Fangirling Chinese Novels

Tangqi Gongzi on Shen An and Song Ning


The brilliant Tangqi Gongzi (and in case this is your first foray here, she’s the uber awesomesauce author of Hua Xu Yin) recently posted some messages on Weibo about HXY. Since everyone was (and is still) salivating over the Yuan Hong and Jiang Xin (who portray Shen An and Song Ning) stills have been released recently, I thought that you might be interested in what the author thinks of this pairing.

In case you do not know the story yet, you can read Mrs K’s synopsis at her Koala’s Playground.

Tangqi Gongzi:

“I see ten thousand people debate on whether Shen An loved Song Ning, and it seelike I have never given an explanation.Shen An loves the girl who rescued him, but I feel that it is more accurate to describe this type of “love” as feelings of responsibility. When Song Ning married him later, he developed feelings for her even though she never rescued him and this is the feelings of real love.

His feelings of responsibility made him hate himself as he felt that he has betrayed Liu Qi Qi. This is why he and Song Ning mutually torture each other. Shen An is not scum – just that he has misplaced his affections.

After Song Ning died and the Little Princess used her Huaxu Diao to show him the past. When Shen An said, “that can’t be true, I don’t believe it”, he wasn’t being heartless but that it is so painful that he cannot face the truth. Actually, deep down, he already has his doubts, but he ignored them because he is afraid that the truth is what he suspects. And so, when the truth is indeed what he suspected, although he says, “that can’t be true,” but actually deep down, he has already accepted that that is the truth. He loved her but he was also the one who ruined her, and that has become a tragedy that can never be salvaged.”

In case you haven’t noticed, Shen An and Song Ning are one of the most star-crossed lovers ever written in literature. They first met on the battlefield, each fighting for the opposing side. But that is also when she first fell in love with him. And when she heard that he might be dead, she rushed off to the battlefield to try to find him, to try to save him and if she can’t save him, at least to bury him properly. She saves him, and he falls in love with the girl who rescues him but mistook another woman for her when he wakes up. But when the war ended and she has the chance to marry him, she realised his mistake but could not do anything about it.

I never thought that Shen An didn’t love Song Ning. At the very least, I thought that he has some pretty strong feelings for her, be it love or hate. The shortcomings of the story being told from Song Ning’s point of view is that we get so little insight on Shen An’s struggles with his respective feelings for both women. It’s easy to hate Shen An, because from Song Ning’s perspective, her love has given her nothing but heartbreak and misery. But if seen from Shen An’s perspective, he is trying to be loyal to the woman he made a promised to, he woman who saved his life, and while you may disagree with him, you can’t hate a man who’s trying to do that.

I always thought that their relationship was characterized with too much pride. Some people have disagreed, and argued that Song Ning has given up her pride to stay with Shen An. I’m not sure about that – Song Ning says a lot of things to protect her pride, so that she doesn’t appear to be a weaker party, even though it does nothing for her relationship with Shen An. There is a scene where she gives a breastplate to him before he goes into battle and she explained why she did it: “If you died, I will have to take care of your entire family”. So that just contributes to the love hate relationship between them. Pride made it impossible for them to be the first to bend before the other, to show weakness.

I think when Shen An finally acknowledged the whole truth, he could not forgive himself. He probably tortured himself by replaying all of the times he hurt her and how his indifference and avoidance finally killed her. I don’t think anybody can live with that kind of pain and guilt.

When she heard that Shen An has died, Jun Fu remarked that “He would probably still be alive if Song Ning was still around” and that Song Ning would never have let him die. And Mo Yan replied that “He probably died because Song Ning is gone.”

Jiang Xin is my first choice to play Song Ning so I was ecstatically happy (she was originally rumored to play Jun Fu). I didn’t expect Yuan Hong to be Shen An, but I always loved him and I am excited that he gets to work with such an amazing actress. While I’m not sure how the drama’s going to play out (apparently, a lot of the elements of the storyline has been changed), I hope their story can get fleshed out. For example, I am not sure when or why Shen An falls in love with Song Ning, and I think that’s the greatest “hole” in the story.

And in order to reward you for reading my entire rant, here’s the bonus translation. His Derpiness weib-ed a response to Tangqi Gongzi’s posts and she wrote back!


Yuan Hong: Do you see, do you see do you see~ Your own mother [he is referring to Tangqi Gongzi here as the author] says that I’m not scum~ Not scum means not scum~ This releases me, this makes me understand, to let go of your love… (How do I continue this song now?)

Tangqi Gongzi: You didn’t want to love Song Ning, but you can love if you want to love. When you finally know the truth, the tears in your eyes fall in the end (Eh – this theme song isn’t too bad.)

Hahaha, apparently, they were actually punning this song (thanks Chenguang):

670925d2gw1e24uca99jpj (1)His Royal Derpiness: I did good, didn’t I?

12 thoughts on “Tangqi Gongzi on Shen An and Song Ning

  1. I kinda agree with every word you said on the SN/SA dynamics, but I’m firmly on the boat SN loves her too much and against all his morales and believes, everything else he prioritizes in life in place. Tang7 was being quite subtle with quite a lot of hinting between the lines I’ve missed in my first read and thought it was holes (the same one you opined), but it’s quite marvelously laid out in reread.

    • Ok. I’m going to go re read/listen now. 😀

    • I relistened to Song Ning ans Shen An’s story again. And obviously, I forgot what a blubbering mess it turns me into.

      Not many people like Song Ning’s story because everyone feels that their obstacles stemmed from a misunderstanding, which we assume could be overcome if they would only talked. But its amazing that it still evokes pretty strong reactions in me, even though this is the second time I’m relistening to it.

      I think I understand what you mean by the subtle hints of Shen An loving Song Ning. But my problem is that I don’t understand when, how or why Shen An fell in love with Song Ning. I’m a bit like Jun Fu that way – I need to know why (because frankly, I don’t think it was love at first sight).

      I would be a lot more invested (which would probably be a bad thing) if I actually understood Shen An better. We understand why Song Ning fell in love with Shen An, why Jun Fu cannot forget Mu Yan and Tangqi even explained why Mu Yan falls in love with Jun Fu. But I cannot rationalise how Shen An developed feelings for Song Ning.

      I can understand appreciate Shen An’s internal struggle for loving a woman who killed his unborn child, the woman who is the reason why he cannot marry LQQ, but this means very little to me when I can’t even grasp when he fell in love with her in the first place. They had very little opportunity to spend time together. The first time he showed any expressions that suggest anything remotely like romantic interest was when she brought the armor breastplate over – and that was the third time they met since their wedding.

      • I read the fanfic I linked Peanuts before I reread. Of course the fanfic magnifies and exaggerates but at least it’s still within the realm of canon (unlike haha Swordsman). It manages to fill every ‘hole’ and gaps in timeline if you will coz it’s focused on the pov of SA. My gripe with Tang7 is we (and JF) r not let into much insight of SA.

        • Swordsman lost the plot a long time ago, from the start when DFBB changed gender.

          Peanuts actually passed the link to me, but I couldn’t load. Besides, it looks like it is in chinese (since its on baidu) and well, my reading skills are not up to par yet.

          Still… it’s an awesome tragic love story… I hope the drama actually covers those holes. I’ll watch the Yuan Hong x Jiang Xin bits and the rest I’ll just blitz through. 😛

          It would be more awesome if they were cast to do the Shi San Yue story.

          • haha if it’s up to me, I can see Loverboy rocking ALL of the characters (I mean guys…but haha not saying he can’t be 13 Yue), but yeah YHxJX will be a much better combo for the 13 Yue story in particular esp when I’m not too terribly excited of the actors in place now and that story is my fav as in the narration in the whole bk

          • I think I appreciate the 13Yue story the most because from a writing perspective, it is just so neat and well written. It starts off with a cold opening (yes – I’m a BIG fan of investigative procedurals like NCIS, Bones, CSI NY, etc) where the wife/consort/queen of the current King buys a dream, in which she kills her husband. And we’re like, what? and she dies? What’s happening? That totally piqued my interest at least.

            Secondly, the characters in the story are genuinely likeable people (some may argue that Rong Xuan is not, but in his own flawed way, he does try to protect his own). Or at least, based on canon, we can understand them and empathize with their difficulties and choices. Might not agree with all of them, but at least it’s not difficult to rationalize why they decide to do what they did. Their characterization are nothing, if not consistent.

            Overall, 13Yue’s story is the most satisfying read of the four. Of course, my dream cast is YH x LSS x HG. 😀 Peanuts tells me that’s like a “duh” cast. But YH x JX x HG is good in my books too.

  2. Thanks for the additional insight into Shen An, courtesy of TQGZ, HuiEr! I haven’t read the whole story of Song Ning and Shen An, just Koala’s summary, and the last chapter, so my understanding of their story is incomplete.

    I did suspect that SA had some feelings for SN, before A Fu ever guilt-tripped him with SN’s whole backstory, based on how he reacted upon learning of her death. I did wonder where those feelings had come from; after all, based on what I had read, it seemed that SA and SN only ever had an antagonistic relationship, not to mention she was the cause of so many of his griefs – miscarriage of his first child, inability to marry his “savior” (LQQ), etc. As a result, I would’ve thought that upon learning of the death of SN, his first reaction should be relief, not denial (which I think is the first stage of grief?).

    Like you, I would also like to know how he came to fall in love with SN (assuming that he did). Maybe I’m overly rational, but in love stories, I always want to understand how the OTP came to fall in love with each other, even though I know that love is much more often than not highly irrational. Perhaps some subconscious/unconscious part of him recognized her as his actual savior? Perhaps he was also reluctantly drawn in by her personality – after all, based on what I have read, it seems like SN and SA have very similar personalities/backgrounds, both being highly able warriors and defenders of their respective countries. Perhaps SA was an unwilling admirer of those qualities in SN. But, this is all pure speculation, filling in the holes of TQGZ’s stories.

    I’m not sure that I completely buy that deep down, SA already suspected the truth. Then why never give SN a chance to explain? Unless he was more afraid that the truth wouldn’t actually be the truth that he suspected/wanted. Or that he had already made a promise to another woman, and even if that promise was based on false assumptions, it was still a promise nonetheless and he couldn’t/shouldn’t go back on his word. Again, pure speculation on my part.

    It could also be that after SN was shot down on her first attempt to explain the truth, she was henceforth too proud/stubborn to try again. (Repeat: I am basing this on an incomplete understanding of the story!) So, by the time SA might have been more amenable to hearing the truth from her own lips, SN was too far gone in her wounded pride to reveal it. After all, SN/SA’s story is told to us from SN’s perspective, and there’s likely to be some bias on her part, however neutrally she might try to tell it. Maybe she would think that she wasn’t acting overly proud, but a neutral third party might think otherwise. Who really knows (except TQGZ).

    • I know right. It’s like, you guys just need to talk! and listen! and you guys could have been happy! Argh… I think what gets to me about this story is that their misery is entirely of their own manufacture… whereas in Eastern Palace, its easier to accept because it was an inevitability.

      I just need to see when Shen An falls in love with her. It could be ANYTHING. Like him coming home unexpectedly to see her being filial to his parents in his stead (even though he treats her like crap – making jokes to amuse his mother at the dinner table, fighting a few bouts with his old father – that makes him appreciate her better qualities. Because I think his parents – especially his father – would like her despite her background and everything – she’s quite filial to her elders (having grown up in the battlefield with her brother) and she’ll likely fit in with a retired general who is like father figure.

      Song Ning is an interesting female character. I think out of the four (ie Jun Fu, Song Ning, 13 Yue and Jiu Jiu), 13 Yue’s story was the most beautiful to me, but Song Ning left a deeper impression as a character. When I briefly described the story to my friends, they went, “wow – she’s not your typical weepy female,” at the part where she made LQQ climb the mountain with her. She dares to love, dares to hate, dares to accept responsibility for her own actions.

      Actually, she was ready to accept it if Shen An did not reciprocate her feelings on his own accord, but what she could not accept was that she was cheated of her happiness by some sly and underhanded trick. If LQQ had competed with her fairly for Shen An’s love, Song Ning would have wished them every happiness and gracefully bow out when she lost.

      In its own way, their story was characterised by this circular karma-like pattern. He dies and is buried in the place where she saved him from. She caused LQQ’s miscarriage so LQQ’s daughter caused her son’s death.

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