Up until 1791, the novel circulated merely in scribal transcripts. These early hand-copied versions end abruptly at the latest at the 80th chapter. The earlier ones furthermore contain transcribed comments and annotations in red ink from unknown commentators. These commentators' remarks reveal much about the author as a person, and it is now believed that some of them may even be members of Cao Xueqin's own family. The most prominent commentator is Rouge Inkstone (脂硯齋), who revealed much of the interior structuring of the work and the original manuscript ending, now lost. These manuscripts are the most textually reliable versions, known as Rouge versions (脂本). Even amongst some 12 independent surviving manuscripts, small differences in some of the characters, rearrangements and possible rewritings cause the texts to vary a little.
The early 80 chapters brim with prophecies and dramatic foreshadowings that also give hints as to how the book would continue. For example, it is obvious that Lin Daiyu will eventually die in the course of the novel; that Baoyu and Baochai will marry; that Baoyu will become a monk.
Most modern critical editions use the first 80 chapters, based on the Rouge versions.
Other articles related to "rouge versions, versions, rouge":
... These early hand-copied versions end abruptly at the latest at the 80th chapter ... The most prominent commentator is Rouge Inkstone (脂硯齋), who revealed much of the interior structuring of the work and the original manuscript ending, now lost ... These manuscripts are the most textually reliable versions, known as Rouge versions (脂本) ...
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