On story and related literature

"...the emperor neglected the world from that moment..." (Bai Juyi)

The major pieces of literature referenced in this visual novel are Bai Juyi's poetry and the philosophical text Zhuangzi (also known as Chuang Tzu or Zhuang Zhou). If you've taken a look into the glossary of the game, you'll see some explanation of the works themselves, but I'd like to talk about the framing of the story around Bai Juyi's "Song of Everlasting Sorrow."

Be aware: there will be minor spoilers here!

Song of Everlasting Sorrow

This is one of Bai Juyi's most famous poems, a long poem about the tragic love of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei. This is also the most important piece of literature when it comes to from that moment she neglected the world.

You may have noticed that the title "from that moment she neglected the world" is a play on the line "the emperor neglected the world from that moment" in the poem. To be more specific, the title is a play on A.S. Kline's translation of that line.

I would consider Kline's translation to be more of a localization than a translation as he discards some of the literal meanings to a mild detriment to a reader's understanding. Some of the poem's meaning, at least an event or cultural level, has been lost in Kline's localization, but I would still consider it a worthwhile read. And certainly, his choice of words fits what goes on in this visual novel quite well.

"from that moment she neglected the world"

Deliberately leaving out a comma, I want you to interpret the connection of the story title any way you'd like. It can be applied for Bai Fangfei, for Lixue, for Sister Muqing, and for our mysterious Miss Xuan. Each woman in the story has "neglected" the world in a certain way, perhaps in an obsessive, tragic, or romantic way.

However, "neglect" may not be the complete word if we're solely looking at the original poem.

The line itself actually refers to Emperor Xuanzong no longer going to morning court due to his deep infatuations with his consort. The "world" that Kline's localization mentions is actually Xuanzong's role in the government in the poem, which does not refer to world or neglect specifically. The emperor neglected the world can be read as that the emperor put his heart over his duty.

The line even has a bit of a sexual implication.

Sharing the night with a beloved and deciding to sleep in with her, what do you think happened?

Incidentally, Muqing's name originates from another line in this poem. Many of the character names in the story come from poetry or literature. If you look through the glossary, you might find out who and which pieces.

Other Notes

Given that the story is written in English, some of the specifics for names are lost, so I'll list them out here:

  • 白芳菲 (Bai Fangfei)
  • 丽雪 (Lixue)
  • 白暮情 (Bai Muqing)
  • 玄梦蝶 (Xuan Mengdie)

While most of the characters have names originating from literature, Lixue's name is just Lixue's name, a name given to her by her dearest Bai Fangfei.

As a fun fact, the Xuan used also has the meaning of black whereas Bai refers to the color white. This was actually more of a coincidence than a deliberate choice when it came to naming the characters, but it fits quite well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this explanation! And I hope it made you interested in Chinese history and literature. Perhaps, I was able to give you another perspective to the story of from that moment she neglected the world.

Get from that moment she neglected the world

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