One of China's Four Great Classical Novels, "The Dream of the Red Chamber" is perhaps the greatest novel written in the Chinese vernacular. Its authorship is attributed to Cao Xueqin, who lived sometime from the early to mid-eighteenth century. Little is known of Cao Xueqin, except from what was passed down from his contemporaries and friends. An intelligent and artistic man, known for both his poetry and his paintings, Xueqin spent a decade working diligently on "The Dream of the Red Chamber". The result is a wonderfully vivid story of the powerful rise, and subsequent fall, of the Jia clan, an illustrious family representative of the eighteenth century Chinese aristocracy. The novel is said to be semi-autobiographical, and is noted for its detailed observations of the social classes, as well as its deeply psychological explorations of themes like morality, feudalism and Confucianism, sexual deviance, fraternal jealousies, and the unwillingness to grow up. It is a timeless story that will continue to be revered by readers the world over.
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