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21 September 2003

Yi Sang: The Wings

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Korea Life Blog - Yi Sang: The Wings

If you would like to sample some well written Korean literature that's been translated into English, pick up a copy of this book. It features three short stories by Yi Sang, a posthumously famous author of short fiction and poetry. If you're in Korea you can find it at any of the larger books stores with an English section or you can order it off the net at Amazon.com. I've read it several times, each time stirred by the author's haunting portrayal of his mental state while suffering from turberculosis during the time of Japanese occupation. Read below for an account of the author and a short synopsis of the stories.

Yi Sang was trained as an architect during the period of Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula. He was a controversial poet in his own time, and continues provoke readers to this day. Incorporating a range of tone from the surreal to the hermetic, from the comic to the scientific, he is perhaps best known for his subversive blending of these sources with a more native Korean idiom. He was the author of numerous short stories and poems collected in various posthumous volumes. Arrested in Tokyo for "thought crimes" in 1936, he died in Japan of tuberculosis shortly after his release.

Book Description
The three stories gathered in this volume display Yi, Sang's inventive manipulation of autobiographical elements, a method which expands his intensely private narratives into broader meditations on love, life, and death. "The Wings," a dark allegory of infidelity and self-deception, probes the ambiguities of perception and language through an unreliable narrator who bears an uncanny resemblance to the author himself. "Encounters and Departures," a tale of ill-fated love revolving around erotic passion and physical illness as metaphors presents a female protagonist modeled on the woman who was, in real life, the author's muse and femme fatal. Similarly, in "Deathly Child," Yi, Sang offers a witty, incisive examination of sexual mores through a fictional reenactment of his ambivalent feelings toward the woman he married toward the end of his life.

The Wings


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