The Poet Paperback – Jul 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
The first novel by leading South Korean writer Yi Mun-yol to be published in the West in English, this moving, luminous story is based on the life of Kim Pyong-yon (1807-1863), a bamboo-hatted vagabond poet. Though born to an upper-class Seoul family, Kim was forced to live as an outcast as punishment for a perceived transgression that acquired the weight of original sin. When he is four, his politically influential grandfather surrenders to a rebel peasant army only to be recaptured by government troops, branded a traitor and executed. Fearing a similar fate, Kim's parents go into hiding, and the boy spends the next four years on his own, wandering, until he is reunited with his family, now ostracized as the relatives of a traitor. Striving to regain lost status, Kim aspires to be a gentleman-scholar, becoming a popular entertainer amusing the gentry with his lyrics. Later, as a populist bard, he writes revolutionary songs and poems that celebrate his sexual trysts with low-class women and mock venal nobles, exploitive landlords and bogus scholars. Finally, as a Taoist poet at one with nature and gifted with supernatural powers, Kim rejects his own son's pleas to return to the wife he abandoned. First published in Korean in 1992, this novel, despite an occasionally stiff translation, succeeds brilliantly both as fictionalized biography and as an inspirational parable about the artist's struggle to survive.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
In his first English translation, leading South Korean writer Yi Mun-yol considers historic, 19th-century itinerant poet Kim Pyong-yon. After Kim's grandfather defects to rebels during the insurrection of 1811, his family to three generations is condemned. Kim's parents hide their sons, who with their mother survive but bear the label of traitor. As he matures, Kim discovers a skill for poetry and a spirit profoundly affected by familial disgrace. Moved by deeply influential but casually encountered people, Kim spends his early adulthood currying favor with the wealthy, then turns sharply toward solidarity with the poor and powerless as he rethinks his grandfather's actions. Eventually he falls in with brigands, re-encounters his greatest early influence, and is nearly brought home by his son. This probing, fictionalized biography reads more like nonfiction than fiction, with its straightforward, informative style and its historical tangents. This engrossing, unusual choice for literate Westerners is recommended for larger public libraries.?Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.