Cho Dong-il’s History of Korean literature

Cho Dong-il’s History of Korean LiteratureDr Cho Dong-il’s History of Korean literature, translated by Charles La Shure, published by Saffron Books, offers a comprehensive examination of the history of Korean literature, both written and oral, and inquires into its relationship with world literary history. He places Korean literature within its proper cultural, philosophical, and political contexts, tracing the threads that run through it from ancient times to the 20th century. You  may order this book here.

Cho Dong-il’s History of Korean literature traces the development of Korean literature from its beginnings in paleolithic times through the ancient and medieval eras, the important transition from medieval to modern Korea, and the Japanese colonial period, which ended in 1945.

A pre-eminent scholar of Korean literature, Cho Dong-il demonstrates how inextricably the threads of history, literature, and philosophy are interwoven, providing the necessary background to understand Korean literature as an unbroken tradition of thousands of years. His theories of literary branches and tendencies, as well as his unique understanding of the relationships between historical eras, provide a deeper and more flexible framework for interpreting Korean literature than traditional genre and periodization systems. Lastly, he goes beyond regional boundaries to examine the place Korean literature occupies in world literature.

This English translation of the six-volume original serves as a foundation for and stepping stone to further study of Korean literature.

About the Author
Professor Cho Dong-il has been has been teaching Korean literature for 45 years, primarily in Korea but also in France, Japan, and China. He has spoken to academic audiences in sixteen countries around the globe. His contributions to the fields of Korean literature and Korean Studies include over seventy books and over two hundred papers. Of his recent books, A Theory of Learning (2012), serves as an approachable introduction to and summary of his vast body of research, while Where Now for Literary History? (2015) offers his thoughts on the future of the discipline.

Dr Cho Dong-il is currently professor emeritus at Seoul National University and a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea.

About the Translator
Charles La Shure holds a doctorate in classical Korean literature with a specialization in oral literature from Seoul National University. In addition to his academic research, he works as a translator of academic and literary texts from Korean into English; recent previous translations include the novel Black Flower, by Kim Young-ha, and the novel Scenes from the Enlightenment, by Kim Namcheon. He is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Seoul National University.

Contents    6~9
Preface    11
Notes on conventions    13
A new understanding of literature    15~23
1.    The scope of literature    15
2.    Literary branches    17
3.    The division of historical periods    19

Part One | From primitive to early medieval literature    25~86
1.    Primitive literature    27
2.    Ancient literature    30
3.    The emergence and role of hanmun literature    33
4.    The new face of songs    40
5.    The world of hyangga    41
6.    Principle and expression in Buddhist literature    49
7.    Tales and drama    56
8.    The literature of Balhae    57
9.    Mature Silla hanmun literature    59
10.    The mythological expression of national foundation    64
11.    The tradition of hyangga    66
12.    The civil service examination system and hanmun literature    68
13.    The reestablishment of Buddhist literature    70
14.    Between tales and history    74
15.    The end of early Goryeo aristocratic literature    81

Part Two | Late medieval literature    87~183
1.    The Military Officers’ Uprising, the Mongol
Invasion, and Literature    89
2.    Controversy over the essence and function of literature    99
3.    New ground in Buddhist literature    108
4.    A new understanding of national history    111
5.    Folk song lyrics    120
6.    Tales, shaman songs, and drama    124
7.    The growth of gyeonggi-style songs, sijo, and gasa    125
8.    The direction and critical consciousness of literati literature    129
9.    The establishment of Joseon Dynasty hanmun literature    139
10.    Hangeul and narrative poems    145
11.    Early Joseon hangeul poetry    155
12.    Government official literature    164
13.    Independent literati literature    166
14.    Outsider literature    169
15.    The trials and transformations of Buddhist literature    174
16.    The advent of the novel    178

Part Three | The first stage of transitional literature    185~343
1.    Literature that dealt with national suffering    187
2.    The unrest and continuation of traditional literature    195
3.    The transformation to the era of novels    205
4.    A re-examination of the fundamental issues of literature    218
5.    The broadening authorship of literature    226
6.    The direction pioneered by the literature of the
Practical Learning School    236
7.    Folk songs, folk song poems, and akbu poems    254
8.    Changes in sijo and the emergence of verbose sijo    261
9.    The changing face of gasa    272
10.    Buddhist, Taoist, and Catholic literature    282
11.    From hanmun records to hangeul expressions    289
12.    Tales, yadam, and hanmun short stories    297
13.    The growth and transformation of the novel    311
14.    From narrative shaman songs to pansori-based novels    326
15.    The latent power and transformation of folk drama    335

Part Four | The second stage of transitional literature    345~550
1.    Popular religious movements and literature    347
2.    The vitality and tension of oral literature    360
3.    The continuation of and changes in old vernacular literature    374
4.    The task appointed to hanmun literature    393
5.    The literature of the righteous armies’ struggle    417
6.    The shift from the old to the new view of literature    436
7.    New aspects of vernacular poetry    454
8.    Prose for an awakening of the times    474
9.    The domain of novels and the position of new novels    489
10.    Folk drama, changgeuk, and new-style drama    501
11.    The insecure position of new-style poetry    518
12.    Novels by a wandering generation    532
13.    The formation of literature in exile    544

Part Five | Modern literature    551~829
1.    The direction and trials of modern literature    553
2.    The impact of Western literature    576
3.    The basic tasks of forming modern poetry    582
4.    The process of achieving the modern novel    591
5.    Wandering and seeking in the world of poetry    602
6.    The body of works and critical consciousness of novels    632
7.    The labour pains of modern drama    650
8.    The era of criticism and controversy    666
9.    The direction and fruits of the folk song poetry movement    688
10.    The development of the sijo revival movement    696
11.    Historical novels, rural novels, and popular novels    708
12.    The various philosophies of dramatic composition    739
13.    Poetry that sought an inner consciousness    757
14.    Novels of a dark era    778
15.    Poetry’s agonizing over how to deal with history    808

From Korean literary history to world literary history     832~838
Changes in oral narrative poetry     832
Literatures of the common written language
and national language     834
Characteristics of modern national literature     836
In closing     838

Early Medieval Era,  Second/Third century~1170    840~841
Early to Late Medieval Era, 1170-1592    842~843
Late Medieval Era, 1170-1592  to First Stage of
Transition from Medieval to Modern Era, 1592-1860     844-845
Modern Era, 1860-1945    846


Index of Authors    847
Index of Works    859
Hangeul Index    893
Index of Characters    907
Glossary & General Index    913

Acknowledgments 943

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