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message 1: by John (new)

John Seymour 2. How did you experience the book? Were you engaged immediately, or did it take you a while to "get into it"? How did you feel reading it—amused, sad, disturbed, confused, bored...?

message 2: by John (new)

John Seymour Not bored, exactly, but wondering when stuff is really going to happen. I guess the marriage counts as "stuff," but very strange.

I am wondering how on earth this could be the most famous novel in China - I don't get it. Of course, I couldn't finish Proust either.

message 3: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Robitaille | 976 comments I am still quite engaged in this story, but I guess having been exposed a fair bit to Chinese culture before, it actually helps me to appreciate the story a bit more.

Things are starting to unravel in this book, with major developments towards the end with Bao-yu's "arranged" marriage with Bao-chai and the death of Dai-yu. One thing I have noticed though is the shift of pace in the story and this probably has to do with the fact that Gao E now takes over the writing from Cao Xueqin. (remember, this novel was unfinished by Cao Xueqin; Gao E completed the writing using Cao's plans and unfinished fragments). While in the first three books, the action is very slow and sub-plots are numerous, taking some time to unravel, events in this fourth seem to happen at lightning speed, with very little preparation and in quick succession. I also noticed how frequently the author(s) concludes by saying "of these events, our narrative will end here".

message 4: by John (new)

John Seymour Patrick wrote: "I also noticed how frequently the author(s) concludes by saying "of these events, our narrative will end here". "

Yes, that was used earlier, but not as frequently as in the 4th volume.

message 5: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2065 comments Mod
I actually found this volume more engaging than the previous one.

I enjoyed the spiritual suggestions about the connection between Bao-Yu and Dai-Yu the shared illness, the shared dream and when Bao-Yu goes to the realm between worlds to find her only to be told that he never will that way and will have to live on.

message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments I also found this book more engaging than the past two, either because of the change in authorship, translator, the fact that big things were starting to happen more frequently, or a combination of those factors.

I think Gao E had a greater sense of urgency in finishing the book than Xuequin. Events tended to unfold more slowly in the previous books than in this one. This book was also significantly shorter than the first three.

message 7: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1451 comments Because I am racing to try to finish the whole series before the end of the year tomorrow, I have raced through this volume and am relieved to find that others have found the pace quicken, too, it was not just the circumstances under which I am reading it.

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