A History of Korean Literature

A History of Korean Literature

A History of Korean Literature

A History of Korean Literature

Synopsis

This comprehensive narrative history of Korean literature provides essential information for scholars and students as well as others. Combining history and criticism, the study reflects the latest scholarship and includes an account of the development of all genres. In 25 chapters, it covers twentieth-century poetry, fiction by women, and the literature of North Korea. It will be a major contribution to the field and a study that will remain for many years the primary resource for studying Korean literature.

Excerpt

A History of Korean Literature has been written to meet the needs of students and general readers who wish to know the main outline of Korean literature. It reflects the latest scholarship on all genres and periods and traces the development of Korean literature – encompassing literary works written in the hyangch'al system, literary Chinese, and the vernacular after the invention of the Korean alphabet in the mid fifteenth century. Unlike Chinese and Japanese literature, however, a large number of Korean classical works are not yet available in translation. Thus, translations presented here are mostly my own. Unlike other literary histories, we have avoided current jargon or theory because we want this history to be useful for more than a decade. When contemporary theory and criticism are useful in reading a text, however, we have employed it. Throughout, we are mindful that this is a narrative history of Korean literature, combining both history and criticism, addressed to the English-speaking reader. Topics in the general introduction include canon and ideology, traditional generic hierarchy, and other critical issues central to an understanding of Korean literary history. We have allotted more space to twentieth-century literature, but here the names swarm and the treatment is inevitably cursory. Minor figures are omitted so that attention may be focused on major writers and their representative works, the ones most likely to be read. Although there is no such thing as an innocent eye, we have tried to steer clear of ideological readings – nationalist, populist, or leftist.

Generally, chapters on traditional literary genres tend to be shorter than those on twentieth-century literature, because they aim simply to provide basic information on the main authors, works, schools, and movements of the period, genre, or form. What the student and the general reader need is accurate data – not always provided by books in Korean published in Korea and books in English published in the English-speaking countries. Proportionally, treatments of twentieth-century literature tend to be long for at least two reasons. The Korean literature written in the . . .

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