Cao Zhan


Cao Zhan
or Ts'ao Chan

born 1715?, Jiangning, Jiangsu province, China
died Feb. 12, 1763, Beijing

Chinese novelist.

He is the author of Dream of the Red Chamber (1791), generally considered China's greatest novel. A partly autobiographical work written in the vernacular, it describes in lingering detail the decline of a powerful family and an ill-fated love between cousins. Cao finished at least 80 of its 120 chapters; it was completed after his death, probably by Gao E, about whom little is known.

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▪ Chinese author
Wade-Giles romanization  Ts'ao Chan , literary name (hao)  Xueqin , also called  Cao Xueqin 
born 1715?, Jiangning [now Nanjing], Jiangsu province, China
died February 12, 1763, Beijing

      author of Hongloumeng ( Dream of the Red Chamber), generally considered China's greatest novel. A partly autobiographical work, it is written in the vernacular and describes in lingering detail the decline of the powerful Jia family and the ill-fated love between Baoyu and his cousin Lin Daiyu.

      Cao was the grandson of Cao Yin, one of the most eminent and wealthy men of his time. In 1727, however, his family, which held the hereditary office of commissioner of imperial textiles in Jiangning, suffered the first of a series of setbacks and moved to Beijing. By 1742 Cao's contemporaries were reporting him to be living in reduced circumstances and engaged on a work that could hardly be anything other than the Dream. The author finished at least 80 chapters of the novel before his death. The work was said to be completed by Gao E (1738?–1815?).

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Universalium. 2010.

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