This is the opening section; this the
first chapter. Subsequent to the visions of a dream which he had, on some previous occasion, experienced, the writer personally relates, he designedly concealed the
true circumstances, and borrowed the
attributes of perception and spirituality to relate this story of the Record of the Stone. With this purpose, he made use
of such designations as Chen Shih-yin (truth under the garb of fiction) and the like. What are, however, the events recorded in this work? Who are the dramatis personae?
On this very day it was that I became desirous to compile, in a connected form, for publication throughout the world, with a view to (universal) information, how that I bear inexorable and manifold retribution; inasmuch as what time, by the sustenance of the benevolence of Heaven,
and the virtue of my ancestors, my apparel was rich and fine, and as what days my fare was savory and sumptuous, I disregarded the bounty of education and
nurture of father and mother, and paid no heed to the virtue of precept and injunction of teachers and friends,
with the result that I incurred the punishment, of failure recently in the least trifle, and the reckless waste of half my lifetime. There have been meanwhile, generation
after generation, those in the inner
chambers, the whole mass of whom could not, on any account, be, through my influence, allowed to fall into extinction, in order that I, unfilial as I have been, may have the means to screen my own shortcomings.
Hence it is that the thatched shed, with bamboo mat windows, the bed of tow and the stove of brick, which are at present my share,
are not sufficient to deter me from carrying out the fixed purpose of my mind. And could I, furthermore, confront the morning breeze, the evening moon,
This consideration has led to the usage of such names as Chia Yü-ts’un and other similar appellations.
More than any in these pages have been
employed such words as dreams and visions;