The theme of this morning’s #ReadingTheStone live chat began earlier, with Kate’s Twitter poll on where readers fell on The Baoyu-Daiyu-Baochai ship, and whether Daiyu’s quiet off-stage demise in the midst of a wedding was unbefitting the exit of a central character. Some other forked paths of conversation centered around Chapters 96-100 of Hongloumeng: Daiyu’s final utterance, the business of Baoyu’s lost jade, idealized polygamy, destroying traces of oneself as gesture of moral purity or willful self-destruction, bowderlizing sad endings to please one’s audience, and of course, muzak.

dani / dax: Her death coming shortly after BaoYu’s sister’s death, too seems to offer a death contrast: whose continued life has actual value to that family?
Stephanie Carta: The sense of the betrayal by the elder generation of both Daiyu and Baoyu is strong to me – like when Xifeng lies to him that he’s marrying Daiyu.
eileen chengyin chow: 余命10年
Kate Laird: The Jia family’s behavior to Daiyu (except Baoyu) makes me feel that they are getting exactly what they deserve with the decline of the family. And since this is all pre determined in the Land of Disillusionment it made me feel this is why the family is collapsing despite the practical, real world reasons for the decline.
Vivian SF: “宝玉, 你好…” Baoyu, you so …..
Vivian SF: BaoYu has always been the only soulmate for Daiyu, so his presumed betrayal hurts more than all others
Laurie: yes.
Elena @Downtownlou: Is part of Daiyu’s tragedy from the beginning though believing that Baoyu has more agency than he really does?
Kate Laird: To Ann’s earlier comment about Baoyu’s initial response to removing Baochai’s veil is how beautiful she is recalls a scene much earlier where he looks at her arm (I think) and is stunned how beautiful she is. (That felt like a betrayal too) … I can’t think of a time where he thinks about Daiyu in that way.
dani / dax: But BaoYu has been wowed by the beauty of other characters before, why do people feel it suddenly a betrayal for him to find BaoChai beautiful?
Stephanie Carta: The Garden in its heyday was a kind of free love environment in the first place, wasn’t it?
Elena @Downtownlou: Body substitution foreshadowing.
Laurie: Wasn’t Lady Xing depicted as a bit of a dupe for tolerating her husbands lovers.
Shelly Kraicer: Does the marriage deception/substitution trick have precedents in Chinese literature? or is this a “first”?
Shelly Kraicer: It has lots of imitators, for sure.
Mel: +1
Laurie: The maids are so horrified at the burning of the writing.
Kate Laird: Without context (literary or historical), it seemed like it was a an effort so that Baoyu won’t be able wallow in reading her poems (act of vengeance? Act of sympathy?)
Shelly Kraicer: Ellen Widmer lecture on HLM here
Mel: happy endings get more food

[Originally recorded on 2-11-2023]

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