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From 1921, Chinese studies of the novel were dominated by the kaozheng 考證 (textual criticism) approach, which argues on the basis of early manuscripts and commentaries that the novel is largely autobiographical (see sections on Editions and Textual History, Commentaries and Early Material, Autobiography, and Author and Authorship).Such studies have produced an immense amount of useful reference material (see section on Reference Works).
I am less interested at this point in your appreciation of the novel as a "literary work" than I am in the book as a reflection of Chinese culture (world view, aesthetics, values, life-styles, etc.). Over 75 printed Chinese editions; over 15 foreign translations C.
About thirty major characters; over 400 minor characters D.
From the 1990s, the novel has often been seen as an example of larger issues within Chinese literary and cultural history (see sections on Comparative Issues, Religion and Philosophy, Desire and Sexuality, Gender, and Literary Structure).
Few Chinese literary works have inspired a wider range of scholarly interest than Dream of the Red Chamber, and the dominating trends presented above have never ruled unchallenged.
In China, critical comments in the pingdian 評點 “marginal commentary” style began to appear even while the novel was being written, often mixing interpretive comments with personal reactions to the text.
From the beginning of the 20th century, various approaches have been adopted, beginning with the philosophical approach of Wang Guowei in 1904 (see section on Religion and Philosophy) and the suoyin 索隱 (hidden meaning) approach from 1915 onwards, the latter arguing that the novel is a veiled attack on the political powers of the day (see section on Society and History).
A scene from Dream of the Red Chamber (also known as The Story of the Stone). A Dream of Red Mansions is the title by which the book isperhaps most commonly known.
Twelve Young Ladies of Jinling is also a titlesuggested in chapter one. As David Hawkes explains, 'hong lou', red mansion, has the more specialisedmeaning of the residences of the daughters of rich men and thus, the youngladies themselves.