紅樓夢 Hónglóu Mèng characters Ì 104

Summary 紅樓夢 [Hónglóu Mèng]

紅樓夢 [Hónglóu Mèng] characters Ì 104 ✓ This abridged edition of A Dream of Red Mansions written in the mid 18th century remains faithful to the original Yang Hsien yi translation of Hong Lou Meng It is generally considered the greatest Chinese novel ever written Ideal for core curriculum and comparative literature classesThis abridged edition of A Dream of Red Mansions written in the mid 18th century remains faith. I hate this book and I'm ChineseOk hate is a strong word I'm repulsed by this book which I viewed as close to godliness in my childhood I hate 'em little balls of prudishnessSorry about this translators because I think you did a nice job on this book and I'm still giving you two stars If I rated on your technicality alone I would give you a solid 3 or 4 I do like the English version in some ways better than the Chinese versions because it's so much 'normal' for lack of a better word I felt that the prose style of the original was awkward and it somehow feels less distorted in the English version to a degree This is because Xuein used vernacular Chinese in composing his proses Vernacular is straightforward easily comprehensible brash raw characteristic and should remind me somewhat warmly of my Chinese neighboursBut Xuein changed it all He wrote in vernacular but all of his characters dialogues were so highly organized so refined so grammatically correct it simply feels artificial as if he made several rough drafts of one conversation before inserting them into the characters' mouths He 'eleganized' the beautiful spontaneous street talk of vernacular I hated that It's like somebody decided to Shakespearize Dickens English feels much normal for some reason bringing forthwith unconscious magnitude in the dialogue Then again English also concealed the brilliancy of the original proses and descriptions so there are wins and lossesNext I have a problem with the central themes which cannot be changed with translation Due to its uncertainty of themes the book can be read as a surreal poetic metaphor or a realistic piece of fiction But when you actually think about it the plot boils down to this rich noble bastards party hard Party crashes Go homeAnd it talks about this for roughly 80 chapters before we lose the original manuscript and read the flawed 40 chapters This unfinished ness added to the 'mysticism' surrounding the book and is a major topic still in modern Redology Then this book is hailed as the height of Chinese literatureDot dot dot To be honest the plot was good It still is good The ideas and philosophies are not It stereotypes men and women to a huge degree with its kind of reversal sexism appeal I especially had a problem with the author's 'ranking' of women in the 5th chapter even if it is meant simply as a way of introducing dramatis personae you can't ignore that Jing Huan Goddess proclaimed it herself that only the BEST women are recorded and the rest of the COMMON VULGAR women are not Who the hell does she or the author think they are For some reason some see the book as a novel of feminism while it had minimum impact on the Chinese feminist movement For another they see it as a hidden way of expressing political satire In this case take the book off the classics shelf now why should we waste time on an author who doesn't even want to sit down and write a proper story Another proclaim the book is mainly emphasizing the Buddhism idea of 'Kong Huan' in that everything even the most beautiful eventually amounts to nothing The author does a bad job of this if that is the case because his sadness his losses and his flames are uite trivial and does not match up to the greater kindness and understanding of Buddhism As I was reading it through in the future I couldn't help but feel as if the author is writing these 80 chapters feeling narcissist ly sorry for himself There are a lot of unparalleled stories in the book though that outmatch the author's contemporaries Unfortunately not every story is of eual uality especially when you see how narrow the book's world really is It's constraining to see these young people shut up in a false paradise wasting their lives away Worst of all the author seems to take enjoyment in it too alongside his forgotten sadness He beautified aspects of life that one would feel uncomfortable with for example it's okay for young girls to throw temper tantrums because she's young beautiful but apparently it's not okay for old women to throw tantrums because they're inferior to younger virgin girls Whut He also did not really show the intensity of corruptive activities in the familiesLast of all comes the poetry The poetry is greatly emphasized in this novel but upon reading it it becomes clear that ing dynasty poems were on the decline The poems in the novel are most elegantly and skillfully composed Yet they lack creativity originality and sophistication The poems are mainly concerning either of the emptiness of human life or mourning about the again most trivial things such as flowers plants people etc The grandeur mysticism of Tang Spring and Autumn and Three Kingdoms era poets are sadly failing in the hands of ing poets and only begins to revive a little within chapter 78 in which Bao Yu composes a Song and a mournful Rhapsody which were the loveliest to read Well the author can't really make the poems great considering they come out of the hands of adolescents and the poems are the best parts of the book the main reason why I go back to read it today Overall technically speaking this book is not bad standing alone Yet it has achieved nearly national veneration in Chinese lit and I'm not uite sure if it should be In terms of surreal and romantic aestheticism it does not match up to Genji Japanese but earlier than this book by 700 years If Murasaki can do it why not Xuein in terms of realism and plotting wobbles before Plum of the Golden Vase in terms of philosophy and mysticism I think loses to Journey to the West 100 Strange Stories the Carnal Prayer Mat and Tale of Scholars at the top of my head The book's surpassing virtue is its delicate poetry sense of dreaminess and scattered cryptic messages which no one will ever be able to sort Nevertheless one does admire his strength of weaving stories and feels sorry that they could not read the completed work but it is not the best

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Greatest Chinese novel ever written Ideal for core curriculum and comparative literature class. WHAT EVERY EDUCATED CITIZEN OF THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW IN THE 21ST CENTURY THE GREAT CLASSICAL NOVELS OF CHINA THE DREAM OF RED MANSIONS BY CAO XUEIN THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST BY WU CHENGEN THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS by LUO GUANZHONG THE WATER MARGIN or ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS by SHI NAI'AN THE SCHOLARS BY WU JINGZI AND THE EROTIC CLASSIC THE JIN PING MEI OR GOLDEN LOTUS FROM THE WORLD LITERATURE FORUM RECOMMENDED CLASSICS AND MASTERPIECES SERIES VIA GOODREADS— ROBERT SHEPPARD EDITOR IN CHIEFChinese culture is renown for its addiction to compiling Lists of the Greats from the Four Great Inventions of China Paper the Comnpass Printing and Gunpowder to the Four Great Beautiful Women Yang Guifei Xi Shi Yang Jiaojun and Diaochan to the Three Great Tang Dynasty Poets Li Bai Li Po Du Fu and Wang Wei to the Four Great Novels of Chinese Literature Thus every educated Chinese person was expected to have read or at least to have thouroughly read about The Four Great Novels The ing Dynasty Classic the Hong Lou Meng or The Dream of Red Mansions by Cao Xuein the Xi You Ji or Journey to the West by Wu Chengen featuring the fabulous Monkey King Sun Wukong the great historical epic The Romance of the Three Kingdoms by Luo Guanzhong and the classic Robin Hood tale of gallant outlaws Shui Hu Zhuan or The Water Margin by Shi Nai'an Chinese scholars generally added two additional novels as an Apocrypha to this Canonic Prose Bible of The Four Great Novels which officially you shouldn't have read like the Maruis de Sade or Lady Chatterly's Lover in the West but which if you were a real intellectual you definitely should have The erotic classic the Jin Ping Mei or The Golden Lotus which was excluded from inclusion in the canon because of its sexual immoral and pornographic content despite its admitted literary excellence and the Ru Lin Wai Shi or The Scholars by Wu Jingzi also downgraded from classical status due to its bohemian counter cultural satire on and rejection of traditional Confucian scholars and examination passing officials as mindless conformists and intellectual ciphers In the not so remote past education centered on learning the cultural tradition of one's own nation was assumed to be an adeuate foundation for functional adulthood and citizenship Thus Chinese scholars concentrated on the Confucian heritage and with little effort given to understanding other civilizations and traditions Christians were content with the Bible and their own national classics and Islamic nations were happy if one could recite the Koran by heart In today's cosmopolitan globalized world of transnational business and the Internet familiarity with one's own national history national culture and literature is no longer an adeuate preparation for adult life in the globalized real world Thus each educated person in the modern world must have a basic familiarity with World Literature in addition to his own national or regional literature accompanied of course with a basic knowledge of World History World Religions World Philosophy and universal science With the increasing importance of a Rising China in world affairs and culture it is thus incumbent on every educated person in the world to have some basic familiarity with these six classics of Chinese Literature Thus World Literature Forum in this Recommended Classics and Masterpieces of World Literature Series provides the following very basic introduction to these works perhaps in a globalized version of ED Hirsch's What Every American Should Know reformulated as What Every Citizen of the World Should Know in the 21st Century THE IMMORTAL SAGA OF FAMILY DECLINE AND SPIRITUAL FATE HONG LOU MENG OR A DREAM OF RED MANSIONSThe theme and saga of family decline is a universal mofif in World Literature embracing such classics as Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks the English Forsyth Saga of Gallsworthy Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waigh and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Máruez The Dream of Red Mansions is one of the great exemplars of this genre movingly telling the tale of the decline of the Jia family laced with Buddhist spiritual fore fated melancholy from success and influence in the ing Dynasty Imperial Court through demise weakening of character disaster and their fall into relative obscurity Scholars and popular readers have agreed that the Dream of the Red Chamber also variously entitled A Dream of Red Chambers or The Story of the Stone is the greatest Chinese novel though differences of opinion have developed as to the exact nature of its greatness since its publication Indeed in China there is a whole virtual branch of knowledge or cottage industry which is known as Red ology in the interpretation of the work about which a similar amount of criticism has been written as comparable with that of Shakespeare criticism in England of Goethe criticism in Germany The Dream of the Red Mansion also serves as a veritable encyclopedia of imperial Chinese society and culture in the ing Dynasty 1644 1911 introducing over four hundred characters hailing from all walks of life and social classes with intricate subplots and detailed descriptions of buildings gardens furniture cuisine medicines clothing poetry etiuette games performances and pastimes of the aristocracy and others The novel has simi autobiographical features as the author Cao Xuein 1715 1763also came from a declining family successful in the early ing Dynasty but reduced in fortune and circumstances until the author died in relative poverty and obscurity whille completing his immortal epic in BeijingReduced to its most central characters the story focuses on a young man of the Jia family Jia Baoyu coming of age surrounded by female cousins and slightly effeminate and romantic in his temperament who falls in love with but cannot marry Lin Daiyu a poor relation cousin who has a spiritual beauty that accompanies her declining health His Golden Days are spent cavorting with these cousins and friends in aristocratic pleasures and cultivated pastimes such as writing poetry couplets to each other watching Chinese Opera performances and frolicing in the Pleasure Garden of the family estate As the years go by Jia Baoyu protected and spoiled by his doting grandmother interminably procrastinates in pursuing the twin adult responsibilities urged on him by his parents His stern Confucian father urges on him the duty of studying hard passing the Imperial Examination becoming a court bureaucrat and restoring the family's declining material fortunes; His mother urges that he find an appropriate match as a wife from a successful aristocratic family that can extend and enhance the waning power and wealth of the extended family Instead Baoyu dallies in adolescent games and pleasures sexual experimentation and petty intrigues holding on to the splendor in the grass of the family Pleasure Garden and feels that his love bond with his poor cousin the ailing Lin Daiyu is spiritually fated which it proves to be to the unhealthy detriment of all The immense novel also operates powerfully on a symbolic spiritual level with the opening chapter from which the alternative title The Story of the Stone derives literally containing the entire novel condensed into symbolic form Following ancient Chinese Taoist and Buddhist myth a stone rejected by a goddess who was repairing the sky is picked up by a Buddhist monk and a Daoist priest and taken to the world of the mortals to be found eons later by another Daoist with the story of its worldly forefated experience inscribed upon it Unfit for the pure unadulterated life and condition of heaven the stone is forefated to suffer birth and death in mortal life below yet also tragically retains alloyed within itself the divine substance of heaven Before the stone enters upon mortal life and destiny however it like the Little Prince of Exuperay tenderly waters with sweet dew a lovely flower not of this world who in turn incurs a karmic debt towards the stone which must be repaid in the mortal world of human life The story of the stone is thus the inscribed fate of the stone written on itself suspended somehow ever insecurely as of all human endeavor somewhere between heaven and earth but also becomeing in reiteration or reincarnation the story and destiny of Jia Baoyu as an individual human mortal who like the Biblical sheep gone astray of Isiah's Suffering Servant passage or the miscast ploughman's seed finds another existential and singular destiny fatedly unhappy in this world's material context Thus we learn in the novel that Jai Baoyu was born with a jade stone in his mouth trailing as it were Wordsworthian clouds of glory in his birth and from thence relives the story of the stone in his ill fated mortal life while his beloved Lin Daiyu a reincarnation of the beautiful other worldly flower loved and watered by the stone in heaven pays her karmic debt to the stone in her undying yet ill fated love and devotion for Jia Baoyu in this world Meanwhile as each of the characters works out their spiritual destinies the Jia family declines further and further in its worldly fortunes THE JOURNEY TO THE WEST OR XI YOU JI AND THE MONKEY KINGPerhaps the most beloved novel by all Chinese people from children to adults is the immortal Journey to the West of Wu Chengen which tells the story of the pilgrimage of the Buddhist Monk Xuanzong to India to obtain and translate Holy Buddhist Scriptures aided by the magical Monkey King Sun Wu Kong a lovable Pigsy or Zhu Bajie character endowed with gargantuan physical strength and appetites and a down to earth and practical monk Sandy or Sha Hesheng In the long narrative of their adventures they repeatedly are assaulted en route by demons and evil forces plotting to defeat the Tang Monk's spiritual mission but which are always defeated by the combination of talents and forces of the pilgrim brotherhood led by the rebellious and precocious genius and magical powers of the Monkey King a figure derived from the earlier character Hanuman in the Indian Ramayana As both the Journey to the West and the Romance of the Three Kingdoms have already been treated in greater depth in other blog entries in this series I will not go into great depth in their description THE ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS OF LUO GUANZHONGThe Romance of the Three Kingdoms tells the historically true story of the wars and struggles between the three kingdoms Wei Shu and Wu which arose between 169 AD and 280 AD when the Han Dynasty Empire comparable in scope and population to the contemporaneous Roman Empire broke apart before again acheiving reunification As a novel loosly based on real history but treated with artistic license like Duma's Three Musketeers saga it tells the story of the Iron Brotherhood of devoted friends and heroes Liu Bei Guan Yu and Zhang Fei who swear their one for all and all for one oath of allegiance to restore the Han Dynasty in the famous Oath of the Peach Garden also vowing to protect the oppressed They are opposed by the arch Machiavellian dictator Cao Cao whom they must defeat but are aided by the genius general Zhuge Liang The story of their struggle ultimately successful but not before their deaths has become as familiar to all Chinese Japanese and Korean persons as the stories of Julius Caesar Mark Anthony and Cleopatra are in the West THE WATER MARGIN OR ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS CLASSIC OF OUTLAW GALLANTRY AND ADVENTURE SONG JIANG THE CHINESE ROBIN HOODThe 14th Century classic The Water Margin Shui Hu Zhuan also known as Outlaws of the Marsh as translated by American epatriate Sydney Shapiro and All Men Are Brothers as translated by the first female American Nobel Prize Winner Pearl Buck is written in vernacular Chinese and attributed to the writer Shi Nai'an The Robin Hood esue story set in the Song Dynasty tells of how a group of 108 outlaws gathers at Mount Liang or Liangshan Marsh to form a sizable army of adventurous outlaws before they are eventually granted amnesty by the government and sent on campaigns to resist foreign invaders and suppress other rebel forces As such it depicts many of the contradictions in feudal Chinese society based on repression and exploitation of the mass peasantry by a corrupt and oppressive landed aristocracy and imperial bureaucracy which generated repressed and often co opted its opponents The novel focuses on the exploits of the outlaw Song Jiang and his thirty six sworn brothers and their heroic adventures reminiscent of the tales of Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest in the West THE CHINESE EROTIC CLASSIC JIN PING MEI OR THE GOLDEN LOTUSThe Jin Ping Mei or The Golden Lotus is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in vernacular Chinese during the late Ming Dynasty by an unknown anonymous author taking the pseudonym Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng or The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling circulated first in surreptitious handwritten copies then printed for the first time in 1610 Its graphically explicit depiction of sexuality has garnered the novel a level of notoriety in the Chinese world akin to Fanny Hill Lady Chatterley's Lover or the Maruis de Sade in Western literature but critics nonetheless generally find a firm moral structure which exacts moralistic retribution for the sexual libertinism of the central characters The Jin Ping Mei takes its name from the three central female characters — Pan Jinlian Golden Lotus Li Ping'er Little Vase a concubine of Ximen ing and Pang Chunmei Spring plum a young maid who rises to power within the family of the decadent libertine Ximen ing Princeton University Press in describing the Roy translation calls the novel a landmark in the development of the narrative art form not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world historical contextnoted for its surprisingly modern techniue and with the possible exception of The Tale of Genji 1010 and Don uixote 1605 1615 there is no earlier work of prose fiction of eual sophistication in world literature The Jin Ping Mei is framed as a spin off from the classical novel The Water Margin The beginning chapter is based on an episode in which Tiger Slayer Wu Song avenges the murder of his older brother by brutally killing his brother's former wife and murderer Pan Jinlian The story ostensibly set during the years 1111–27 during the Northern Song Dynasty centers on Ximen ing a corrupt social climber libertine and lustful merchant who is wealthy enough to marry a consort of six wives and concubines After secretly murdering Pan Jinlian's husband Ximen ing takes her as one of his wives The story follows the domestic sexual struggles of the women within his household as they clamor for prestige and influence amidst the gradual decline of the Ximen clan In the Jin Ping Mei anti hero Ximen ing in the end dies from an overdose of aphrodisiacs administered by Jinlian to which he has become addicted and dependent in order to keep up his sexual potency In the course of the novel Ximen has 19 sexual partners including his 6 wives and mistresses with 72 intimately described sexual episodes a level of erotic repetition reminiscent of the works of the Maruis de Sade and Henry Miller in Nexus Sexus and Plexus Needless to say the Jin Ping Mei through most of history was severely repressed by the puritanical Confucian authorities as criminal pornography though its libertine anti hero Ximen ing receives full poetical justice and punishment for his crimes Even today mention of its name like de Sade in the West will bring a blush of enbarassed shame to most Chinese cheeks young and old THE SCHOLARS OR RU LIN WAI SHI BY WU JINGZIThe Scholars written in 1750 by Wu Jingzi during the ing Dynasty describes and often satirizes Chinese scholars in a vernacular Chinese idiom The first and last chapters portray intellectual recluses but most of the loosely connected stories that form the bulk of the novel are didactic and satiric stories on the one hand admiring idealistic Confucian behavior but on the other ridiculing over ambitious scholars and criticizing the civil service examination system describing the officials and orthodox scholars who succeed in the system as mindless conformists and intellectual ciphers whose knowledge rarely exceeds the Cliff Notes and cram course exam fakery of the times exemplified by the rote mechanical guidebooks to the Eight Legged Essay for the Imperial Examination Instead the novel honors the somewhat bohemian and counter cultural intellectual circles on the fringe of official society freuented by actors poets artists bibliophiles and the true scholars of the heart who despise the official poseurs and conseuently lead insecure lives and suffer financial decline Promoting naturalistic attitudes over belief in the supernatural the author rejects the popular belief in retribution his bad characters suffer no punishment The characters in these stories are intellectuals perhaps based on the author's friends and contemporaries Wu also portrays women sympathetically the chief character Du treats his wife as a companion and soulmate instead of as an inferior Although it is a satiric and counter cultural novel a major incident in the novel is Du's attempt to renovate his family's ancestral temple suggesting the author shared with Du a belief in the importance of a true and authentic Confucianism as opposed to the poseur Confucianism of the ruling bureaucratic class SPIRITUS MUNDI AND THE CHINESE NOVELMy own work Spiritus Mundi the contemporary epic of social idealists struggling to save the world and avert WWIII with a revolutionary new United Nations Parliamentary Assembly also draws on Chinese tradition Over a third of the novel takes place in China and the novel was written entirely in Beijing One of the main characters of the mythic portion of the novel is the Monkey King Sun Wukong who along with Goethe guides the protagonists on a uest to the center of the earth and to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy to save the world from a conspiracy to bring about WWIII In China I knew Sydney Shapiro the translator of The Outlaws of the Marsh and also worked with the daughter of Gladys Yang the translator of the Dream of the Red Mansion World Literature Forum invites you to check out the great Chinese novelists of World Literature and also the contemporary epic novel Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard For a fuller discussion of the concept of World Literature you are invited to look into the extended discussion in the new book Spiritus Mundi by Robert Sheppard one of the principal themes of which is the emergence and evolution of World LiteratureFor Discussions on World Literature and n Literary Criticism in Spiritus Mundi SheppardEditor in ChiefWorld Literature ForumAuthor Spiritus Mundi NovelAuthor’s Blog Mundi on Goodreads Mundi on Book I Mundi Book II The Romance Robert Sheppard 2013 All Rights Reserved

Cao Xueqin õ 4 Summary

紅樓夢 Hónglóu MèngFul to the original Yang Hsien yi translation of Hong Lou Meng It is generally considered the. The copy I read was a downloadable Kindle version I could not figure out the translator The total location number was 36403 If I use a recommended page euivalent converter number of 1669 the page number comes to a little over 2100 which is close to the printed full version page numberAt first I couldn’t understand how this book became one of the four pinnacles of classical Chinese literature – The other three are The Romance of the Three Kingdoms Journey to the West and Outlaws of the Marsh; all may have various different titles depending on the translation – It starts out like a rather dull uneventful linear diary spiced with an occasional mystical dream of the main protégé Bayou an early teenage boy growing into young adulthood during the story The details of his days and the days of a host of other main characters mostly his relatives are given in obsessive almost painful detailsBut dear Reader don’t be fooled by this slow start Perhaps the following statement will demonstrate how the book grew on me completing the first 20 % of the book took me time than the rest of the 80% The reason I hung on during these critical early pages was a fascinating look into a long gone culture; a culture that until this day has been reflected in the life and mentality of nearly a third of the World’s population – East and South East Asia to be exact If one has my kind of enthrallment with various cultures the “boring” details throughout the book actually provide an exuisite opportunity to observe and learn In sharp contrast to the first part around 50% into the reading the story accelerated and I had hard time putting down my Kindle From here on the life events of a few dozen main characters and countless minor participants became compelling The story branched out into several exciting subplots only to be masterfully reunited in the final chaptersThe Jia is an old noble family in the middle period of the ing Dynasty China One of their greatest social achievements came when the Emperor chose their oldest daughter as a favorite concubine When the family learned that their daughter had gotten permission from the Court to visit her parents for her welcome they built a magnificent garden with several living uarters The rest of the story took place mostly in this garden and the surrounding two mansions belonging to two branches of the Jias The main storyline focuses on the slow decline of this huge influential family However there is an eually important second storyline running parallel with the first one as an organic component of it Bayou’s somewhat mystical spiritual awakening Most characters have multidimensional flesh and blood personalities without a hint of dogmatic profiling The good bad and the ambiguous features are distributed among them with good sense letting their vivid individualities shine throughPoetry is an important part of the characters’ lives The book presents a good number of poems written by a few gifted family members Although intellectually these poems gave me very little to hang on to their moods nonetheless helped me understand the state of mind of those who wrote the poems and even the times they lived in Not unlike James Joyce’s with his “stream of consciousness” the author gives the reader free access to the most inner thoughts of several major characters most notably to Bayou’s This extra dimension of their personalities makes these characters even intimate and accessible to the readerOne thing I especially enjoyed in the book was learning about the multiple elements of the ing Dynasty China interwoven in the story the arranged marriages; concubines; the “dowager” cult – incidentally this latter largely contributed to the fall of China during Emperor Dowager Cixi’s regency ; the bizarre look at suicide as an accepted and in fact freuently expected solution to life’s problems; Chinese Medicine with its reliance on pulse evaluation; the system of feudalistic servants whose status was not much different from slaves but who could become highly valued members of the families – in the book represented by Xiren and Pinger ; the influence of Buddhism Taoism and Confucianism on every day life; the role of Chinese Opera in Chinese culture; the importance of jade in Chinese spirituality; etcOne peculiarity that stood out for me in the book is the physical and psychological fragility of the Jia clan members Freuent crying mental derangement suicide and consumption – ie tuberculosis – abounded in this wealthy family I could not find any historical information regarding the incidence of mental disease and tuberculosis in 18th century China but based on the story it surely seemed high Or was this family struck by an unusual genetic burden due to intermarriage As an example Bayou who himself acted at times as a schizophrenic other times as a depressed or autistic youngsters married his first cousinIn summary this is a remarkable book for its documentation of an obscure historical time hardly accessible for most Westerners It has a rich character set the theme is timeless and the intriguing subplots make it a persuasive reading The book’s length is due to exuisite details On one side these seemingly unnecessary details don’t help much with the modern concept of story development yet I would submit that they have other literary values I can see that many potential readers will get discouraged to start or continue reading the book even after overcoming their reluctance due to the formidable page number To such potential readers I would recommend reading one of the abridged versions readily available in popular bookstores