The Story of the Stone aka The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin and Gao E

Rachel of the Hungry Hundred Book Club selected this mammoth Chinese classic for discussion at the end of January 2018. I bought the five-volume Penguin paperback edition. Below are the results of my research into the different available English translations.

See also: Buying books in Singapore

1. English Translation (Hawkes/Minford)

A complete English translation (120 chapters) called The Story of the Stone, translated by Hawkes and Minford, was published by Penguin in five volumes (copyright 1974–1986).

Penguin published a 96-page extract from this version in 1996.

2. English Translation (Yang/Yang)

A complete English translation (120 chapters) called A Dream of Red Mansions, translated by Gladys Yang and Yang Hsien-yi, was published by a Chinese publisher in a three-volume hardcover set, three paperbacks sold separately, or a four-volume paperback set (copyright 1978).

I strongly suspect the Hawkes/Minford translation is easier for English speakers to read and appreciate. (The Yang translation is characterized as being too literal.)

Some of the Yang/Yang translations that say the authors are “Tsao Hsueh-Chin and Kao Ngo”. Those are just different spellings of “Cao Xueqin and Gao E”.

3. Illustrated English Retelling (Sun/Chiang)

A British company called Real Reads published a 64-page illustrated retelling of the Chinese classic by Christine Sun, illustrated by Shirley Chiang (copyright 2013).

4. Truncated English Translation (Joly)

There’s a 56-chapter partial translation by Henry Bencraft Joly. Since the text was first published in 1892, there are no copyright restrictions. The text is available in a variety of paperback and ebook formats, including a free download from Project Gutenberg.

5. Abridged English Translation (Wang)

There’s a 60-chapter abridged version by Chi-Chen Wang available in one paperback volume (copyright 1958).