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A page from the 1759 "Jimao manuscript" of the novel.[1]
A page from the 1759 "Jimao manuscript" of the novel.[1]
A collection of commentaries on the Dream of the Red Chamber by Gao Yuetan
A collection of commentaries on the Dream of the Red Chamber by Gao Yuetan

Redology (simplified Chinese: 红学; traditional Chinese: 紅學; pinyin: hóng xué) is the academic study of Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber,[2] one of the Four Great Classical Novels of China. There are numerous researchers in this field; most can be divided into four general groups. The first group are the commentators, such as Zhou Chun, Xu Fengyi, Chen Yupi, and others. The second group is the index group, which mainly includes Wang Mengruan and Cai Yuanpei. The third group are the textual critics, including Hu Shih and Yu Pingbo. The final group are the literary critics, including Zhou Ruchang and Li Xifan.


A 1976 essay by Joey Bonner split the Chinese critical reception of the novel into five phases:[3]

  • Pre-1791
    Commentators on the pre-publication manuscripts, such as Rouge Inkstone and Odd Tablet, who mainly provide literary analysis of the first 80 chapters.
    Post-publication questions over authorship of the addendum, speculation upon esoteric aspects of the book. After 1875 using the term "Redology" for the studies.
    Political interpretations.
    "New Redology" led by Hu Shih approach questions of textual authenticity, documentation, dating, and a strong autobiographical focus. The labelling of previous periods as "Old Redology".
    Marxist literary theory, the book seen as a criticism of society's failures. Li Xifan's criticism of both Old Redology and Neo-Redologists such as Hu Shih and Yu Pingbo.


  1. ^ Yu, Anthony C. (2001). Rereading the Stone: Desire and the Making of Fiction in Dream of the Red Chamber. Princeton University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0691015619.
  2. ^ Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China (New York: Norton, 1990), 106–110. ISBN 0-393-30780-8.
  3. ^ Berry, Margaret (18 October 2010). The Chinese Classic Novels (Routledge Revivals): An Annotated Bibliography of Chiefly English-Language Studies. ISBN 9781136836589.

Further reading

  • Zhou Ruchang. Between Noble and Humble: Cao Xueqin and the Dream of the Red Chamber, edited by Ronald R Gray and Mark S. Ferrara. New York:Peter Lang, 2009

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