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Books about the world of the Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone)
November 16, 2011 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to re-read the Chinese classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber (The Story of the Stone), but I'd like to know more about the world it's set in first. What are some recommendations for books about daily life and clothing during the Qing dynasty, particularly during the 1700s?

I'm interested in everything that's a part of the characters' lives: food, architecture, education, family structure, poetry and literature, gender relations, court life and so on. I'm especially interested in what their clothes and jewelry would have been like.

What I'm hoping for is a book similar to Ivan Morris' The World Of The Shining Prince, which pulled together information about Heian-period economics, daily life, education, religion, art and so on to provide context to Japanese literature from that time such as The Tale of Genji. My ideal book would give background for the world of the Jia family in the same way. I'm certainly open to multiple books, though.
posted by shirobara to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could try Six Records of a Floating Life, which is the memoir of a pretty ordinary guy published in 1805. I haven't read it before but it should give you a flavor of the daily life of that era.
posted by Pantalaimon at 3:00 PM on November 16, 2011


You might want to check out this AskMe of mine, I would recommend as an overall history China's Last Empire: The Great Qing which does have sections on what you are specifically interested and whose bibliography you might want to mine
posted by shothotbot at 5:16 PM on November 16, 2011


I think this is still the standard work of Qing social history in English, though I'm fairly out of touch and more recent works may have superseded it.
The other Qing history I always recommend, though it's a bit tangential to Redology say the least, is Philip Kuhn's Soulstealers.
posted by Abiezer at 6:27 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pantalaimon, shothotbot, Abiezer, thank you very much for your answers! I'm glad to have so much to read, and I've already found Chinese Society in the Eighteenth Century, so I'll start with that one.
posted by shirobara at 6:01 PM on November 22, 2011


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