprinted by the Student Book Co. and GuangWen Co. of Taipei.
The original MS. for the You Zheng reprint was thought to have been destroyed by fire, but in 1975 the Shanghai Book Co. discovered chapters 1-40 in its storehouse. This MS. is sometimes referred to as the Qi Hu MS. (戚滬本).
Of special interest in this edition are the commentary before and after chapters and the text of chapters 67 and 68. The state of these chapters give an idea of what drastic revision the novel went through before reaching its present form. Some of the changes are intriguing and bewildering but also show decidedly that the later versions of these chapters are artistically far superior to the You Zheng version. Wang XiFeng’s interrogation of Wanger and Xinger in chapter 67, for example, lacks the dramatic intensity and humor that it attains in later versions. The revision to this episode is quite extensive and deserves a very close, detailed comparison. The You Zheng version probably reflects the form of an early draft. Neither the Jia Su, Geng Cheng, Ji Mao, Ji You, nor Zheng Cang MSS. contain this chapter. It is already heavily revised in the Red Chamber Draft MS. (h.).
Chapter 68 contains a long speech by Wang XiFeng which is written in a more literary style quite out of keeping with her normal style of speech. In the You Zheng edition, parts of this speech have been marked out and revisions inserted in the margin making it more colloquial. The text and revisions of this speech in the Red Chamber Draft MS. (h.) are almost identical to those of the You Zheng edition.
e. The Wang Fu (王府) Manuscript
This is a 120 chapter version of the Story of the Stone from the collection of a Mongolian Prince (清蒙古王府藏抄本石頭記). The first 80 chapters are almost the same as the You Zheng edition. This MS. has double column interlinear annotations and commentary at the beginning and end of chapters which is mainly the same as the You Zheng edition, but there are also many annotations that are not to be foun d in the You Zheng edition. In addition, there are over 600 lines of intralinear annotation annotations that are not found in other MS. the MS. was discovered in the China Book Co. of the famed LiuLi Chang (琉璃廠) district of Beijing between 1960 and 196 1 and is now housed in the Beiping Library.
f. The Jia Chen (甲辰) Manuscript
This is a complete 80 chapter version of the Dream of the Red chamber with a preface by MengJue ZhuRen (夢覺主人序本紅樓夢). It was discovered in ShanXi (山西) province and is now held in the Beiping Library. The exemplar for this MS. was close to the Jia Xu MS. but the text has been altered in a great many places. The Red Chamber Draft MS. (h.) follows most of these variations. The amount of ZhiYan commentary carried over from the exemplar was greatly reduced in this MS.
g. The Ji You (己酉) Manuscript
This was originally and 80 chapter version of the Dream of the Red Chamber with a preface by Shu YuanWei (舒元煒序本紅樓夢). There now remain only chapters 1-40. The preface by Shu YuanWei is dated 1789 (乾隆五十四年己酉 ). The text is of the ZhiYan family but is has been altered and there are no annotations.
h. The Red Chamber Draft Manuscript
This is a 120 chapter version of the Dream of the Red Chamber (乾隆抄本百
廿回紅樓夢). The end of chapter 78 has “read by LanShu” in red characters
(蘭墅閱過). LanShu was the zi of Gao E. The MS. was once held by Yang JiZhen
(楊繼振). After its discovery in 1959 it went into the holding of the China
Institute of Science where it still remains. In 1963, a photo reprint was
issued which was reprinted by the Linking (聯經) Publishing Co. of Taipei
in 1977. Reprints have also been issued by TianWen and GuangWen Book Companies of Taipei.
Wang SanQing (王三慶) states that this MS. antedated the Cheng Jia (程甲 ) edition.
Chen QingHao (陳慶浩) terms this a conflated MS saying the last 40 chapters were a later addition to the MS. and chapters 41-50 were supplied form the Cheng-Gao edition. In addition, chapters 10, 11, 20, 21, 24, 40, 51, 60, 61, 71, and 80-100 have all had missing gaps filled. These are marked beginning and end by Yang’s seal. Yu Ping-bo says that these additions are all form the Cheng Jia edition.
i. The Qi Ning Manuscript
This is a Story of the Stone MS. from the Nanjing Library (南京圖書館藏本
石頭記). There are 80 chapters on white, unlined paper in excellent calligraphy.
Some believe it was copied from the original MS. used for the You Zheng edition (俞藏原本) before the You Zheng edition was published. Others think this MS. and the original for the You Zheng edition were derived from a common ancestor making them parallel in development.
j. The Jing Cang (靖藏) Manuscript
this MS. was discovered in 1959 in Nanjing by Mao GuoYao (毛國瑤) who made notes on variations from the You Zheng edition for several scholars. Later, the manuscript disappeared. The manuscript was an 80 chapter version of the Story of the Stone from the collection of Jing YingKun (靖應□（昆鳥） 藏抄本石頭記). Chapters 28 and 29 and three pages from chapter 30 were missing from the MS. 150 lines of annotation in 39 chapters that were not found in the You Zheng edition were listed in the notes. These are listed in Collected Commentary.
k. The Zheng Cang (鄭藏) Manuscript
This is a fragment of an 80 chapter version of the Dream of the Red Chamber held by C. T. Cheng (鄭振鐸藏抄本紅樓夢) of which there remain only chapters 23 and 24. The text is of the ZhiYan family but it has been altered and there are no annotations.
l. The Leningrad Manuscript
This is an 80 chapter version of the Story of the Stone held in the Leningrad branch of the Soviet Asian People’s Research Institute. Chapters 5 and 6 are missing. The top margin and intralinear annotations are completely different from other ZhiYan MSS. the double column interlinear commentary is in the main the same as the Geng Cheng MS. This MS. is described in an article by Pan ChongGui. Collected Commentary uses Pan’s notes for the interlinear annotations. The intralinear and top margin commentary (also from Pan’s notes) is included in an appendix.
Information on the history of the first movable type editions is at present in as confusing a state as that on manuscripts. The earliest edition seems to be an edition published by the CuiWen () Book Co. of Beijing in 1791. In a preface, Cheng WeiYuan (程偉元) claims to have discovered manuscripts containing the last 40 chapters and with the editorial services of Gao E (高鶚) revised and printed this 120 chapter edition. His original preface runs thus:
The novel, the Dream of the Red Chamber, was originally entitle the Story of the Stone, authorship is variously attributed, but who actually wrote the book is uncertain. There is only the mention in the novel itself that Cao XueQin revised it several times. Some make copies and sell them in the temple markets at high prices and thus many have come to know of the book. But the original had a table of contents listing 120 chapters while copies today contain only 80 chapters. Obviously they are not complete. Even those that claim to be complete, upon reading are found to contain only 80 chapters. It is a source of great disappointment to readers. I felt that if there was a 120 chapter table of contents, there must also be a complete 120 chapter text. So I began a dedicated search which included everything from book collectors to scrap heaps. After several years I had found only 20 some chapters. By chance one day I found 10 some chapters with a door to door purchaser and bought them at a high price. Happily when I read them, I found that the chapters fit together but, unfortunately, a great many places were illegible. So a friend and I carefully edited the book cutting out excesses and filling in deficiencies. A copy was made of the complete book form which plates were carved so the book could be made available to others who are fond of it. And that is how the complete Dream of the Red Chamber first came into existence. With the book completed, I write this to tell all how it came to be. Those who share my enthusiasm for the novel will perhaps be pleased to now be able to read it in its entirety.
Dating of Cheng-Gao editions has in the past been based on the prefaces.
Some editions have two prefaces (序), the above quoted by Cheng WeiYuan
and one by Gao E. The latter is dated 1791 (乾隆五十六年辛亥). Other editions
contain in addition another preface (引言) by Gao E dated 1792 (任子花朝
Some confusion is introduced when the various editions are referred to as the Cheng Jia edition (程甲), Cheng Yi edition (程乙), Cheng Bing editions (程丙), and Cheng Ding edition (程丁). When Dr. Hu Shih first discovered there were two different editions, he labeled one the Cheng Jia edition and the other the Cheng Yi edition. Later when Zhao Gang discovered the edition held by Hu TianLie (胡天獵藏本) was different, he called it the Cheng Yi edition and referred to Hu Shih’s edition (hitherto called the Cheng Yi edition) as the Cheng Bing edition. When the Xu brothers discovered a fourth edition in the Taiwan University library, they called it the Cheng Yi edition and referred to the Hu TianLie edition as the Cheng Bing edition and Hu Shih’s edition as the Cheng Ding edition. At present there is still no exhaustive comparison of textual variations in Cheng-Gao editions.
a. The Cheng Jia (程甲) Edition
This edition is attributed to 1791 vintage and shows the following differences from the Cheng Jia edition:
1. Chapter one, chapters 31-90 and chapter 114 have been revised.
2. Title couplets have been revised for some chapters.
3. The Cheng preface and some of the illustrations seem to have been printed from different plates.
A copy of this edition is held in the National Taiwan University library (文學院聯合圖書室). This appears to be the edition used for the GuangWen photo reprint of the Cheng Yi edition (程乙本新鐫全部繡像紅樓夢). The major variations among this edition and the Cheng Yi, Cheng Bing, and Cheng Ding editions is discussed in an article by Xu RenCun and Xu YouWei.
c. The Cheng Bing (程丙) Edition
This edition is attributed to 1792 vintage and shows revision in chapters
1-30. Chapters 31-60 and 71-75 are the same as the Cheng Yi edition. The
remaining chapters are the same as the Cheng Jia edition. Title couplets
are in the main the same as the Cheng Yi edition.
The difference between this edition and the Cheng Jia and Hu Shih's
editions was first pointed out by Zhao Gang in an article in New Researches
into the Dream of the Red Chamber.
This edition was held by Hu TianLie and reprinted in 1941 (青石山莊影印本 ). The original is rumored to have been sold to an American library. In 1977 the GuangWen Book Co. issued a photo reprint under the title of the Cheng Bing Edition (程丙本新鐫全部繡像紅樓夢).
d. The Cheng Ding (程丁) Edition
The Xu brothers date this edition 1793 (乾隆五十八年癸丑). Originally in
the possession of Dr. Hu Shih, it was borrowed by the YaDong Library to
be used in making the revised 1927 YaDong edition
No information seems to be available on the whereabouts of Hu’s original
Chapters 91-120 show new revisions. Chapters 1-90 reflect the revisions of the Cheng Yi and Cheng Bing editions. One page missing from the Cheng Yi and Cheng Bing editions (chapter 47, p. 11-12) has been restored. The 1927 YaDong edition contains a preface by Hu Shih (重印乾隆任子本紅樓 夢) and a description of some variations between the Cheng Jia and the Cheng Ding editions by Wang YuanFang (汪原放〈紅樓夢校讀後記〉). Hu’s preface mentions a manuscript purchased by Rong Geng (容庚) which on the basis of a comparison of one line of text Hu Shih stated to be the same as his copy. In Wang’s preface (p. 37) he notes a variation between Rong’s MS. and Hu’s copy. I have not been able to locate any information on the whereabouts of this MS. or whether or not any detailed comparison was ever made between it and the Cheng Ding edition.
Suffice it to say at this point that the history of Cheng-Gao editions is anything but clear and there is a definite need for more information on editions (or copies) and an exhaustive comparison of all textual variations in Cheng-Gao editions.
It seems that contemporary Redologist have placed little value on later
annotated editions but the importance of these works should not be underestimated.
If the long overdue and necessary history of Red Chamber studies is ever compiled, these annotations will have to be treated as reflecting individual approaches to the study of the Red Chamber just the same as any other separately published study. There seems to be a trend to view such works as unworthy of attention since they are not of ZhiYan Zhai vintage and their authors cannot boast of personal ac quaintance with Cao XueQin. But if such a view is to be accepted, those writers who advocate it are condemning their own works to oblivion since they are even more distantly removed form personal contact with Cao.
If one draws a parallel with Shakespearean studies, it is readily apparent that the further one is removed from the customs and language of the period of composition of a work, the more problems of interpretation will arise. An obvious example is an interpretation contained in a modern discussion of the Red Chamber in regard to the death of Lin DaiYu. The author maintained that the matriarch was grossly unjustified in withdrawing her favor from her granddaughter since the girl had done nothing worse than fall in love and that was no sin. In terms of modern Taipei, perhaps, love (自由戀愛) is no sin, but during the Qing dynasty it most certainly was. It is quite an untenable proposition to evaluate actions in one period on the basis of mores of another.
Another example of misinterpretation which arose perhaps because of spatial as well as temporal distance was contained in a newspaper article. The author of the article maintained that the second sister You’s (尤二姐) beauty was seriously blemished by her chewing betel nuts. He confessed himself unable to understand how a man could be attracted to a woman chewing like a cow with red spittle trickling out of the corners of her mouth. In fact, however, the betel nut in Beijing, in contrast to contemporary Taiwan, was dried and sliced to be chewed delicately after meals as an aid to digestion. The above interpretations are obviously absurd but should serve as examples to point out the nature of certain problems of textual interpretation. These annotators, being closer to the time and place of composition of the Red Chamber, can be most useful I elucidating obscure passages. Another advantage is that these annotators had an educational background more similar to the author’s than does the contemporary reader. In a sophisticated literary work like the Dream of the Red Chamber where an understanding of the author's literary background is so important for catching the subtle innuendoes of the novel, simply notin g that a passage is underscored by the annotator may be sufficient to make the modern reader realize the importance of a phrase or line and lead him to search for an explanation of its significance.
Although annotators may have their personal obsessions (e.g., Yin-yang and five-element symbolism, roman a lef interpretations, fixing the novel in historical time, etc.) they all deal to a certain extent with textual interpretation and literary criticism. A Key to the Red Chamber (紅樓夢索隱) is a case in point. Most Red Chamber aficionados who are not devotees of the roman a lef school of interpret ation (索隱派) would never dream of reading the Key in the mistaken belief that there is nothing else to be found in the book besides historical links. The book, however, contains some delightfully enlightening excursion into pure literary interpretation. For example, in the episode “BaoYu Tastes Tea at the Lung Cui Hermitage” (寶哥哥品茶櫳 翠庵) after giving tea to BaoChai and DaiYu, MiaoYu give a cup to BaoYu. The text reads:
Then again as the last time, she poured tea for BaoYu in the green jade cup she normally used herself.
DaMei ShanMin (大某山民) observes at this point:
Some say this is the first time BaoYu tasted tea at the hermitage, however, the word “again” gives one much to ponder, not to mention the words “as the last time” .
Wang XiLian (王希廉) makes no comment on this scene but in the Key we get
an entire essay delightfully well written to boot.
At this point the Key has just pointed out MiaoYu’s inconsistency when she wants to discard a cup she has never used because it has been touched by old Liu’s (劉姥姥) lips. The Key goes on to point out the baffling reaction of BaoYu to receiving MiaoYu’s cup. BaoYu says, “They get priceless antiques and you give me this common thing?!” The Key explains that BaoYu makes this rather offensive co mment (quite out of keeping for him) I an attempt to cover up MiaoYu’s blunder in giving her personal cup to BaoYu (which implies intimacy and affection) in the presence of his two alert cousins. Fearing that one of the cousins might notice and make emba rrassing comments, BaoYu attempts a diversion.
TaiPin XianRen (太平閑人) with his affection for symbolism, finds hidden meaning in the names of the cups handed to BaoChai and DaiYu. Such interpretations cannot help but heighten the modern reader’s appreciation of this significant scene. It is hoped that more attention will be devoted to later annotated editions for their work I illuminating the artistry of the Red Chamber.
a. The Jia Qing (嘉慶) Edition
This is a second DongGuanGe edition (東觀閣重刊本) published in 1811 (嘉 慶十六年) with the addition of commentary. The commentary is evidently not related to the ZhiYan commentary. Very little information on this edition is available. I have only seen two descriptions, one in the Red Chamber Bibliography and the other, a description of the copy held I the British Museum, in Liu Ts’un-yan’s Chinese Popular Fiction in Two London Libraries.
Since the commentary is not of ZhiYan vintage, it seems to have attracted no interest. However, since this is the earliest of the later annotated editions and would be valuable in evaluating early critical approaches to the novel, it is hoped that this edition will eventually arouse some interest and perhaps even be reprinted.
b. The Wang XiLian (王希廉) Annotated Edition
This edition was published in 1832 (道光十二年) by the ShuangQing XianGuan (雙清仙館). There is a general essay and commentary at the end of each chapter. This commentary was widely used in later editions appearing at the ends of chapters. It is usually identified as HuHua ZhuRen commentary (護花主人評). Modern reprints containing this commentary include The Story of the Stone issued by Taiwan Commercial Press, Jin Yu Yuan (金玉緣) issued by the FengHuang Publishing Co., and a Key to the Red Chamber issued by Taiwan ZhongHua Book Co. A single volume containing only the HuHua ZhuRen commentary was issued by the XinWenFeng Book Co. In 1980.
c. The MiaoFu Studio (妙復軒) Annotated Edition
This edition was published in 1881 (光緒七年) by the HuNan WoYun ShanGuan (湖南臥雲山館). The commentator, Zhang XinZhi (張新之), uses the sobriquet of TaiPing XianRen (太平閑人). The book contains an introductory essay entitle “An approach to the Red Chamber” (紅樓夢讀法). There is a double column interlinear commentary and commentary at the ends of chapters. The Guest Oriental Library of Princeton University has a microfilm copy of this edition. The commentary in the photo reprint of Jin Yu Yuan is the TaiPing XianRen commentary. The commentator’s preoccupation with Yin-yang (陰陽) and five-elements (五行) symbolism perhaps lessens the appeal of the commentary for the modern reader however from the standpoint of literary criticism and interpretation it is very useful.
d. The Yao Xie (姚燮) Annotated Edition
Although he died in 1864, the earliest listed printed version of Yao Xie’s
(sobriquet: 大某山民) commentary is a GuangXu (光緒, 1875-1908) edition
issued by the GuangBaiSong Studio of Shanghai (上海廣百宋齋). This edition,
entitle the Annotated Illustrated Story of the Stone (增平補圖石頭記), also
contains Wang XiLian’s commentary and introductory essay and TaiPing XianRen's
“Approach to the Red Chamber”. Yao Xie’s commentary consists of single
column interlinear annotations, upper margin annotations, and commentary
at the end of chapters. This collected commentary version appeared in many
different editions and was popular up to 1949.
There are two modern reprints. One, entitle The Story of the Stone, is a reprint by the Taiwan Commercial Press of the 1930 edition printed by the Commercial Press in Shanghai. The other, a 1972 reprint by the GuangWen Book Co. Entitle The Dream of the Red Chamber (精批補圖大某山民評本紅樓夢 ), is a photocopy of a 1927 lead type edition published by the GuangYi Book Co. (廣益書局) of Shanghai.
Although Yao Xie devotes a great deal of attention to the problem of time in the Red Chamber, his comments on the subject of techniques are most interesting.
He also shows much penetrating insight into the characters and the novel as a work of art. His commentary marks a very important stage in the development of Red Chamber criticism.
There is some evidence of corruption of the commentary under the hands of the editors. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a manuscript version extant.
e. A Key to the Red Chamber (紅樓夢索隱)
This contains the complete text of the ChengJia edition with commentary by Wang MengRuan (王夢阮) and Shen PingAn (沈瓶庵). It was first published in 1914 and is currently available from the Taiwan ZhongHua Book Co. (台 灣中華書局). The primary concern of the commentary is to show the Red Chamber as a roman a lef revolving around the central characters of the ShunZhi emperor (順治) and his concubine Dong E (董鄂). However, those not in sympathy with this school of interpretation will still find much enlightening commentary in this edition.
The Red Chamber Bibliography list over sixty commercial editions and is
far from exhaustive. One of the forthcoming new bibliographies will greatly
expand the list. Due to limitations of time and space I will not attempt
to list any commercial editions here but I would like to make some suggestions on the subject which, I feel, would make such a bibliography more useful
for the purpose of compiling a publication history for the Red Chamber.
Such a bibliography should contain all published editions beginning with
the Cheng Jia edition. This would involve some repetition since Cheng-Gao
editions, some later annotated editions, and variorum editions would be
included. However, no detailed descriptions would be necessary, just basic
publication data. A note on which editions or MSS. The commercial edition
was based on would be helpful. Unfortunately, commercial editions rarely
contain any prefatory remarks on editorial policy.
It seems that a considerable amount of time is required for editorial improvement as the results of scholarship to reach publishers as a group. It may be noted that although the Cheng-Gao editions went through at least four revisions, many commercial edit ions were still based on the ChengJia edition up until after the founding of the Republic.
I have checked reading from a random selection of currently available popular editions for a particular line from chapter 13. When the news of Qin KeQing’ s death is transmitted through the Jia mansions, the general reaction is described. Three editions (三民、遠東、駱駝文庫) read: 無不納悶，都有些傷 心. One edition (大中國 which is a photo reprint of the Hong Kong 廣智 edition) reads: 無不納悶，都有些疑心. The 傷 (sad) was an understandable copy mistake carried over by the ChengJia edition but corrected to read 疑 (suspicious) I the ChengYi edition. That this is the correct reading, albeit strange, is verified by an annotation in the JiaXu MS. showing it to be a clue pointing to the death of Qin KeQing by hanging rather than by illness:
These nine characters tell the whole story of the TianXiang pavilion affair. It is writing without writing.
How many years have passed since this point was settled? Yet publishers are not aware of the fact. Before a definitive (or even respectable) edition can be put together, it will be necessary to compile a variorum edition showing both all textual variations up to at least the ChengDing edition and all points of interpretation up to the present.
At present no real variorum edition of the Red Chamber exists. Perhaps the
closet thing to it in print is the Conflated Eighty Chapter Dream of the
Red Chamber (紅樓夢八十回校本). This conflation uses the YouZheng edition
as a base and makes modifications on the basis of the JiaXu, JiMao, GengChen,
JiaChen, and ZhengCang MSS. And the ChengJia and ChengYi editions.
Appended to the conflated first 80 chapters is a list of textual
among the various MSS. and some variations of the Cheng-Gao editions. (A
systematic comparison of the Cheng-Gao editions and the manuscripts is not
given.) Following this are the last 40 chapters from the Cheng-Gao version.
The text of the Red Chamber published by the HuaZheng Book Co. (華正) is
the same as the conflation, however, it does not contain the list of textual
variations. As the editor states in the preface to the conflation, it is
far of ideal.
The task of producing a true variorum edition (containing textual variations of all existing MSS. And editions plus critical notes) is perhaps more than one man can be humanly expected to handle. If one edition (the ChengJia edition, for example) were accepted as a basis for comparison, separate studies of one or a part of an edition or MS. could in time be combined to show all textual variations. The task could, however, be best carried out through the cooperative effort of a group of people. At any rate the possibility of seeing a variorum edition in the not too distant future is perhaps slim at best.
Not a variorum edition itself but certainly a useful tool in compiling one is the Collected Commentary of ZhiYan Zhai (新偏石頭記脂硯齋評語輯校) compiled by Chen QingHao (陳慶浩). Chen’s book has gone through three revisions and was originally based on the work of another man. It is a very carefully prepared collection of commentary from the manuscripts available at the time of publication and no tes of scholars on not readily accessible manuscripts.
The introductory material and appendices are most valuable. Hopefully this work will continue to be expanded as new material becomes available. Other useful tools for compiling a variorum edition with notes are the modern annotated editions which explain obscure language. Many popular commercial editions contain notes which are all copied verbatim from an annotated edition which presumably appeared some time after the founding of the Republic, but before 1953. A second modern annotated edition issued under the Communist regime in 1972 contains a few additional notes (geared mainly to the lower standard of education) and rewording of existing notes in terms of current Communist jargon. Its value is negligible.
A Dictionary of Terms form Novels (小說詞語匯釋) will be a helpful tool in preparing notes for a variorum edition. However, it is far from adequate for dealing with the problem of archaic language and expressions in regional dialect.
A yet unpublished work which should be very useful in annotating a variorum edition is Regional Dialect in the Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢土語註 解) by Mu JinPan (穆津蕃). This study is the result of over 40 years of reading the Red Chamber as a novel and deals specifically with the problem of what the language in the novel means. It treats the meaning and origin of such obscure phrases as 貼燒餅. The importance of such works as this is evident when one considers how many colloquial expressions die out with each generation and go unrecorded. It will probably not be too many generations until the linguistic problems found in the Red Chamber reach proportions of those in Yuan drama unless a few of the older aficionados of the novel take the pains to record wha t they know.
3. The bibliographies are to be published by 學生書局 and 聯經出版事業公 司
4. My information on manuscripts has been based primarily on information in 《新編石頭記脂硯齋評語輯校》(hereafter referred to as Collected Commentary ),and an article entitled《紅樓夢版本淺談》my translation of which appeared in Thirty Years of Turmoil in Asian Literature, Taipei, 1976). I have added additional information from other sources but have followed the above two sources when there seemed no reason to do otherwise. Since footnoting each point would be tedious, let me here acknowledge my debt.
5. Collected commentary, p.5
6. see 潘重規《紅樓夢新辨》p. 108-115.
7. Hu Shih's account from his postscript to the reprint of the Jia Xu MS. relates that he had just returned from abroad when he received a letter saying that the owner was willing to relinquish his ZhiYan Zhai Re-annotated Story of the Stone to Dr. Hu. Hu, not believing at the time that the MS. was of value, failed to reply. Shortly thereafter, the owner of the MS., seeing an advertisement for the opening of Hu's bookstore, left the MS. at the bookstore for Hu's perusal. Hu's postscript continues, "In the summer of 1927 when I obtained this oldest extant Red Chamber MS., I noticed that a piece was torn off from the first page beneath the first three columns of text. This was an attempt to conceal from whose home the MS had come by destroying the imprint of the seal of the owner. At the time, I neglected to write down the name and address of the person selling the MS. and was not able to write to him. So I have no knowledge of the recent history of the MS."
8. 馮其庸〈影印《脂硯齋重評石頭記》 己卯本序 1981，上海古籍
9. Reissued by the ZhongHua Book Co., of Hong Kong in 1977.
11. An inscription at the beginning of the MS. by Yang JiZhen reads:蘭墅 太史手定紅樓夢稿百廿卷，內闕四十一至五十卷，據擺字本抄足.
12. Reprinted 1986 by Beijing ZhongHua Book Co.
13. 潘重規 <列寧格勒抄本紅樓夢中的雙行批>（《 紅樓夢研究專刊第十二輯》 和 《 紅樓夢六十年》 , 頁四一至五九.
14. Hu's Cheng Yi edition is now referred to as the Cheng Ding edition.
15. 〈紅樓夢版本的新發現〉 中外文學, May 1,1980 No.92(8-12)
16. Now called the Cheng Ding edition.
17. 紅樓夢新探， 頁二七三至二八九
18. Reprinted in Taipei by XinWenFeng(新文豐)1979 and GuangWen（廣文）in 1977.
19. 《紅樓夢索隱》vol.2,chapter 41,p.7.
21. 《倫敦所見中國小說書目提要》 p.178,321.
22. A photo reprint of this edition was issued by GuangWen Book Co.,Taipei,1977.
23. see《紅樓夢書目》 p.59-68 for descriptions fo manuscript and published versions.
24. see《紅樓夢卷》p.153-159 for the complete essay from the MiaoFu Stdio manuscript.
25. 《金玉緣》 鳳凰出版社, Taipei,1974.
26. At the time of publication of the conflated edition, the chengYi, ChengBing, and ChengDing editions were not differentiated; which ChengYi edition was used, I have been unable to determine.
27. 聯經出版事業公司 , Taipei, 1979.