Dream of the Red Chamber BY Xueqin, Cao

Another of China's once-banned classics is Dreams of the Red Chamber (Hong Lou Meng) by Cao Xue Qin. Written and banned during the Qing, its hundred and twenty chapters feature over 700 different characters from four different branches of the royal family of the dying Ming Dynasty. Although ostensibly a tragic love story and virtually an encyclopedia of Chinese folk art and culture, Dreams of the Red Chamber traces the fall of the royal family it portrays. But this wasn't the only thing that offended the rulers at the time it was written. It was classified as 'pornography' and banned by the Qing Dynasty because it mentioned homosexuality and exposed unseemly behavior inside the royal family that diminished the public image of the institution. Cao Xue Qin also seemed to encourage young people to make their own choices, in marriage and in life, instead of blindly pursuing the path their parents, families and lords defined for them. Though written when ignorance was still considered a virtue for women, Hong Lou Meng portrayed a group of beautiful and talented young women who drank rice wine and composed poems about blossoming plum flowers in the snow.