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AN IDIOT’S GUIDE TO A HAPPY MARRIAGE

15K | CH 5/8 | RATED E

He pushes his chair back, heaving a deep sigh.

This has gotten a little messy, hasn’t it? All because Shang Qinghua let his emotions loose and let his feelings develop for a man. Just because the man was occasionally and surprisingly nice and touched him in a way that made him feel wanted, regardless of whether he actually was. His phone alarm beeps, indicating the end of his lunch hour, and Shang Qinghua lets out a weary sigh.

He looks down both sides of the hallway before stepping out of the breakroom. Mobei Jun would not be roaming around on this floor but there’s a good chance Zhuzhi Lang would have been able to track him down. And Shang Qinghua really doesn’t want to get an update on Mobei Jun’s schedule or give him a chance to beckon Shang Qinghua to his office.

The coast is clear. Shang Qinghua idly wanders to the elevators, and sees the doors closing.

“Hey,” he calls out. “Hey, can you hold it!”

A hand sticks out, stopping the elevator doors from closing. Shang Qinghua calls out “Thanks!”  as he approaches. He slides into the elevator with a huff and hits the button for his floor, not quite registering who he’s sharing the space with for a moment.

“Shang Qinghua?”

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sarah-yyyAnswer

6(i) you’ve got a date tonight and you asked for advice on what to wear but I’m so in love with you and damn you look good in the outfit I picked out for you

Shang Qinghua appears to be putting a lot of thought into picking his outfit when Mobei Jun materialises into his room. He’s comparing between two outer robes, a soft teal coloured one that Mobei Jun recognises as one of Shang Qinghua’s personal favourites, and a dark blue robe that is, for obvious reasons, Mobei Jun’s favourite.

“The blue one,” Mobei Jun says, and suppresses his smile when Shang Qinghua jumps in surprise. 

“My king! You gave me a fright!” He sets the teal robe back on his bed, and quickly shrugs on the blue one. 

It’s a good colour on him. Mobei Jun likes it when Shang Qinghua dresses in his colours. He makes a rumbling noise of approval, and is rewarded when Shang Qinghua flashes a small smile back at him. 

“And my hair, my king?” Shang Qinghua asks tentatively. “Would you have any suggestions?” 

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merelhynAnswer

I got your ask a while ago and didn’t feel it really needed an answer, and then got a little drowned in my danmei/xianxia feels and my reactions to the English-speaking fandom, and this coagulated into something that I actually think your ask is a good starting point for. So you get an answer!

For reference, nonny is speaking about this discussion, where @baoshan-sanren and I make fun of 2HA/SVSSS many similarities. Warning: this discussion is really spoilery for both novels, so you may not want to read it, and anyway it’s not necessary to understand this post. The joke there was that usually someone write a serious book first and then come the satire, but SVSSS was published before 2HA!

So the thing is, this was a joke. I don’t actually think Meatbun wrote 2HA in reaction to SVSSS. I wouldn’t bet that Meatbun actually read SVSSS at all. SVSSS is a satire on common tropes. That means for it to work that they are common tropes. SVSSS makes fun of tropes that don’t appear in 2HA and 2HA contains tropes that don’t appear in SVSSS, etc.

I think this is more of the “lacking context” thing that had me worked up these last few days, because I’ve read the angsty chapters of SVSSS as MXTX cheekily telling me “isn’t this the kind of angst we like?” and yes, guilty as charged, bring the angst, and these generally made me laugh. And other people read the same scenes very seriously and got all ‘SVSSS broke my heart!’ and, wow, do we have very different reading experiences.

I don’t think one experience is inherently better than the other, or that SVSSS can’t be read as a serious novel if you want, because it does seem like a number of people read it very seriously and enjoyed it that way. I think reading 2HA while knowing nothing of the tropes and being blindsided by some plot-twists is a very different experience than reading 2HA while knowing the tropes, seeing the set-ups and being like “will you/won’t you use this?”. I think 2HA can work with both audiences because it’s well-plotted. Does it really matter if an unexpected readership is misunderstanding something?

And this lead me to think about Tolkien, and his influence on Western fantasy, and how in my opinion his strongest literary heritage was at the heart of it a fundamental misreading of his texts. I do think that “fantasy” coalesced as a genre around Tolkien, even if novels we would consider fantasy existed way before him and he was not alone publishing “this kind of stories”.

The Lord of the Rings contains a very high number of references to events/characters/locations which are not directly relevant to the story. Bilbo sings about Eärendil in Rivendel, Túrin is mentioned in the fight against Shelob, there are sentences in Sindarin, etc. etc. The misunderstanding is this: Tolkien actually already wrote thousands of pages at that point about Eärendil, Túrin, and others. He had written Sindarin grammar and dictionaries. He very much wanted to publish the Silmarillion along with LotR, it just didn’t happen. These were supposed to be references his readers would get.

The readers didn’t get them. What they got instead was a ‘cheap way’ to create a mythopoeia, or the illusion of one. That you can reference mythical heroes without having to actually write plainly the myths, just having mythical heroes is making your fictional world seem deeper. You can invent only one sentence in a fictional language to bring across the idea that your world has different languages. And then you get all the later fantasy genre using these literary devices as a way to sustain their subcreation.

(the ‘funny’ thing about this is that Tolkien very much wanted his concept of subcreation to get traction and have an impact, it’s just that the way to go for it for later authors was practically the reverse of what Tolkien himself had done)

 This is very much something that didn’t happen in wuxia/xianxia, which are genres who references real-world practices and myths. But then, coming back to the question: does it really matter if the readers are misunderstanding?

I think sometimes it does, when this misunderstanding is based on racist assumptions (that the English-writing way is inherently better than other forms of literature and what makes a ‘good novel’, or by denying the writers their agency, or, or, or (too many examples to list)), or on other oppressive assumptions (about queerness in China, etc.).

But respectful misunderstandings? You know what? I’m actually totally fine with them. They are kind of inevitable when reading in translation something outside of our culture. They happen even when we are reading in our language texts steeped in our own culture after all. And maybe we will create a new genre out of the English reception of these Chinese novels and just become in general more accustomed to read outside of our cultural norms and hopefully more attuned to other cultures as a result.

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⑦ ᵈᵃʸˢ of 𝖍𝖆𝖑𝖑𝖔𝖜𝖊𝖊𝖓 🎃☠️
werewolf (pup) x classic witch bingqiu~
part of a 7 day event on my twitter :) 
7 days of my favorite danmei couples~ 
don’t repost anywhere thanks

hanayoritae
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hisohisoAnswer

who is even talking about being a teacher?? but also still no lmao considering he isnt even a cultivator hes basically playing a video game hes familiar with in first person

like its weird even to compare the two

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hisohisoAnswer

LMAO GIRL WHO EVEN TOLD YOU THAT … NO… Shen Qingqiu is literally Shen Jiu’s courtesy name, they get those after they reach a certain age 😩

the book is.. literally about Shen Yuan transmigrating to SQQ’s body and assuming his identity what are you talking about “did not steal his name” im 😭😭😭😭 he literally is IN his body its not just the name he “stole” 😭😭😭😭😭😭

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stebeeeAnswer

Featuring karaoke-loving Shang Qinghua who gets a bit too drunk at a Cang Qiong mountain gathering, and he goes all out. 

Or when Mobei Jun wonders why Shang Qinghua is singing about another man called Liang Shan Bo.

Sometimes, he thinks about his old life before he ever had the misfortune of landing in a world of his own creation, with an annoying gaming AI system of sorts hounding his every move (in the beginning) or turning up at the most inopportune times just when he thinks it’s finally gone and left him alone (more recently). 

Shang Qinghua remembers not having many friends when he was still Shang Qinghua, when ‘向天打飞机 Airplane Shooting Towards the Sky’ was still merely his writing Weibo account moniker and when he had millions of people looking up to him for his crucial contributions in writing this amazing story about his son Luo Binghe and the way he overcame all odds to become a success with a harem of gorgeous women at his feet (damn you, Peerless Cucumber bro!).

Back in those days, he lived off cup noodles and instant coffee. If he didn’t have to leave the house, Shang Qinghua would simply curl up in front of his laptop, either writing for his novel or watching shows (clears his throat) - actual shows! Chinese period dramas were his favourite, where a skilled and intelligent consort in the harem would outwit all the other women to be with her one true love, the Emperor, who falls irrevocably in love with her.

And when he got bored, he switched from the laptop to his television to engage in his second most favourite hobby - Chinese karaoke. Going out to a karaoke bar would require some level of socializing, and also a few friends so he gets more bang out of his buck from what he pays for the room, but at home? 

With advanced technology and a tiny ass microphone in either shining gold or silver, Shang Qinghua’s home entertainment system was his very own personal karaoke room, His tiny mic even had that echo-y effect on.

Shang Qinghua has a thing for classic Chinese songs - ‘The New Butterfly Dream’, ‘Liang Shan Bo and Juliet’, The Moon Represents My Heart‘ - and contemporary karaoke must-haves, like Wang Fei. For an embarrassing few days, the Chinese version of Baby Shark was a veritable earworm as well.

After transmigrating into his own story set in ancient times, where he lives without technology, Shang Qinghua would be lying if he said he didn’t miss the Internet. Laptops would be incredibly handy, and so would switches for lights, definitely indoor plumbing for toilets, and induction stoves. Phones too, that would be nice, rather than having to ‘send word’ with letters. 

Of course, there is no karaoke bar or machine for him.

Not all is bad though. At least he transmigrated to Shang Qinghua in this world as a baby, so it’s not as if he was surviving on Internet and technology one day and left to do everything manually the next day since someone was always taking care of him. Peerless Cucumber bro, of course, wasn’t as lucky, but the man has definitely taken to this world (and his son!!) like a fish to water.

And as for himself, Shang Qinghua does not need to envy Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe either, because somehow, he has gotten the man of his dreams too, even if said man was a little cruel and rude to him in the beginning.

He has the love of his life (coughs coughs) and they’re stuck in this world for the rest of his life. What more is there to want? Not to mention how his cup of instant noodles betrayed him at the last moment, resulting in his death! It is slightly safer, ironically, to be in this world instead.

All is good except… well…

===

Shen Qingqiu marvels at the sight before him, torn between wanting to step in to stop Shang Qinghua, or watch this farce unfold. 

He sometimes forgets where he, or where Shang Qinghua, who has been in this world longer than he, came from. They don’t always talk about the past when they meet, and aside from the occasional meetups, Shen Yuan is a part of him that doesn’t surface, not when he is with Luo Binghe. 

Shang Qinghua, on the other hand, grew up here, and aside from referring to Shen Qingqiu by his Weibo account name, he seems otherwise well-adjusted, no hint of modern online writer Shang Qinghua in sight. It doesn’t feel as if he misses their original world either.

This evening, however, memories of modern times slap him in the face, quite literally.

“Shizun!” Luo Binghe calls, frantic, tugging him back into his embrace out of Shang Qinghua’s way. Once Shen Qingqiu is safe in his arms, his eyes narrow at the bumbling, drunk idiot causing a scene in the dinner hall, “Shang Qinghua…”

Shang Qinghua stops where he is, and then before any one can stop him, he picks up a pair of chopsticks, brings it to his mouth, and begins bellowing his way through-

-Jay Chou’s Hair Like Snow.

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