Further adaptations of the text

Hainanese Opera performance of Dream of Red Chamber

This is the first of ten episodes in a Hainanese 海南 opera version of Dream of the Red Chamber. The other nine episodes are available on youtube.

1987 Television Show

When this 36 episode television series produced by China Central TV first aired in China 1987, according to Zhong Xueping, the streets were empty of people and bookstores sold out of copies of the novel. As of 2012, the series had been rebroadcast more than 700 times. I can think of no other work in world literature that has had such an impact.This link is to the first episode of the series on youtube; all 36 episodes are subtitled in English.

A handy guide to episodes is provided in the Wikipedia article on the show.  It gives (in English) the subject of each of the 36 episodes.

There are some key differences between the television series and the novel, particularly in regard to the ending.  In the novel, Daiyu dies as Baoyu’s marriage to Baochai is taking place. In the television series, she dies before the marriage takes place–indeed, she does not know about the marriage.  In the last two episodes of the television series, the entire Jia family ends up in jail, which does not happen in the novel.  These alterations reflect the dissatisfaction many readers through the ages have felt with the last forty chapters of the novel, which may not have been written by Cao Xueqin.

For more information on the television show, and an analysis of how it is in many ways a product of the “culture fever” of the 1980s, see the article by Zhong Xueping, “The Story of the Stone on Television” in Andrew Schonebaum and Tina Lu, eds Approaches to Teaching The Story of the Stone (Dream of the Red Chamber) (Modern Language Association, 2012), 427-441.

2010 Television Show

Despite (or perhaps because of) the enormous popularity of the 1987 television show, another version was produced in 2010, directed by Li Shaohong 李少紅, a prominent fifth-generation director. 

This television production, which has 50 episodes, is based on the 120 chapter version of the novel.

Tim Yip was the art designer and costume designer for this television production.  He is also the designer for the Sheng/Hwang opera.  You may see some visual similarities in the costume vocabulary for the two productions.


Subsequent episodes are available on youtube.

Shadow Puppet Adaptation of the Novel

Global Times article on shadow puppets based on novel Dream of the Red Chamber.

Wu Jianren “New Dream of the Red Chamber” 吳趼人:《新石頭記》

In 1905, Wu Jianren 吳趼人 published a sequel to Dream of the Red Chamber, called “New Dream of the Red Chamber”《新石頭記》. Excerpts from the novel, translated by Sterling Swallow, were published in the journal Renditions, no. 77 and 78. 


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Dream of the Red Chamber Copyright © by Ann Waltner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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