The Story of the Stone (c. 1760), also known by the title of The Dream of the Red Chamber, is the great novel of manners in Chinese literature.
Divided into five volumes, of which The Warning Voice is the third, it charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family (a story which closely accords with the fortunes of the author's own family). The two main characters, Bao-yu and Dai-yu, are set against a rich tapestry of humour, realistic detail and delicate poetry, which accurately reflects the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life. But over and above the novel hangs the constant reminder that there is another plane of existence - a theme which affirms the Buddhist belief in a supernatural scheme of things.
Cao Xueqin (Ts'ao Hsueh-ch'in) ca. 1715-1763 Cao is considered to be China's greatest novelist, but little is known of his life. An unconventional, versatile man, he came from an eminent and wealthy family which suffered a reversal of fortune in 1728 after the death of the Kangxi Emperor and a power struggle between his sons. Cao seems to have spent about ten years writing and revising his novel, from roughly 1740 to 1750, but the last 40 of the 120 chapters were completed by a different author, probably after his death. He also worked for a period of time in the Imperial Clan's school for the children of the nobility and bannermen, but eventually settled in the countryside west of Peking. He earned some money by selling his own paintings, but his family seems to have been perpetually in poverty.