Hong Lou Meng (Dream of the Red Chamber), a novel in 120 chapters, was written in the mid-eighteenth century during the Qing Dynasty. Since then it has been immensely popular among readers around the world. There are no fewer than 400 charac ters introduced in this novel. Hong Lou Meng describes in detail the life of a rich family and the complicated human relations between its members and their many servants and others. Herbert A. Giles in A History of Chinese Literature ca lled it an "original and effective love story", while Chi-chen Wang in his translation Dream of the Red Chamber introduced it as "the first realistic novel in Chinese". There have been a number of controversial issues surrounding this popular cla ssic , such as its authorship, editions, historical background, and its real theme. These issues have been subject to different interpretations and debates in the scholarly world for the past decades. Two articles written on these issues by Professor Davi d Steelman are : An Introduction to Editions of the Red Chamber and PiBen.
We are very thankful to Professor David Steelman of Soochow University in Taiwan for permitting us to use his Electronic Variorum Red Chamber(in Chinese) . The original electronic text can be accessed at : http://www.scu.edu.tw/english/faculty/steelman/hlmv001.htm. We are indebted to Professor Steelman for his generosity,patience, understanding and support. Only Chapter One is available at this time the remaining Chapters will be added as we r eceive and process them.
Hong Lou Meng has been translated into many languages in addition to English. What we are providing here is Edward Charles Bowra's English translation and his introduction to the novel published in the China Magazine in 1868. The only c hanges we did to the translation were to replace Mr.Bowra's transliteration of Chinese names with PinYin. (Mr. Bowra translated Chapter 1-8 and they were published in the Magazine from 1868 to 1869).
Our electronic version of the Hong Lou Meng is tagged in Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), according to Text Encoding Initiative(TEI) standards, and converted to HTML on the fly for display on the Web. The Chinese text is in Big5 encoding. We are working on an interactive search engine in the meantime you can use the "find" function built into most web browsers to search the text.