The Story of the Stone
The Story of the Stone: Volume 4
Note on Spelling
. 1760), also known by the title of The Dream of the Red Chamber
, is the great novel of manners in Chinese literature.
Divided into five volumes, of which The Debt of Tears is the fourth, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author’s own family). The two main characters, Bao-yu and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humour, realistic detail and delicate poetry, which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. But over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence – a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.
Four young ladies go fishing and divine the future; Bao-yu receives a homily and is re-enrolled in the Family School
An old pedant tries to instil some Moral Philosophy into his incorrigible pupil; And the ailing Naiad, in a nightmare, confronts the spectres of her fevered mind.
An Indisposition in the Imperial Bedchamber calls for a Family Visitation; While insubordination in the inner apartments reveals Bao-chai's long-suffering nature
Bao-yu is given an impromptu examination, and his betrothal is discussed for the first time; Jia Huan visits a convulsive child, and old hostilites are resumed
It is announced that Jia Zheng has been promoted to the rank of Permanent Secretary; And it is discovered that Xue Pan has once more brought upon himself the threat of exile
Bribery induces an old mandarin to tamper with the course of justice; And a discourse on the Qin provides a young lady with a vehicle for romantic feelings
Autumnal sounds combine with sad remembrances to inspire a composition on the Qin; And a flood of passion allows evil spirits to disturb the serenity of Zen
Bao-yu gratifies his grandmother by praising a fatherless child; Cousin Zhen rectifies family discipline by chastising two unruly servants
Our hero sees the handiwork of a departed love, and is moved to write and ode; Frowner falls prey to hysterical fear and resolves to starve to death
A poor girl loses a padded jacket and puts up with some obstreperous behaviour; A young man accepts a tray of sweetmeats and is put out by some devious goings-on
In the pursuance of lust, Moonbeam evolves an artful strategem; In a flight of Zen, Bao-yu makes an enigmatic confession
Qiao-jie studies the Lives of Noble Women and shows a precocious enthusiasm for Virtue; Jia Zheng admires a Mother Pearl and reflect on the vicissitudes of Life
A Zhen retainer seeks shelter in the Jia household; And shady activities are revealed behind the Iron Threshold
Grandmother Jia gives a crab-blossom party - a celebration of the ominous; Bao-yu loses his Magic Jade - a strange disappearance of the numinous
A rumour comes true and the Imperial Consort passes away; A counterfeit is deceptively like the real thing, and Bao-yu loses his wits
Xi-feng conceives an ingenious plan of deception; And Frowner is deranged by an inadvertent disclosure
Lin Dai-yu burns her poems to signal the end of her heart's folly; And Xue Bao-chai leaves home to take part in a solemn rite
Crimson Pearl's suffering spirit returns to the Realm of Separation; And the convalescent Stone-in-waiting weeps at the scene of past affection
Prefaces to the first Cheng-Gao edition Joint Foreword to the subsequent Cheng-Gao edition
The Octopartite Composition or 'bagu wenzhang'
The Qin or Chinese Lute, and Knowing the Sound
Iron Threshold Temple and Water-moon Priory
Characters in Volume 4