Eastern Sentiments

Yi T'aejun. Translated by Janet Poole

Columbia University Press

Eastern Sentiments

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Pub Date: March 2013

ISBN: 9780231149457

208 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $30.00£25.00

Pub Date: August 2009

ISBN: 9780231149440

208 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£75.00

Pub Date: August 2009

ISBN: 9780231520539

208 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $29.99£25.00

Eastern Sentiments

Yi T'aejun. Translated by Janet Poole

Columbia University Press

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.

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

JaHyun Kim Haboush, Columbia University

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.

Jin-kyung Lee, University of California, San Diego

An elegy for a literature that is disappearing.

Korea Herald

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

Kelly Y. Jeong, The Journal of Asian Studies

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

Samuel Perry, Korean Studies Review

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

Asian Review of Books

an enjoyable, varied collection.

The Complete Review
Translator's Acknowledgments
Early Ripening
The Flowerbed
The Banana Plant
The Sea
The City Wall
Autumn Flowers
For Whom Do We Write?
The Critic
Eastern Sentiments
The Short Story and the Conte
Titles and Other Matters
Korea's Fiction
The Taste of Fiction
The Fiction Writer
Friendship Between Men and Women
This Thing Called the Popular
The Taste of The Tale of Ch'unhyang
Kisaeng and Poetry
Night Flight
Brush and Ink
One Part Words
Nature and Books
The Love of a Work
Other People's Writing
After Illness
The New Bride and an Ink Painting of Bamboo
Readers' Letters
The Year of the Ox
Plum Blossom
The Classics
A Poor Drinker
The Carpenters
Oriental Painting
Antiques and Daily Life
The Old Writings of Two Qing Poets
Diary from a Seaside Village (Sh?wa 11)
Record of a Journey to Manchuria
Web Features:
  • Listen to Janet Poole discussing the translation of Eastern Sentiments on WBUR's World of Ideas.

About 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.