As our first chapter winds to a close, tragedy finally strikes and our story swings into action. It is the night of the Lantern Festival when Zhen Shiyin invites Jia Yucun to his home for a night of revelry. The two men drink late into the evening, when Jia Yucun lets slip of his ambition for wealth and power through a poem that alludes to the rising moon. A sympathetic character, Zhen Shiyin gives the itinerant scholar the funding to travel to the Imperial capital and try his hand taking the official exam.
And then tragedy strikes. You'll have to read the story yourself for the full details. And we won't divulge more than say that the ominous prophecies made earlier in this chapter reach fruition in a series of devastating calamities that bring death and destruction in their wake. Our narrative swings into high action, and our prologue moves towards a close. And the tone for the rest of the novel is set.
If you've been reading Dream of the Red Chamber
along with us from the start, you should be heartened to hear we're almost at the conclusion of the first chapter. And if you haven't yet, we would strongly encourage you to visit your vocabulary page and enable the display of extra notes
in your popups. Just click the appropriate checkbox in the right-hand column. For all of our passages, we've stuck a lot of extra information regarding the symbolism, homophonic allusions, translations and cultural notes. If you're not reading these you may miss the underlying meaning of the story. In cases where word usage is somewhat antiquated, we often provide the more contemporary word in our notes space.
Dream of the Red Chamber is a piece of literature that makes the Chinese language worth knowing all by itself. We hope our annotated edition gives you the pleasure in reading that it gives us in preparing.