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Thread: Bu Bu Jing Xin Novel Discussion. (Lot's of Spoilers!)

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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    Default Bu Bu Jing Xin Novel Discussion. (Lot's of Spoilers!)

    Due to all the wonderful book discussions we've been having over at the Bu Bu Jing Xin Drama thread, I'd thought we move the discussion here to avoid spoiling too much for people who have not read the book.



    For those who don't know, Bu Bu Jing Xin, written by Tong Hua, is a highly popular internet novel that's part of the Qing Dynasty-time travel (清穿/Qing Chuan) genre.

    It tells a tale of a regular, white collar woman whose spirit, upon her death, travels back in time into the body of a young Qing Dynasty aristocrat. There, she becomes entangled in a web of political intrigue as well as romances between the princes fighting for the throne.

    For the Chinese Baidu Wiki, click here.
    For the drama thread here on spcnet, click here.



    BU BU JING XIN NOVEL TRANSLATIONS

    A couple of us have started to translate the novel into English~ Hooray!!~
    Since we are not professional translators and are taking time from our private lives to do this, updates may not be very frequent.

    We hope you all understand. ^^

    Last Update: Apr 6 2011

    Chapter 1:
    http://www.mediafire.com/?yc8b8ceiob7fnbb

    Chapter 2 (Parts 1-3):
    http://www.mediafire.com/?866cp6lcq0u4jsg

    Chapter 2 (Parts 4-6):
    http://www.mediafire.com/?59nxqn7pgctp3kd
    Last edited by Plushie; 04-06-11 at 05:54 AM.

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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    I'll start off with replying to some of the comments made back in the drama thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    Not that 4th is not heartbreakingly compelling, or 14th not possibly the most generous-hearted to the end.
    Ah 14th. Oh 14th. How you vex me so. Your actions at the end almost made me change my mind about you and then you pull the letter stunt. Thus, it sealed my love and hate relationship with you, oh 14th.

    I completely agree with what you said yanfeng, that 14th is most generous at the end. He gave Ruoxi a chance for absolute freedom; free to do whatever she desires with the remaining days of her life. For that I admire him.

    I do not think he made that extra envelope on purpose, and I can't fault him for making it because he probably didn't know it'd cause such a massive tragedy at the end. I can, however, fault him for being careless and selfish. For him, what he did came as a natural thought, which makes his actions worse because it was done in passing.

    He knows Ruoxi is dying, he knows that this is her last dying wish, but all he was worried about was how it'd seem like a big joke if people saw that his concubine have the exact same handwriting as 4th? I question what he cares more, Ruoxi or his pride?? Of course people can argue that he was doing it to protect Ruoxi's own reputation, but it's not a good argument in my mind because Ruoxi is not a girl that would care and 14th should have known that. And she's dying, why would it even matter anymore?

    However, 14th's reaction when he found out his carelessness caused the tragedy tugged at my heart. So I really don't know what to do with 14th.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hoju! View Post
    It was then that I realized that I had misjudged 8th. Up until that point, I had thought that, while he still had feelings for Ruoxi, he had set them aside. That last scene revealed, however, that to the end, he would still protect her.
    I think his feelings were always there, but as you said, he had set them aside. By the end, he didn't have anything left, so helping her was, I guess, the last thing he could do. After all, she's the only thing that is left whom he still has a place for in his heart. No matter how little this feeling is or how deep he buried his feeling for her, she still existed inside him.

    Still, I can't stop feeling that helping Ruoxi wasn't the full reason why he did what he did. He even said it himself, "I have my own selfish reasons as well" (“我有自个的私心.”).

    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    I love it that Ruoxi's looks only managed to get 4th's bored attention at first, and it was her character and actions and words that moved him to love her in the end....
    I like it too. I also like that their romance was not "love at first sight" like Ruoxi and 8th's romance was. Ruoxi and 4th's love was perhaps not as romantic and fairy tale like, but it felt more real and was the result of a long, slow process.

    Ruoxi didn't fall in love with 4th until quite late I think. I think 4th fell in love with her even before she did. She completely used him for her own purposes. When she agrees to be with him by putting on the mulan flower hairpin, she did it because, as she puts it, she needed to find the biggest branch/tree to rely on. It was then 4th said to her that he's not "happy to marry her". He didn't say he didn't want to marry her, but not happy to. He had understood that she's only doing it to survive and not because she felt strongly for him, but he still agreed to take her in.

    I think it was his brutal honesty and sincere love for her that moved her in the end.
    Last edited by Plushie; 03-04-11 at 05:11 AM.

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    Ooh! Good that there's finally a book discussion thread. I've only started reading, and I've managed to get up to chapter 9. So far, not much has happened yet, and I need to try to get into the novel.

    Speaking of which, I'm finding it hard to read it online. I'm trying to buy the book from Amazon.cn, but it's always out of stock. Where else do you guys buy Chinese novels from? (I'm in England.)

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Hey, many thanks to Plushie for starting this up! Love the book and can't wait to wax lyrical about it here... whoopeee!

    Can I start by just copying over what I said about 4th, 13th, 14th and 8th from the other thread? Just so we can kick-start from where we left off over there, only without the spoilers!

    14th and 8th:

    Originally Posted by Plushie
    ^ Hm... why don't I like 14th? I find him a bit fake. He uses his image of being caring, loving and loyal as a means to achieve his goals. You can see this when:
    Great insight Plushie, I admit I didn't get what you said in the spoiler until I read the authoress' own analysis in this respect- I'm amazed at how strong an opinion she has on the issue!

    The most intriguing thing she revealed there though is that 8th is her personal favorite- that apparently she herself wept over many of 8th's scenes as she wrote them, and e.g., for 4th only once did she do so. She is certainly impartial in her writing then, since I found 13th, 14th and 4th to actually be amazingly compelling characters as well, although I am a lot more sympathetic to 8th now that I'm 80% through with the novel.

    8th
    Initially I considered him something of a dishonest coward, but in retrospect, now that I'm done his last scene with Ruoxi, I wonder if he may have voluntarily given up more and taken more risks for her than any of the Princes- incredibly debatable because, as we all know here, motivations for actions in here is a very gray area. How much is sacrifice and how much is calculated to make them look good to the world? Gain them connections? Attain the satisfaction of revenge by being friends with the enemies of my enemies?

    However, without any spoilers, I can say that the last common scene between 13th, 8th and Ruoxi has been, to this point, the highlight of the novel!

    Not that 4th is not heartbreakingly compelling, or 14th not possibly the most generous-hearted to the end.

    But there is something about giving to a friend when you yourself have lost everything there is worth losing in life and have 'nothing left'

    Even if all you have to give is forgiveness.

    Even if all you can do is try your best to forget.

    Okay, can you tell I'm half in love with 13th?


    (And hey, I think I'm pretty fair... I'm half in love pretty much all FOUR of the main princes! )) I don't play favorites much.

    And btw, for those of you wondering, at least in the novel, the crown prince, 10th and 9th just aren't developed enough... they just seem either too much of comic characters - 10th, even though he too is a great friend of Ruoxi's, or flatly, vaguely distasteful! E.g., For all that 9th is supposed to be the poet/literary one amongst them he certain can be scum!)

    PS Thanks for all the picts and updates- I admit that because I saw the stills before I started on the novel, Nicky is my image of the hot 4th Prince. Though for whatever reason, my image of 13th, 8th and particularly 14th are entirely different from the actors. Perhaps the other actors didn't give me as strong an impression from the trailer, so I now have my own image of what they ought to look like from the novel.

    PPS Ha! Yingying, 13th is not the only one...

    What wouldn't I give to have 4th give me a back-rub?! Yummm.... Tifftiff/Plushie and others, I think they'd playing it right to give Nicky more hot bed scenes with Ruoxi... playing up to 4th's sexual aura.

    BTW, it's funny but even in the novel you can feel a sort of raw 'animal' magnetism 4th exudes in spite of being the icy-faced Prince that 8th does not. In that respect they got the mood right.... though I'm still wary of 8th's "romantic" air- give me honest lust any day!

    (More later on the compelling'ness of 4th, and Hoju, agree with you that the 4th-Ruoxi romance is quite Byronic and poetic in it's own quite way... a veritable Heathcliff and Catherine type of love!)

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    Senior Member xiaolong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by subdereality View Post
    Ooh! Good that there's finally a book discussion thread. I've only started reading, and I've managed to get up to chapter 9. So far, not much has happened yet, and I need to try to get into the novel.

    Speaking of which, I'm finding it hard to read it online. I'm trying to buy the book from Amazon.cn, but it's always out of stock. Where else do you guys buy Chinese novels from? (I'm in England.)
    You can by the book from YesAsia.com - but this is the Taiwanese version, i.e. it's using traditional Chinese characters.
    Here are the links:
    http://www.yesasia.com/global/startl...0-en/info.html
    http://www.yesasia.com/global/bu-bu-...0-en/info.html
    http://www.yesasia.com/global/bu-bu-...0-en/info.html

    I'm so obsessed by it, it's no joke.

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Hi Xiao long,

    With you- Bu bu fills my mind day and even at night!

    Back to the novel for me... I think I am one final all-nighter away from finishing.


    Hilariously I'm starting to become so absorbed in the story my mind strays on random tangents based on it!



    Tong Hua in her notes makes comparisons to characters in famous wuxia and period novels etc. and in the depth of my sleep-deprivation early this morning I found myself wondering how many millions of women this novel inspired to become like Daiyu, weeping all night over a single poem or a single scene? (Yours truly is the first to have to confess her guilt here!)


    BTW, for the not-mandarin-enableds here, I'm betting there will soon be attempts to translate this. It's too good not to have a fan project or commercial attempt- but I'd warn you some of it takes context.



    It's more fun if you know why a comparison to Wang XiFeng from Dream of Red Chamber is a half hilarious, half tragic and entirely admiration-worthy comparison for 8th's wife.

    Still seriously worth the read!

    Ohhh... Taiwanese version? I'm going to get myself a copy but I think I'll stick to a simplified Chinese version. I'm struggling enough just reading the jian ti version online- I think I might just give up if I have to try it over with fan ti!

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    Junior Member katxdbsk's Avatar
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    How did Ruoxi die in the end?
    Like: Yuan Hong, Chris Wu, Zhang Jie

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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xiaolong View Post
    I'm so obsessed by it, it's no joke.
    I'm glad I'm no the only one here or else I'd feel like I'm crazy!
    I think I've been possessed. XD

    Ever since I found out about the drama I've been on the baidu tieba whenever i can and thinking about the book all the time. I don't think I've ever been so obsessed by a drama or novel like this before.

    I think the books brings up so much wonderful discussion which is why it's so much fun even after reading the book.

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Quick responses!

    Ruoxi dies of ill health- from years of sleepless nights over the future, and also hard labor, washing clothes in the cold of winter or heat of summers outdoors. She dies in the arms of 14th- who together with 13th and 8th manage to force Emperor Yong Zhen (4th) from releasing her to go away as 14th's 'wife'.

    It is amazingly touching how 13th, who is loyal unto the death to 4th is willing to defy him to save Ruoxi by passing on a message to 14th in secret.

    And even 8th, whom Ruoxi let down in the past, who would never hurt Ruoxi by telling the truth behind his and Ruoxi's past to anyone ended up telling it to Yong Zhen so as to get Yong Zhen to give up on Ruoxi.

    14th has the ace card. An edict from the late Emperor Kangxi bestowing Ruoxi to 14th in marriage.

    Even Yong Zhen had to give some thought to that one.


    Xiao Long one quick response to your question from the main page-

    You have no idea how much I LOVE the romance between 4th and Ruoxi.

    It is the last part... when Ruoxi realizes that only in solitude, away from the madding crowds, away from the guilt and the politics could she love 4th entirely without doubt or hate or anything complicated.

    She lives her life remembering why she loves 4th body and soul.

    She drinks the tea he drinks, loves the colors he loves (I think it translates to "the turquoise after a drizzle") , likes the weather he likes, ponders every glance and word and gesture they've shared.

    It is the perfectly heart-breaking love.

    And it's amazing to learn that 4th pines for her too.... getting secret reports about her, standing in the rain in jealousy and loss.

    More later- but I wanted to analyze why 4th manages to capture Ruoxi's heart when 8th does not.... and how much of that is Ruoxi's own knowing that her romance with 8th will end in tragedy and her thinking romancing 4th will give her some measure of protection!

    Later ladies!

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    By the way, it is Ruoxi's death anniversary in a few days... well, by the Gregorian calendar, and probably she was using the Chinese calendar, but whatever!

    We should celebrate her 'life' at this site!

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Speaking of Healthcliff and Catherine Earnshaw- here's one of my favorite quotes from her about their relationship. It's interesting, it's not so much that they love each other, as that they are "one soul in two bodies"

    "I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation, if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning: my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it.—My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being. So don't talk of our separation again: it is impracticable"
    -Emily Bronte's Catherine Earnshaw

    I feel like there is some shadow of this in the novel at the end when Ruoxi does everything 4th does- she creates him again in herself.

    And it's most poignantly symbolized by her endless task of trying to write in calligraphy like 4th.

    They say calligraphy is some sort of expression of your person, and Ruoxi tries, in her own way, to express how much she doesn't simply love 4th, she _is_ 4th.

    Though I think Catherine takes it one step further. She doesn't consider marrying Linton a separation from Heathcliff, it's silly, why should marrying a person separate you from yourself? But the physical separation from Heathcliff she had considered impossible... until Heathcliff left. Then a part of her died.

    Towering romances all have something mad in them I suppose. Obsessive in a way, just like the endless malice that 4th uses to punish 8th and 9th for tormenting 13th and Ruoxi.

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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    More later- but I wanted to analyze why 4th manages to capture Ruoxi's heart when 8th does not.... and how much of that is Ruoxi's own knowing that her romance with 8th will end in tragedy and her thinking romancing 4th will give her some measure of protection!
    I agree that because Ruoxi knows 8th is destined to lose, this knowledge did have some affect towards her decisions to break it off with 8th. However, I think it wasn't a major part of why.

    Her being with 4th also started out with a selfish reason (as I touched upon in my first post here): that she wanted the biggest tree to rely on. Ultimately, 4th won her heart completely because he's complete honest with his relationship with Ruoxi. There was no deceit with his love. He did not use his love or hers for any other purposes and he never made empty promises/promises he could never give. Ruoxi never has to doubt his love for her because she knows it's real.

    I'll elaborate my thoughts on this a bit more, as I'm too tired today to write anything too lengthy. XD Perhaps I'll just respond to what you have to say on this topic yanfeng, as you said you will.

    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    They say calligraphy is some sort of expression of your person, and Ruoxi tries, in her own way, to express how much she doesn't simply love 4th, she _is_ 4th.
    I like this ideas of yours, that 4th and Ruoxi are "one"; how strong their love is that they become each other.
    Last edited by Plushie; 03-05-11 at 03:02 AM.

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    Senior Member Drgirleam's Avatar
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    Thanks Plushie and Yanfeng for your elaborate explanations on the book. It helps people like me who can't read chinese text too well, to better understand the book and plot.

    I have a question that I am hoping one of you could answer for me. When Ruoxi decides to marry 14th in name only. What is her relatinoship with 4th like at the time. Were they still very much in love and together? Or had they already drifted apart and lost their closeness? I think I read in the Bu Bu thread that her decision to do so deeply hurt 4th, but they had been @ differences with each other due to 4th's actions, and 8th revealing he and Ruoxi had a relationship.


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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drgirleam View Post
    Thanks Plushie and Yanfeng for your elaborate explanations on the book. It helps people like me who can't read chinese text too well, to better understand the book and plot.

    I have a question that I am hoping one of you could answer for me. When Ruoxi decides to marry 14th in name only. What is her relatinoship with 4th like at the time. Were they still very much in love and together? Or had they already drifted apart and lost their closeness? I think I read in the Bu Bu thread that her decision to do so deeply hurt 4th, but they had been @ differences with each other due to 4th's actions, and 8th revealing he and Ruoxi had a relationship.
    They were still very much in love until the end. It's just that there are too many things between them: the politics and especially the guilt on Ruoxi's part. How can she dare to be happy with 4th when she feels responsible for all the deaths and tragedy that happens to the others?

    As yanfeng mentions 5 posts above, her leaving the palace only created an opportunity for Ruoxi to unconditionally love 4th without any complications. She was free.

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Ok Plushie, here's the context of the debate and my own proposition!

    There is a lot of debate about why Ruoxi ultimately chooses 4th and not 8th who was her first love. In fact 4th hardly appears in the first third of the novel, and their romance isn’t even explicit until the last third. A lot of the first two thirds of the novel Ruoxi is enamoured of 8th, and there is debate about whether, although she chooses 4th, how she feels about 8th even when she dies.

    For example, the fact that she defies 4th to save 8th even after she is together with 4th (her passive protest of first kneeling, and when commanded not to, then standing by the Buddha all night), and when she dies, she nonetheless leaves instructions for 13th to offer poison to both 8th and 9th so they can escape 4th’s wrath the only way she knows how- by dying. It is a mercy and they both know it- and only Ruoxi can command it in a way that allows 13th to do so without 4th retaliating by punishing/killing their families. For 9th it was because of her ‘younger sister’ who gave her life to spy for 9th (and whom 4th brutally burns to death), but for 8th.... its debated!

    This has led many to ask
    1) Did Ruoxi give up her love for 8th and chose 4th because she knew he would win the throne and she needed (in Ruoxi's own words) "a strong branch to protect herself"?
    2) Did Ruoxi still habor feelings for 8th till the end? (i.e., Was 4th actually somewhat correct in his accusations at the end that Ruoxi's actions could be explained by her never having truly given up on 8th?)
    3) Did Ruoxi love 4th more than she loved 8th?

    Okay, let me lay out my feelings/opinion first and then justify them!

    My proposition: Ruoxi didn’t love 8th as much as she latter loved 4th. She gave up on 8th because she didn't want to face death, destruction and sharing him with his other wives, but if she had been as much in love with 8th as she was latter with 4th she would have gone with him come hell or high water. (E.g., 4th had other wives, but Ruoxi ended up accepting it... even if a little bitterly.)

    The irony is this- that Ruoxi ended up dying because of 4th even before 8th died (see below). In the end, she chose a path that led to death faster and was even separated from 4th to in the end, so not being able to be with the one she loved, over 8th... whom she rejected because, at least she told herself, she didn't want a "love with no future".

    (On why 4th played a big role in Ruoxi's death- Ruoxi rejected Kangxi's direct command for her to marry 14th over 4th and was subject to years of hard labor, which was what ultimately ruined her health, and she miscarried a child from 4th partly over political intrigue between 9th and 4th.)

    In any case, what Ruoxi told herself right about a third into the novel was that the prospect of sharing 8th with his many wives, including her own older sister whom she loved, and the idea of watching him die in inches after he loses the throne to 4th drove her to do one gamble. She offered herself to him on condition that he cease to pursue the throne- she figured that if he gave up, 4th would have no reason to pursue and punish him after he becomes emperor.

    She lost the gamble- 8th refused, and Ruoxi gave him up. She was heartbroken, but she did ‘harden’ her heart in that she refused to turn back even though 8th was quite crushed by this for awhile. (As an aside his actually infuriated 14th so much he several times violently argued with her over it... with some devastating consequences in terms of a false impression it gave 4th.)

    More later on justifying my p.o.v., but let the debate begin!

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    Senior Member Plushie's Avatar
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    ^^ I actually agree with you on this. I also feel that Ruoxi did love 8th but it was not as strong as she her love for 4th. Which is why I tend to say that Ruoxi/8th is more like a young impressionable girl's "first love", while Ruoxi/4th is like a woman's "true love". If that makes any sense at all. lol. At least for me, one's first love may not always be the the one that defines or completes you.

    My thoughts on the 3 points you brought up:

    1) Did Ruoxi give up her love for 8th and chose 4th because she knew he would win the throne and she needed (in Ruoxi's own words) "a strong branch to protect herself"?

    I do not think she gave up 8th purely because she knew he would lose. It may have some factor but I feel that it's a very small one (will elaborate later). I do however, agree that she chose 4th largely because she needed a strong branch to protect herself. Did she have feelings for 4th then? Probably, but it certainly wasn't very prominent or strong at the point. I feel she was more concern with herself when she put on that hairpin.

    2) Did Ruoxi still habor feelings for 8th till the end? (i.e., Was 4th actually somewhat correct in his accusations at the end that Ruoxi's actions could be explained by her never having truly given up on 8th?)

    Ruoxi definitely still had feeling for 8th at the end, but it was more of a family one rather than a romantic one. At that point, I think Ruoxi has her heart completely taken by 4th.

    3) Did Ruoxi love 4th more than she loved 8th?

    Yes! As much as Ruoxi says she's afraid of death when she broke it off with 8th, I really don't think she is truly afraid of it. If she was, she wouldn't have refused Kangxi in regards to the marriage with 14th. She knows defying Kangxi like that usually means death. She also would't have risked her life to do the horse race with Min Min. I feel her love for 8th just isn't as strong as she thought it was.

    So, Yanfeng, I agree with all the points you brought up but I'd like to input something I feel is one of the biggest reason why Ruoxi finally decides to leave 8th. That reason is she realizes that there's no way 8th would ever be able to protect her completely, or side with her if there was ever any problems with MingHui.

    To understand this, we have to understand something about the Manchurians. Unlike in Han Chinese culture, where a one's mother don't matter as much to one's staus, the Manchus practiced 子以母贵 and put emphasis on one's mother. They feel a man's mother has impact on one's status and prestige. This is the heart of 8th tragedy: his mother came from one of the lower classes in Manchurian society and therefore he was never particularly well liked by his father. As a result, 8th only has his wife's status to rely on and MingHui comes from a very prestigious family, the Guoluoluo family. (9th's mother was from the Guoluoluo family). For the benefit of his ambitions, and his status/image, 8th will side with Minghui.

    Ruoxi realizes this especially after her encounter with Minghui. She finds out that Minghui has been using her son to pick on Ruolan. When she talks to 8th about this, he only brushes it off as "Hongwang only goes sometimes, he's just a kid who all like being mischievous and naughty, even Ruolan doesn't mind" (弘旺是偶尔会去闹若兰,可若兰自个都笑说,小孩子本就爱玩闹,全不在意). It's obvious here that he knows about the situation, but doesn't do much about it.

    Ruoxi knows this and retorts that, "it's one thing to spoil your only child but it's another to turn a blind eye when someone else uses the child to bully another person" (弘旺是你唯一的孩子,你宠爱他是你的事情。可若有人借着孩子欺负人,你也视而不见,未免太过! ).

    I think the point is Ruoxi knows that if something similar happened to her in the future, 8th on situation like this, would side with Minghui and ask Ruoxi to make concessions. This is something Ruoxi cannot stand, even though Ruolan could.

    With 4th, the situation is different. 8th will side with Minghui because he depends on her family name, but 4th doesn't need his wives' prestige. Also, with 4th's personality, he would never allow his other wives to pick on Ruoxi or allow them to even interfere with his love life. He will protect things he loves with an iron fist. This is especially noticeable when 4th brutally executes a servant who was trying to spy for one of his wives. It is highly debatable if 8th would do the same in the same situation. And unlike the soft spoken, milder personality of 4th's main wife, Minghui definitely as a strong personality. She wold not be someone that will sit idly by. Therefore Ruoxi was scared. How can she be truely happy in a relationship when 8th can't even protect her?

    I still think the biggest reason why Ruoxi loves 4th more than 8th has to do with how much their honesty and genuineness towards her is. May elaborate on this later.
    Last edited by Plushie; 03-06-11 at 06:56 PM.

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    YesAsia is a good recommendation, however the prices are grossly inflated although they offer free shipping worldwide. I mean, USD15 per volume? It's about USD30 (roughly RMB200) for both volumes. *_*

    After asking around, some people recommended Dangdang.com (China-based website), and it's one of the few reputable websites that accept foreign credit cards and deliver worldwide albeit at a charge. The books are very cheap, only RMB26 (original price RMB38, 30% discount) for the entire set, and delivery charge is 50% of the book's original price. Still, at RMB45, it's WAY cheaper than getting it from YesAsia.

    The only caveat: the international delivery charges has to be a minimum of RMB50. Therefore, together with 《步步惊心》, I bought 《云中歌》as well. I would have bought 《风囚凤》and《绾青丝》, but they are sadly out of stock. Will be on lookout.

  18. #18
    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plushie View Post
    Therefore Ruoxi was scared. How can she be truely happy in a relationship when 8th can't even protect her?
    Hi Plushie, I agree with all your points, and actually think your initial reaction is correct. That Ruoxi is not as in love with 8th as she thinks!

    All the talk about wives is a bit of a red herring I think. As you pointed out she might have been executed for defying Kangxi's order... and her only reason she gave for that? "My heart refused and I couldn't do anything about it."

    As a matter of contrast:

    Ruoxi and 8th

    When Ruoxi turned down 8th after 8th had repeated promised to go to Kangxi after they get back from the Mongolian plains to ask for her hand, 8th was shocked and asked Ruoxi why.

    Ruoxi said she didn't want to 8th to die.

    8th said he doesn't believe Ruoxi is afraid of death, but Ruoxi told him that she was (it's a bit more complex than that, but Ruoxi ended up saying something about them not having a future.)

    8th then asked "And what would you do if I go to my father and ask for your hand and he bestowed you to me?"

    Ruoxi said "If it came down to it, you can't force me. No one can. I would beg and ask... and ultimately, there is always the option of death."

    And 8th was pale and quiet, but asked "If you dare to face death on your own so as not be forced to be with me, why can you not face death with me even if I were to lose the fight for the throne?"

    And that haunted Ruoxi.

    Ruoxi indeed asked herself, if she loved 8th so much why couldn't she put everything aside and just concentrate on standing by 8th for the decade or so that he had left before Yong Zhen ascended to the dragon throne. And I believe she didn't have an answer that she found satisfactory.

    Comparison between her reactions to 4th and 8th
    I think this comparison is telling.

    By the time Kangxi tried to bestow Ruoxi on 14th, she was so in love, she would risk dying to marry no one else.

    But when she turned down 8th, considerations like wives or the future still crowded her mind.... and I think the difference is that no matter what Ruoxi thought, her heart just wasn't into 8th enough.

    She could control what she did, and she pulled away from the prospect of a dim future with 8th.... while she couldn't help herself turning down Kangxi's offer for 14th... even if she died for it, she couldn't force herself to say the crucial "Yes, I am willing"

    I recall the scene vividly... when she tried to utter the words "I (she said "Your slave" since she was addressing the Emperor)... I... am... am ... " and she tried to force herself to say willing. She recognized that 14th was a good choice. Afterall, as General with massive support and having defended the Qing dynasty in battle after glorious battle, even Yong Zhen didn't really dare to do much to him. Yet she finally had to say "unwilling" and fell to her knees to beg for her life/pardon.

    So yes, Minghui being a lioness had something to do with it, and well Ruoxi knew the difference between herself and her sister, and Minghui and the other wives... but all that is secondary.

    It was the fact that she had left a little bit of her heart for herself loving 8th, that she couldn't let go of her thoughts of the future and the down side of prospects of life with 8th that made her answer him like she did.

    As an aside, I think 4th really understood that about Ruoxi and it drove him to further desperation to get the throne. Because he wanted to save both 13th and her from their respective life-destroying imprisonment. And the more glorious 14th because, the more successful at battle, devoted to the empire and the darling of the court, not to mention all the female hearts fluttering at 14th's bravery (it was hilarious hearing some of the washing girls glorifying 14th's every step and every story getting amplified and exaggerated!), the worse 4th felt. Afterall he knew why Ruoxi turned down 14th and suffered everyday, and I think it is that torment, along with the torment of 13th's equally big sacrifice out of love/loyalty to 4th that ultimate drove 4th to become the person he was.

    Ironic but it made sense to me.

    Overall
    I'm actually not saying Ruoxi's right or wrong overall, although a lot of people think her callous to treat 8th the way she did, or self-serving.

    I think it's rare to love someone so much you would die for them (in fact it's a little foolish even- if you died, what good could you do for them? What happiness could you bring to them or yourself?) So if anything, her attitude towards 8th- first trying to save him, and then cutting her losses and letting him go, seems more logical. To be brutally honest, as Yong Zhen's beloved consort, Ruoxi can actually do more for 8th than just dying with him as one of his wives when Yong Zhen won the throne.

    But I don't think that's what Ruoxi was thinking. Ruoxi is portrayed as instead falling entirely, hopelessly and illogically even in love with 4th in the novel so I accept it as part of who she is.



    Ps Thanks subdereality- I might go check out the alternative sites if only because I really want the simplified chinese version of the novel! Or perhaps I'll wait until I get back to Asia and see if its on sale at a bookstore I can get to in person.
    Last edited by yanfeng; 03-07-11 at 07:50 PM.

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    Senior Member xiaolong's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yanfeng View Post
    Ps Thanks subdereality- I might go check out the alternative sites if only because I really want the simplified chinese version of the novel! Or perhaps I'll wait until I get back to Asia and see if its on sale at a bookstore I can get to in person.
    Thanks subdereality for the recommendation on DangDang.com - great site! I don't buy books online as I prefer to go to the bookstores, have my tea, browse... It's easy for me to get these books as I live in HK and commute frequently to Taiwan. But I usually read in traditional Chinese, dun know why.

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    Senior Member yanfeng's Avatar
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    As an entirely separate thought- I thought that the scene when Ruoxi finally was forced to tell 4th why Kangxi was punishing her was a very moving one.

    She had told no one that the reason she was sentenced to indefinite hard labor was that she refused to marry 14th.

    Everyone assumed she had begged on 8th's behalf over his most recent fall from grace.

    And know that before that scene she and 4th had a pact.

    Between them, nothing but the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the brutal, honest truth.

    In that light, she had told 4th that she wanted to marry him (straight up!) because she thought that he could defend her and help her escape from the Forbidden city into a safe small courtyard where she could get away from the politics and strife.

    4th had earlier laughed and broken her unrealistic dream of serving Kangxi forever, or being retired as a maid to do what she wanted once dismissed from service. 4th pointed out that as 8th's sister-in-law, from a good Manchu family, and also with strong ties with Mongolia via Princess Min-min, Min-min's husband and Min-min's father, she was a valuable pawn.

    Sooner or later, some prince would convince Kangxi to bestow her as a gift. The best thing for her to do was to pick a prince she could stand, even if not love, and be assured of a comfortable future with and try to influence Kangxi's choice. He further told her to do it soon, because she didn't have all the time in the world.

    Ruoxi was crushed that her dreams were unrealistic and that she thought she was fighting so hard for her freedom, and yet still she wasn't free and would never be.

    4th didn't spare her. And so Ruoxi didn't spare 4th.

    She told 4th that she could lie and tell him that she fell in love with him because he saved her, or because he was heroic etc., but really she wants him to marry her because she thinks he's going to be a reliable tree for her. 4th laughed a little bitterly at her candor, but told her he wasn't willing to marry her... yet. (Funnily he waited for a while to say "yet" so that Ruoxi laughed a little bitterly that she had overestimated her own worth! )

    But yes, so it is that 4th was shocked that Ruoxi turned down 14th.

    This scene is worth translating here-
    他脸色骤暗,“皇阿玛想把你赐给十四弟?你为什么不愿意?”我微笑不语。他问:“你不是一直想着逃离紫禁城 吗?不是总想着找个小院子平平安安过日子吗?大 好的机会就在眼前,为什么不要!为什么偏要抗旨?十四弟相貌出众,文才武略在我们兄弟中也是拔尖的,现在最 得皇阿玛倚重,对你又极好,你忘了大雨中他为你 一跪就是一夜吗?你还有什么不满意的?”我道:“事情已经过去,再提又有什么意思?”
      他低头无语,半晌,忽地抬头看着我坚定地说:“若曦,你 必须告诉我原因。”我捂着心口,侧头笑道:“顺从了自己的心,它不愿意,我一点办法也没有。”他表情似喜似 悲,盯了我半晌后道:“造化弄人?我偏不信这个 邪!我不信我们无缘!就是老天不给,我也要从他手里夺来!”一面举手轻抚着我脸庞,一面一字一顿地道:“我 一定会救十三弟出来,也一定会娶你!”说完,一 甩袖转身大步而去。

    4th's face darkened "Father wanted to give you to 14th brother in marriage? Why weren't you willing?"

    I smiled wordlessly.

    He asked "Haven't you always wanted to escape the Forbidden city? Aren't you thinking about finding a small courtyard somewhere to peacefully live out the rest of your life? The opportunity was right there in front of you, why didn't you take it? Why defy an edict? 14th brother is handsome, his scholarly and martial achievements equally outstanding, and he's in Kangxi's favor right now. Plus he's been good to you- have you forgotten he knelt all night in the rain for you? How could you still refuse him?"

    I replied "It's over now. Why rehash the past?"

    He bowed his head silently for a moment and then suddenly looked up with force. "You must tell me why."

    I pointed to my heart and laughed "I gave way to my heart. It was unwilling and there was nothing i could do about it."

    Looks of joy and heartbreak passed over 4th's face and he was silent for a half moment.

    "I don't believe in fate, I defy fate. I will snatch from fate's hand."

    He stroked my face and said the next words, one forceful word at a time.

    "I will save 13th and I will marry you."

    And then he turned and was gone.

    ***

    It is the first time I think that 4th appreciates that Ruoxi loves him now, and it's more than a way out of the Forbidden city for her.

    And later, as 14th garnered more and more glory and honors, 4th only once asked Ruoxi if she regretted her choice. And she said no.

    Again it's all incredibly bare, specially given Ruoxi hardly ever got to see 4th- "barely once a year"- and yet their meetings were always short and filled with only the most mundane, the least dramatic slow conversation about their health or the seasons. Like all the other moving scenes in the novel, they're all very understated, and in fact this one I translated might be the most explicit 4th and Ruoxi ever get to expressing themselves.

    For readers of English fiction, this seems laughably mute, with hardly any drama. But I think the idea, for better or for worse, that the really important words don't need to be said is a very strong force yet in Chinese fiction. I think of it as a type of Chinese water painting- where clouds and water are often painted with no paint. So that a whole painting can be mostly blank spots with bits of mountains in-between to imply the massive monoliths but not explicitly portray them.

    So it is that the drama in all the scenes are sometimes around what doesn't happen and what isn't said.
    Last edited by yanfeng; 03-07-11 at 08:44 PM.

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