Eastern Sentiments

Eastern Sentiments

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by T'aejun Yi
     
 

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The Confucian gentleman scholars of the Choson dynasty (1392-1910) often published short anecdotes exemplifying their values and aesthetic concerns. In modern Seoul one scholar in particular would excel at adapting this style to a contemporary readership: Yi T'aejun.

Yi T'aejun was a prolific and influential writer of colonial Korea and an acknowledged master

Overview

The Confucian gentleman scholars of the Choson dynasty (1392-1910) often published short anecdotes exemplifying their values and aesthetic concerns. In modern Seoul one scholar in particular would excel at adapting this style to a contemporary readership: Yi T'aejun.

Yi T'aejun was a prolific and influential writer of colonial Korea and an acknowledged master of the short story and essay. He also wrote numerous novels and was an influential editor of cultural news. Born in northern Korea in 1904, Yi T'aejun settled in Seoul after a restless youth that included several years of study in Japan. In 1946, he moved to Soviet-occupied northern Korea, but by 1956, a purge of southern communists forced him into exile. His subsequent whereabouts cannot be confirmed, though rumors claim Yi returned to Pyongyang, only to be exiled once more. It is believed Yi T'aejun passed away between 1960 and 1980, but his works were not made available until 1988, when South Korean censorship laws concerning authors who had sided with the north were eased.

The essays in this collection reflect Yi's distinct voice and lyrical expression, revealing thoughts on a variety of subjects, from gardens to immigrant villages in Manchuria, from antiques to colonial assimilation, and from fishing to the recovery of Korea's past. Yi laments the passing of tradition with keen sensibility yet, at the same time, celebrates human perseverance in the face of loss and change. Most important, his essays recount the author's attempt to re-experience the past and keep it alive against absorption into the Japanese nation.

Janet Poole faithfully reproduces Yi's complex craft, retaining his idiosyncratic tone and narrative. A brilliant introduction to a remarkable prose stylist, Eastern Sentiments eloquently complicates the historical, political, and aesthetic concerns of Orientalism.

Editorial Reviews

The Journal of Asian Studies - Kelly Y. Jeong
Well worth a thorough read by those interested in colonial and modern Korean literature.The Journal of Asian Studies

Korean Studies Review - Samuel Perry
The field of Korean Studies is indebted to Janet Poole for setting a new standard of literary translation and analysis.Korean Studies Review

Asian Review of Books
Yi is an engaging writer, and he is fortunate to have found such an empathetic translator.

The Complete Review
an enjoyable, varied collection.

Korea Herald
An elegy for a literature that is disappearing.

The Journal of Asian Studies
Well worth a thorough read by those interested in colonial and modern Korean literature.

— Kelly Y. Jeong

Korean Studies Review
The field of Korean Studies is indebted to Janet Poole for setting a new standard of literary translation and analysis.

— Samuel Perry

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231149440
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
08/20/2009
Series:
Weatherhead Books on Asia Series
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Jin-kyung Lee
Eastern Sentiments, a collection of essays by Yi T'aejun, superbly rises to the challenge of translating into exquisite English the subtle and complex nuances of his language and the multilayered irony of his prose. Furthermore, Janet Poole's authoritative, critical introduction significantly contributes to the growing body of scholarship on the political and aesthetic value of Yi T'aejun's work.

JaHyun Kim Haboush
Yi T'aejun is one of the foremost modernist writers of colonial Korea. In elegant and readable prose, this translation captures his elegiac contemplation.

Meet the Author

Janet Poole teaches Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. She has translated the works of many writers from colonial Korea.

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